Ernest Hemingway

By Victoria Bauer


Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, to Grace Hall and Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, the second of 6 children. His mother was a classically trained opera singer and teacher, so from an early age he was exposed to literature and music. His father was a doctor who loved outdoors, hence where he got his obsession with manliness, especially in fishing and hunting. Hemingway had a relatively normal childhood free from trauma and graduated from high school in 1917. The year after, in 1918, the United States entered the First World War, but Ernest was rejected from joining due to his awful eyesight. With a love for literature, he received a job as a reporter for a local newspaper and was able to sneak his way into the military as an ambulance driver. Ernest Hemingway went to Paris in 1918 to work as an ambulance driver and it is there that his experiences during the war fueled on of his first books, A Farewell to Arms, written in 1929. Stationed in Italy, the young man suffered numerous injuries, the worst leaving him in a hospital for nine months. While recovering back at home, he had a falling out with his parents so he got another job as a reporter in Chicago where he met his soon-to-be first wife Hadley Richardson. The two quickly got married in 1922 and then decided to move to Paris, A year later, in 1923, Hemingway's first son, John Hadley Nicanor, was born. Over the next few years, the author became good friends with F. Scott Fitzgerald and really delved into his own manliness, mainly becoming obsessed with bull-fighting which became the basis for one of his most famous books, The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926. While writing, Hemingway met Pauline Pfeiffer and fell in love with her. In the meantime his actual wife found out about the affair and divorced her husband in late 1926. In May 1927, Hemingway and Pfeiffer got married. The newlyweds decided to move to Key West in 1928 where he had his second son. Later that year Hemingway's life started the long downhill journey after his father committed suicide. The majority of his emotions were poured into his books which caused him to become an overnight celebrity. He traveled the world for the next few years, sparking influences from different places, like Africa and Spain, for new books. During this time Hemingway met fellow writer Martha Gelhorn whom he married after divorcing Pfeiffer in 1940. The third marriage did not last more than 4 years when Hemingway met his fourth and last wife Mary Walsh. After 3 dates Mary Walsh and Ernest Hemingway married in 1946. By the end of the second World War, Hemingway became sick of war and moved to Cuba. The last decade or so of his life was spent drinking heavily and writing short stories. He drank so much that his health rapidly declined and at some point developed some sort of mental illness. Doctors weren't exactly sure what it was, but diagnosed him anyways with diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and extreme depression. In an attempt to get her husband to regain mental health, Mary forced Hemingway to go through shock therapy which actually caused his mental health to get progressively worse. The day before he died, he begged his wife not to make him go to the shock therapy session, but she insisted. The next day, on July 2, 1961, Ernest Hemingway shot himself in the head in his home in Ketchum, Idaho and died.

Hemingway was greatly influenced by the events that surrounded him, mainly the two world wars, his travels, and the death of his father. He felt that the best way to write a book was to write straight from own experiences which he did in all of his books. He was motivated by his own life and what he went through.


Ernest Hemingway grew up in a variety of different eras in American history, from the end of the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era and the Roaring Twenties as well as the Great Depression. The rapidly changing times as well as major parental influences caused Hemingway to become obsessed with his own masculinity something that was prevalent in the majority of his books. As modern America began a temporary downhill slide during the Cold War so did Ernest Hemingway, who unfortunately was not able to recover from it unlike the US.

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed" - Ernest Hemingway

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Hemingway during the 21st Century

Had Ernest Hemingway lived during the 21st century, I personally do not believe that he would have been nearly as successful as he was during the early to mid 1900s. Although his 1929 novel was, in its most basic form, an anti-war propaganda paper which would have been perceived well in today's society, people now expect literary works to lift them from reality and into a fantasy world. Hemingway had a tendency to keep his novels very down to earth with his tendency for understatements. All of his works came from his own experiences which could be seen as "too plain" for the thrill seekers of modern America.

If I had the specific set of skills Hemingway was blessed with as a writer, I would most likely concentrate my time on becoming a muckraker. Because he was such a blunt author, I feel that investigative journalism would be much more successful.


Bob Corbett, an English major, reviews one of Ernest Hemingway's most famous books A Farewell to Arms describing the effects that Hemingway leaves on the reader (specifically Corbett). With previous knowledge of the book, Corbett gives commentary before and after he rereads Hemingway's work.* 45 years later, Bob Corbett explains how the novel really embraces who Ernest Hemingway was as an author and as a person in general. Hemingway liked to keep everything very real and believable, something he did when developing Catherine Barkley's character and her relationship with the main character, Frederick. The author uses various ways of critiquing the novel, punctuated by the frequent description of writing.**

*Periodic Sentence

** Participial Phrase

A Farewell to Arms (1929)

One of Hemingway's most popular novels was written after his experiences serving as an ambulance driver on the Italian front in the first World War. The main character, Frederick, also serves as an ambulance driver in Italy and is severely injured, much the same as Hemingway. After meeting the love of his life, Frederick's character changes to show the author's anti-war view. The most prominent theme throughout the book is definitely the pacifist propaganda that is sprinkled into chapters. The novel exploits the grim reality of war. This is because Ernest Hemingway became extremely exhausted by the constant war efforts especially since he went and reported on each war, up until WWII. This is also one of the first books where the reader really gets an idea of Ernest Hemingway's obsession with masculinity. When A Farewell to Arms was first published, the Great Depression had just begun which did not effect Hemingway's almost overnight success. In the post World War time period, Hemingway become part of the Lost Generation, those men who returned from the war effort and suffered through a time of mass confusion because they didn't know what to do with themselves. Writing this novel was a way for Hemingway to get back into the swing of civilian life.

Had this novel been written during a later time period, like the Cold War and Vietnam War, it would have been even more appreciated than it already had bee. During this time the American public was getting sick and tired of having to suffer through more lives being lost and listening to what the next tactic would be. Hemingway's blunt writing style would have kept those who had not experienced the war first hand intrigued as well as allowed the general public to widely accept and agree with what he had to write about.

Ernest Hemingway was widely known for his writing style which included brash vocabulary and understatements. The 1929 novel was no exception. Bluntness was a way that the author was able to show the harsh and grim reality of the war and war efforts. By essentially "keeping it real", Hemingway made everything believable, from his characters to the events that occurred (even though everything was based on Hemingway's own experiences). Hemingway poured all of his emotion into his books which is how the vivid imagery came into play.

Hemingway vs. William Faulkner

After reading Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and Faulkner's As I Lay Dying it is very clear to see the differences between these two writers. Although, for the most part, both authors tend to write about the same topics in an effort to see a changing America, the style in which they got their point across are two worlds apart. Faulkner was the type of writer who would make use of long, complex sentence structures and elegant diction whereas Hemingway believed that no one would be able to understand him if he used "big words." Hemingway has a type of writing style called asyndetic parataxis which meant that his sentences were very basic and often seemed disconnected. Faulkner was the complete opposite and attempted to make sure that everything connected in order to get the desired smooth effect. It is also known that Faulkner and Hemingway were not friendly with each other and often would criticize each other's writing.

Works Cited

Corbett, Bob. "Book Review -- Ernest Hemingway. A FAREWELL TO ARMS." Book Review -- Ernest Hemingway. A FAREWELL TO ARMS. 2005. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

"Ernest Hemingway Quote." BrainyQuote. Xplore. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

Hemingway, Ernest, and Patrick Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. The Hemingway Library Edition, First Scribner Trade Paperback ed. Scribner, 1929. Print.

"Hemingway Versus Faulkner Writing Styles." Guilford College Writing Manual. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.