Ernest Hemingway

Lydia Sobhi

Biographical Sketch

  • Born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois
  • 2nd out of 6 children to Clarence and Grace Hemingway
  • Middle class
  • Alcoholic
  • After graduating high school, Ernest became a reporter for Kansas City Star
  • Hemingway was very adventurous which led him to be an ambulance driver in WWI on the Italian front (due to poor eyesight he could not directly be in the army)
  • Seriously wounded by trench mortar shells and was taken to a hospital in Milan where he fell in love with a nurse, Agnes Von Krusky. But their relationship ends when she left him for an Italian officer.
  • He uses his experience with Agnes in "Farewell to Arms"
  • After recovering, he reported 80 articles for the Toronto Star
  • Married Hadley Richardson in 1922, and moved to Paris to be a foreign correspondent where he became friends with Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound
  • He became part of the Lost Generation- a group of expatriates who were turned towards Modernist writing
  • Published first novel, The Sun Also Rises, in 1926
  • Has an affair and divorces Hadley
  • Marries the woman he was having an affair with, Pauline Pfeiffer
  • Correspondent in Spanish Civil War
  • In 1933 he goes to East Africa for a safari
  • Hemingway learns that his father committed suicide
  • Marries Martha Gellhorn in 1940
  • Marries Mary Welsh in 1946
  • Hemingway wins the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 for his novel The Old Man and the Sea
  • Spent winters in Key West Florida and summers in Wyoming- to hunt and fish
  • Survived war wounds, two plane crashes, four marriages, and multiple affairs
  • Chronic alcoholism leads to diabetes and liver failure
  • Begins to lose memory which effects his writing and everyday life
  • Commits suicide in 1961

"When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature"- Ernest Hemingway

Influences and Motivation

  • Family spent summers in Michigan where he learned to love the outdoors
  • His father taught him to hunt and fish around the shore and forests near Lake Michigan.
  • His love of nature influences his writing and lifestyle
  • Hemingway's life was full of adventure and danger: he toured Italy, went to East Africa on a safari, correspondent in Spanish Civil War, reported and participated in D-Day, and an ambulance driver in WWI.
  • His friendship with other Lost Generation writers such as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Touring Italy with Ezra Pound in 1924 motivated him to write the book
  • F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby inspired Hemingway to write larger texts
  • Had a larger than life personality
  • His motivation to write was to make things last forever which was significant for him towards the end of his life when his memory began to fail him.


  • Ernest Hemingway grew up during the Progressive Era
  • Era of change brought many new reforms under Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft such as:

Trust busting- breaking up monopolies

Child labor laws

Minimum wage and maximum working hours

New safety regulations- 14th amendment

Temperance and prohibition

Women's suffrage movement- 19th amendment ratified in 1920 (after he returns from WWI)

Pure food and drug act

  • Since this time period modeled change, it allowed Hemingway to become a less conservative writer and influenced his Modernist writing technique.
  • A Farewell to Arms portrays the increase in the role of women in society during this time period through his portrayal of Catherine Barklay and other nurses.
  • A Farewell to Arms is modeled loosely off his life during WWI
  • The main character, Frederic, is an ambulance driver in the Italian Army
  • Both are adventurous souls who have an appreciation for nature
  • Mortar shells injure their legs and have to undergo knee surgery
  • Recover in a Milan hospital where both fall in love with one of the nurses
  • Both are alcoholics
  • Both stories end with tragedy and loneliness
  • the loss of love and betrayal


