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fanuzzir
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"The End of Something"

Please enjoy ELee's comments as a starting point for discussing a wonderful story.



As has been noted elsewhere, Hemingway’s writing is like an iceberg. Here’s my take on the 80% of The End of Something that is submerged…

Hemingway opens this story with a description of the now defunct mill and town which mirrors a similar decline in the relationship between Nick and Marjorie. From the observations that the mill’s dismantling took place ten years prior and Nick “can just remember” it, we might surmise he is in his late teens and this possibly is his first romance. This story is about the inevitability of change, especially apparent during those years when people transition from children to adults: when anything can change at light speed due to the vacillation inherent to youth. The potential for change is first suggested when Nick and Marjorie troll for trout along the bank “where the bottom dropped off suddenly from sandy shallows to twelve feet of water”. Marjorie, however, is trolling for more than trout. She baits her hook with a reference to “our old ruin” (that she romantically sees “more like a castle”) and casts at Nick. But he, like the trout, does not strike and shows further lack of interest by his comment “They aren’t striking”. Marjorie loves to “fish with Nick” (have a romantic relationship) and not realizing the direction he is headed in, she is intent on her rod and does not “reel in” until the boat touches shore, indicating that she is entirely focused on their relationship and does not want to end it.

When they set the night lines, Hemingway creates a rather bizarre image reflecting Nick’s intention to end the attachment and “release” Marjorie. As she rows out looking back at Nick with the line in her teeth, and he pays out the line from shore, a strange image of fishing-in-reverse is created. She drops the line in when he says to let it go and watches the bait sink. Though Nick seems to be in control when it comes to fishing (and the relationship), and Marjorie’s attitude appears subservient, it is evident that she is the one doing all the work. It is Marjorie who twice rows the boat out to set the lines while Nick remains on shore holding the pole. Nick, lacking the resolve and courage to face Marjorie and end the relationship, becomes irritated and disagreeable and picks a fight. Because she turns away from him and does not confront him, he is able to tell her “back” that “it isn’t fun anymore” and its “as though everything was gone to hell” inside of him. Marjorie is the one strong enough to make a decisive move as she separates herself from him and rows across the water. Just as he was unable to face Marjorie, Nick is now incapable of facing what has just occurred, how he feels about it and what to do next, so he remains in place with his face in the blanket. With Marjorie and their relationship already in the past, and the appearance of Bill suggesting a previous relationship that will take its place in the near future, Nick is isolated in the present moment as he remains untouched by Marjorie or Bill.

The moon, which has connotations regarding women (gender/menses) and water (tides) and is mentioned several times in the story, represents Marjorie’s maturity into womanhood. Nick is the first to observe that there is “going to be a moon tonight” (movement toward maturity) and Marjorie responds happily “I know it”. This is the very core of Nick’s reason for separating from Marjorie, though he does not consciously realize it, and speaks to the disparity that Hemingway felt existed psychologically and emotionally between men and women. Nick’s bickering with Marjorie that she “knows everything” and that he “doesn’t know” acknowledges that he senses she is growing beyond his comprehension and capabilities in her expectations of the relationship's outcome. They do not touch (connect) as they watch the moon rise. Nick continues to watch the moon’s ascent as he finally says “It isn’t fun anymore” and severs the tie between the fun-loving boy and the love-seeking woman.

The physical pathways of the story’s characters also illustrate the changes that bring about “The End of Something”. Marjorie will find her way by water; Nick’s path will continue on the land. At the beginning of the story, they are passing over the line that divides their worlds as they row over the edge of the bank that drops from land and the shallows to deep water. After the separation is complete, Marjorie chooses the [deep] water and rows away in the moonlight to continue growing toward maturity. Not yet ready for a similar pursuit, Nick remains on [shallow] land with his old buddy Bill. Just as the schooner sailed away with everything removable when the Horton's Bay mill closed down, so too Marjorie’s departure in a boat seems to signify that she takes away with her everything that was of value in this relationship.
Message Edited by ELee on 02-18-200706:08 PM
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zman
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Re: "The End of Something"

A most excellent and thorough analysis. You've certainly left me with nothing to add. You should be a professor or something. :smileyhappy:
_______________________________________________

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chadadanielleKR
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Re: "The End of Something"



zman wrote:
A most excellent and thorough analysis. You've certainly left me with nothing to add. You should be a professor or something. :smileyhappy:



I agree 100%!
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Choisya
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Re: "The End of Something"

E Lee's posts are always an absolute joy. Ten stars out of five ELee:smileyvery-happy:



chadadanielleKR wrote:


zman wrote:
A most excellent and thorough analysis. You've certainly left me with nothing to add. You should be a professor or something. :smileyhappy:



I agree 100%!


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fanuzzir
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Re: "The End of Something"



fanuzzir wrote:
Please enjoy ELee's comments as a starting point for discussing a wonderful story.



