Phenomenon of Hemingway and Faulkner


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Hemingway and Faulkner’s Unique Writing Styles

Hemingway and Faulkner focus on the internal struggles of characters within their stories. In “The Sun Also Rises”, the main protagonist, Jake Barnes, goes on a physical and mental journey dealing with the loss of his genitals and in turn struggles with a woman that he fell in love with but will never have. In “As I Lay Dying”, the Bundren family struggles with the loss of their mother, and the very difficult venture to bury her. Faulkner provides very lengthy, informational explanations of each character’s actions, along with a long commentary as to what they are thinking. On the other hand, Hemingway provides the same amount of information and tone that Faulkner does, but with much less information. Hemingway and Faulkner both use unique styles of writing to guide the reader’s mind deeper in the layers of each individual character.

In the story “As I Lay Dying,” every member of the Bundren family endures an emotionally challenging situation. Although every person within this family is completely different, they all have one common mission, to bury their mother/wife. Addie Bundren stated, “I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” (Faulkner 169). With this quotation, the readers are told that Addie is one of the more stable, yet pessimistic members of the Bundren family. Through this quote, Addie shows how life isn’t pure joy, so death is truly the best option. This quotation also shows the readers how Addie does not see her life is of any importance. Although rather morbid, Addie is not the only voice within the story that has this type of mindset. Vardaman also sees life how is truly is, and only thinks through a pessimistic standpoint. An entire chapter is even written dedicated to this view stating that “My mother is a fish” (Faulkner 84). Although very simple and unique, this simplified description is how Vardaman sees and attempts to comprehend his mother’s death. Much like every member of the Brunden family, Vardaman tries to deal with the loss of his mother in any way possible, even if he leaves out emotion and detail. Addie and Vardaman are not the only two characters who have this mindset, another character that has trouble dealing with this dreadful situation is Jewel. Jewel is another person that lives a very pessimistic yet straightforward life. While watching Cash build his Addie’s coffin through the window, Jewel says “It’s because he stays out there right under the window, hammering and sawing on that goddamn box. Where she’s got to see him” (Faulkner 14). Jewel believes that Cash is only creating the coffin where Addie can see it to show off his skills. Jewel sees the rest of the Bundren family as sitting ducks, as they all wait around for Addie’s passing. Jewel believes this due to the fact that he, in his eyes, seems to be the only one who truly cares about Addie. Also, much like Addie, believes that death is the best option for Addie. The only and final explanation as to why Jewel goes along with this journey to bury Addie willingly is because of the love he holds for his mother.

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The characters within many of Hemingway’s novels often are subjected to mental and sometimes physical impairments that impact their lives. In the story, “The Sun Also Rises”, Jake enters the war and had to deal with the mental and physical drainage that came along with losing his penis while in combat. This injury plays a major role in digging the feeling of emptiness within Jake. This drainage affected not only Jake’s love life, but his daily life as well. After being asked to join Robert Cohn in a trip to South America, Jake responds by stating, “Listen Robert, going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried that all. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” (Hemingway 18). From this point forward, the reader already understands that Jake not only has been mentally disabled from this injury, but that he has tried to escape it. Shown within this quotation, Jake has attempted to travel around the world, but he can never escape his handicapped life. Along with his mentally handicapped side of the injury, Jake encounters a more physical side later in the novel. Jake falls deeply in love with a beautiful woman named Lady Brett. However, Brett declares that for a relationship, she will need sexual intercourse with her lover, and due to Jake’s injury, he can not give this to Brett. Due to this loss of a potential relationship, Jake ends up feeling as if he is missing a piece to his life, and truly feels empty without her. Witnessing Brett have sex with many of friends not only emotionally destroys him, but leads to a completely different problem. To forget his injury, and the loss of the love of his life, Jake takes to alcohol. Evidently, the one thing that makes Jake feel whole again is drinking alcohol. After hearing another character, Mike, discuss Brett, Jake states, “It was like certain dinners I remember from the war. There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine, I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people.” (Hemingway 146). This quotation shows just how desperate Jake is and has always been to block up his feelings. Jake no longer copes with his emotions, he covers them with a thick layer of alcohol and never takes the time to assess any scenario. Jake withdraws from his own reality through the usage of alcohol to create a mindset where he truly is fond of his life. Later within the novel, Jake sobers up and finally comes to the realization that he will never have a meaningful relationship with Brett resulting to his final choice to give up on her. “As Barnes now sees, love itself is dead for their generation. Even without his wound, he would still be unmanly, and Brett unable to let her hair grow long.” (Spilka 4). This is the most important realization Jake could have made. He finally understands that his inability to love is not solely his fault, and although he found this answer through drinking, he made a discovery no sober man did.

Although the tone of both Faulkner and Hemingway’s writing is very similar, both of their styles of writing is unique. Faulkner’s style consists of what Hemingway’s writing does not include, “As a stylist, Faulkner’s name is associated with exceedingly long, unwieldy sentences.” (Murphy). Although this style takes the language used and makes it more dramatic, Faulkner uses it to show deep into the characters minds. This takes the readers underneath the character’s skin and shows not only what the character is physically doing, but how and why they are doing it. By writing with this style, the reader’s get to understand the characters at a more personal, level. Although Hemingway converys generally the same information, he does it through a realistic and more straightforward writing. Hemingway’s style of writing includes the usage of short sentences while keeping the discussion between two characters rather short. By keeping the thoughts and conversations short, Hemingway conveys the idea that the characters have a certain unwillingness to assess their problems within their life. In The Sun Also Rises, there is such small plot advancement, and yet it conveys itself as more realistic. Its banter, shorter sentences, incomplete thoughts, and small dialogues all work together in one coherent, realistic type of story. By leaving out metaphors, and complicated thoughts, the readers can connect with the characters by being able to put themselves within the story. “Like the notorious General Cambronne, Hemingway feels that one short spontaneous vulgarism is more honest than all those grandiloquent slogans which rhetoricians dream up long after the battle.” (Levin). Hemingway’s goal is not to create a long, meaningless novel, but rather to inform the readers with a clean, precise, and realistic take on a story.

The writing styles of Hemingway and Faulkner could not be any more different. Although the tone of their writing is very similar, their styles are completely unique in their own ways. Hemingway helps the readers along with a shorter, more realistic look. Faulkner takes the reader on a crazy journey, discussing random topics. Although both are completely stark contrasts of one another, both helped shape English literature into what it is today, and help audiences know that even though the styles may be completely opposite, tone and the overall message of a writing may be the same.

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