A Farewell to Arms was published in 1929 after WWI had ended and the Allies had won. This time period encompassed the roaring twenties which signified a change in social and gender behavior. The roaring twenties showed change through social experimentation, increased organized crime, women's suffrage, higher education, and defiance of prohibition. Flappers symbolized the freedom that the youth gained due to the model T cars, and the shift away from conservative values. This shift in values is seen in Hemingway's writing which was considered highly sexual and profane. He published the book during the very beginning of Great Depression which is often said to have been set off by the stock market crash of 1929. America's economy was failing as a result of the significant production decrease after the war was over and mass speculation in the stock market. Hemingway was perhaps encouraged to write a book in order to make a living during the start of the Great Depression. Hemingway uses his experience in WWI as an ambulance driver to create a very modernist and semi-autobiographical novel. During WWI time period, temperance gained momentum in the United States which restricted the sale of alcohol in order to preserve resources for the war. The increase in the temperance movement may have been one of the factors that led to Hemingway's decision to be an ambulance driver on the Italian front where alcohol was plentiful. Additionally during WWI, women experienced more freedom by taking jobs as nurses in hospitals (Catherine Barklay). During this time period, sex, and children out of wedlock were still taboo topics which he incorporated into his book. His writing style was deemed inappropriate for this time period, and was banned in some cities and countries. However this did not hinder the books popularity which became his first bestseller.


War: There is no real victor in war; all sides face the grim brutality of war which tears apart families and friends. Hemingway conveys that war brings loss, death, and eventually resent. The main character begins to resent and regret the war which is keeping him away from his beloved Catherine. The Italian retreat represents the cruelty of the war which turned many paranoid and suspicious. Due to high tensions, Frederic is accused of being a German spy due to his different accent and in order to save himself he must desert the army.

Love and Loss- Hemingway associates love with loss. As soon as he begins to fall in love with someone, he ends up betrayed by the person indirectly or directly. However, Hemingway believes in the power of love. Therefore,Alfred Lord Tennyson's quote, "it is better to have loved and lost than to never have love at all, rings true in this novel.

Writing style

Likely due to Hemingway's experience as a newspaper reporter, his writing style featured short, simple, and direct sentences. Hemingway's incorporation of dialogue is sometimes difficult to follow due to the long lines of continuous dialogue which does not specify who is talking at that moment. However, the dialogue allows the reader to connect with the characters which is significant because Hemingway do not actually describe the characters. Therefore, readers have to follow the dialogue closely to understand who is speaking which allows the reader to use his or her imagination to follow his train of thought. Hemingway stresses symbolic features such as weather to foreshadow the story. His vivid use of imagery allows the reader to visualize the nature that he was so found of and transport the reader into another part of the world. Since his writing was approachable and identifiable, it opened literature up to the common man who could easily engage and comprehend the realistic style of his writing. Hemingway's characters in his novels typically portrayed a part of himself. For example in The Old Man and the Sea, both Hemingway and the main character are fishermen. Hemingway portrays his avid love of nature and being an outdoorsman in his novels. Hemingway's "inappropriate" writing style can be seen in Hemingway's original copy of A Farewell to Arms which included curse words which were then edited out and replaced by dash marks. Hemingway's writing style was different and similar from that of Miller's. Both authors incorporated parts of history in their novels such as the Salem Witch trials in Miller's The Crucible and World War I in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. However, Miller's writing style is more dramatic and suspenseful than Hemingway's.

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Historical Summation

J. Donald Adams praises Hemingway's accomplishments and lifestyle while acknowledging that Hemingway had flaws that made him human. Adams finds Hemingway's adventurous and dangerous lifestyle to be in accordance with Hemingway's unfortunate demise. Hemingway tended to have near death incidents, and was in fact infatuated with the idea of death. Adams lauds Hemingway's devotion to his writing and relates to Hemingway's passion for nature. Adams felt a personal tie to Hemingway despite never meeting him in person, and they bonded over their love for the Rocky Mountains through letters.(participial phrase) He underscores Hemingway's ability to write. Adams compares Hemingway to an array of writers including Fitzgerald who does not remotely come close to Hemingway's brilliance as a writer. Despite Hemingway's lack of empathy, emotional attachment, and understanding of relationships between men and women, Hemingway was an accomplished writer and will continue to leave a lasting influence in the world. (periodic sentence)

Hemingway in Modern Era

Hemingway would have been more successful during a later time period. His books were perceived as sexual and scandalous for his time period, but are considered usual and normal in today's time period. Evidence also shows that in today's modern era, his books are widely read throughout schools and homes throughout the world.

If I had Hemingway's writing skills, I would write novels based off society today in order to preserve the history of this time period. This way, in the future, people will be able to have a glimpse into the lives of people in the modern era, and understand how we lived.

Political Cartoon

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Works CIted