The potential for change is first suggested when Nick and Marjorie troll for trout along the bank “where the bottom dropped off suddenly from sandy shallows to twelve feet of water”. Marjorie, however, is trolling for more than trout. She baits her hook with a reference to “our old ruin” (that she romantically sees “more like a castle”) and casts at Nick. But he, like the trout, does not strike and shows further lack of interest by his comment “They aren’t striking”.

Nick continues to watch the moon’s ascent as he finally says “It isn’t fun anymore” and severs the tie between the fun-loving boy and the love-seeking woman.


Message Edited by ELee on 02-18-200706:08 PM




Two observations to add to these comments: that Marjorie's romanticism of a castle that is really an old broken down mill speaks for itself, and also to Hemingway's critique of romanticism. You might call these vignettes romances for a de-romanticized age. (When he said "They aren't striking" I thought he meant the workers who were laid off from the mill. Choisya?) At the same time, they create a new language of lovers that is all the more effective for being terse, modernist, and alienated.

I don't see much fun in Nick. He's morose and determined. To do what? He's in love with misery and shortcomings, like bad fishing. It seems to make him more manly. There's that Hemingway paradox again.
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bentley
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Re: "The End of Something"


Choisya wrote:
E Lee's posts are always an absolute joy. Ten stars out of five ELee:smileyvery-happy:



chadadanielleKR wrote:


zman wrote:
A most excellent and thorough analysis. You've certainly left me with nothing to add. You should be a professor or something. :smileyhappy:



I agree 100%!







I really like ELees way with words and analytical skills as well. Maybe there should be a special category for "extraordinary". Her post should have received it.

Thanks ELee
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ELee
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Re: "The End of Something"

Thank you zman, chadadanielle and Choisya for your kind words. For some reason, this story resonated deeply with me. I could not make it go away - it kept popping back into my head, so I just ruminated until I finally digested it. I think Hemingway would have liked that.
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ELee
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Re: "The End of Something"

fanuzzir wrote:
"I don't see much fun in Nick. He's morose and determined. To do what? He's in love with misery and shortcomings, like bad fishing. It seems to make him more manly. There's that Hemingway paradox again."

I agree. In reading his stories, I often get the feeling that by having his male characters oppose or conflict with what is perceived as "feminine", they think themselves to be more "masculine".

When Nick and Marjorie bait the night lines, it is obvious that Nick is superior in knowledge and technique when it comes to fishing. But when he tells her

"You know everything. That's the trouble. You know you do."

he follows it with

"I've taught you everything. You know you do. What don't you know, anyway?"

He seems to want to take credit for Marjorie's "knowing everything", then follows it up with (what I think is) a sarcastic put-down of "what don't you know, anyway". Her moon (maturity) is rising and he can't understand or stop it, so he puts it away from him and belittles it.
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fanuzzir
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Re: "The End of Something"



ELee wrote:


When Nick and Marjorie bait the night lines, it is obvious that Nick is superior in knowledge and technique when it comes to fishing. But when he tells her

"You know everything. That's the trouble. You know you do."

he follows it with

"I've taught you everything. You know you do. What don't you know, anyway?"

He seems to want to take credit for Marjorie's "knowing everything", then follows it up with (what I think is) a sarcastic put-down of "what don't you know, anyway". Her moon (maturity) is rising and he can't understand or stop it, so he puts it away from him and belittles it.




This is very precise but also quite illustrative of a deteriorating relationship.
The stake of one person in another's development can be what makes for love, or what make for a break-up. The loss of boundaries between two people here leads to resentment--they know too much about each other, though it seems that just one person regrets that.
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ZielinskiJ
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Re: "The End of Something"

The End of Something is about change. Change is foreshadowed when we read about the mill being closed. In detail we are told that after ten years there was nothing left except broken limestone of foundations which tells us the state of Nick and Marjorie’s relationship. We also get to see the depth of Nick and Marjorie’s relationship during their conversations which tells us that there isn't a whole lot of real connection between the two. Nick and Marjorie’s conversations are short answers and remarks which really have no depth about the relationship. Nick’s indifference towards Marjorie is very obvious in his replies to her comments. When Nick and Marjorie argue about knowing everything Nick, I think does it in a sarcastic way because she doesn’t know what it was like in the war or what he had to go through. When Nick tells Marjorie that it isn’t fun anymore he doesn’t really mean that Marjorie isn’t fun anymore, but he means he changed because he tells us that everything has gone to hell inside. Love just wasn’t fun to Nick in the relationship and it could be due to many reasons, but mainly the war because it changed him. The end of the relationship is indeed due to the changes Nick had gone through.
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ZielinskiJ
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Re: "The End of Something"

Do you think Nick really ever truly loved Marjorie or did he just think he did? Why do you think Nick did or didn’t? Give examples.
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carsonc
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Re: "The End of Something"

I think that on some level Nick did once love Marjorie, but because of his experiences with war and the over all changes in his life his opinion on how he felt about Marjorie changed. He’s growing up in a time where the men have a restless feeling about things happening around them and they do not want to be tied down to one thing. Maybe if Nick and Marjorie grew up in a different era Nick would have married Marjorie early and not be having these feels, but because of the modern lifestyles that come into play with the closing of the mill Nick’s views on things change from traditional to modern.
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carsonc
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Re: "The End of Something"

How might Nick and Marjorie’s relationship have been different growing up in a different era say today or maybe before the war? Would it have mattered if Nick married Marjorie before leaving for war or do you think he would have left her when he got back?
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schrackd
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Re: "The End of Something"

If Nick and Marjorie's relationship was set in a later era, I think that their relationship might have worked out a little better. If he didn't have to go to war, then he could have stayed with Marjorie and allowed for their relationship to develop.

It wouldn't have mattered if Nick married Marjorie before leaving, in fact, it would probably have made their relationship worse by the time he returned. Either way, whether they were married or not, the war changed Nick and he lost interest in the relationship.
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NDinan
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Re: "The End of Something"

I think that since their relationship was connected to the old mill, than yes i think that Nick did love Marjorie. The old mill used to be a very good place to make lumber but than one year, it was shut down. I think that this connects with Nick's and Marjorie's relationship because i am sure that before the war, their relationship with each other was a good one, but once Nick returned from the war, his mindset changed. When they went on this trip, Nick broke up with Marjorie which was very unexpected to Marjorie (just like the mill closing down was unexpected). I think that Nick just got tired of his relationship which was evident on their trip because he said "it wasn't fun anymore," and that during the whole trip, they never touched each other like a loving couple would. I think that he did love Marjorie but that love eventually faded.
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ZielinskiJ
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Re: "The End of Something"

Nick and Marjorie’s relationship would have been different if they were in another time era. Today their relationship as it was talked about in the book would not have lasted because they didn’t show a connection to each other or a sense of wanting each other in the book. No matter what time era people are in relationships need that sense of needing each other and wanting to be close to each other the relationship would not have lasted in anytime period. I think overall the relationship in a different time period in all would make things completely different. If seen the relationship before the war then the relationship might have lasted, but we don’t know what it was like before the war. I think the relationship would have worked if he didn’t go to war because he would have changed over time, but he wouldn’t have changed like the war changed him. In the book we get the sense that they did things together before the war like the fishing and how Marjorie loved to fish with him and I think that shows us that the relationship was different before the war. If Nick would have married Marjorie before the war I think he would have left her when he got back. He tells us that he feels like he has gone to hell inside and I don’t think that a marriage or anyone can really change how he feels. The feelings would be the same, but the situation is different and a little more complicated. Nick would have left her because what he was feeling seemed to be eating him up inside.
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kaylap
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Re: "The End of Something"

I honestly don't think it would have made a difference. Whether or not Nick had married her before he left for war, he still would have been a broken man when he came back. I think it almost would have been harder on Nick if he had a wife back home. He would have felt obligated, and at least with him not being married, he didn't have to get a divorce, and it was a lot less life altering than it could have been.
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jsacco
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Re: "The End of Something"

I think that the broken down mill and the run down town was connected with the relationship between Nick and Marjorie. Their relationship, like the mill, was always there, it was a constant in life, it kept things going. But after the war Nick came back, the mill was no more, and his relationship with Marjorie was not the same. Things were different now. He was not the same person. It was not the same town. The war had changed everything. Although Nick loved her, he didnt lover her as deeply, or he just was unable to feel real or let any true emotion out after the war. It had scarred him, and it would take him some time to get over it. His relationship ended unexpectedly, like the mill. feelings fade and things change over time, especially after going through war.
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Hartranft_T
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Re: "The End of Something"

If Nick and Marjorie grew up in a different time period, especially today, things would have been a lot different. Nick's problems mostly resulted from the war. The war has caused his inability to fully love Marjorie and spend time with her in the way that he use to. I don't think Marjorie and Nick should've married before the war. Yes, they were in love. However, they should've waited because what would've happened if Nick would've died in the war. The war caused a part of Nick to die with the war. There is no doubt that Nick didnt' love Marjorie. However, becuase of the war he could not fully devote himself to her and hence Marjorie noticed this and in hte end their relationship failed.
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jacksonc
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Re: "The End of Something"



carsonc wrote:
How might Nick and Marjorie’s relationship have been different growing up in a different era say today or maybe before the war?




If the relationship between Nick and Marjorie had taken place primarily before the war things would be quite different. First of all, it was probably the war that changed Nick the most and that change wouldn't have happened without the war.



carsonc wrote:
Would it have mattered if Nick married Marjorie before leaving for war or do you think he would have left her when he got back?




That wouldn't have mattered. Marriage alone doesn't cause love. Nick would have gone off to the war and fallen out of love anyway. Marrying someone because you're going to war is probably the stupidest thing ever.
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