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Ernest Hemmingway's In Our Time An Essay Comparing The Lost Generation And The People In Hemmingway's Short Stories.

2193 words - 9 pages

Finding the Lost GenerationEvery generation has a certain moniker, a name, with which it is commonly associated. The 60s had their "hippies;" the 90s had "Generation-X," while the 20s had the "lost generation," a group of people defined by expatriate writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein who wrote about the tough psychological and physical scars of war, and about the apathy and hypocrisy of their contemporaries in the US and abroad. Ernest Hemingway clearly describes this feeling of apathy and general disillusionment in several of his short stories that are part of the In Our Time collection. Stories such as "Soldier's Home" and "Cat in the Rain" show an unambiguous and undeniable sense of loss and confusion in the characters' actions, dialogue and personas. Whether it is the coming home of an overly overdue soldier from World War I as in "Soldier's Home" or the seeming helplessness of the American wife in "Cat in the Rain," Hemingway clearly shows that all is not necessarily good in our time, his time. In each of the stories discussed, "Soldier's Home" and "Cat in the Rain," Hemingway shows two diametrically opposed reactions to a seemingly similar problem, the inability to adjust in the world after the end of the war. Each of the main characters in these stories deals with this hindering disability in a unique way; yet, all of these stories share an overwhelming inability to adjust to their surroundings, to the life that they should lead, by the main characters, one that deters them from actively participating in normal life. In Krebs' case, in "Soldier's Home," his inability to cope manifested itself in a general depression, a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder, where he was not able to deal with even his mother's pleas for him to pray. Finally, in the case of the American wife in "Cat in the Rain," her apparent dislike of the lifestyle in which she currently partakes leaves her only to cry for those items that she feels will make her less transient in the world, a house, silverware and even a cat, one she can pet. These stories are similar in that they share a protagonist, a main character, who is unable to deal, one who cannot adjust to life after the war, one who feels lost in his time.Krebs is perhaps the best example of this virtual and psychological alienation that many refer to as the "lost generation." Krebs served in Europe during the war; he went there when he was a young man right out college, he enlisted to serve in the marines, to fight on the Rhine. He was inexperienced and naïve about the world, especially about fighting and death. In the war, this all changed. He became cold, unfeeling, as can is seen in his interaction with his mother. Following the war, Krebs was welcomed coolly, with questions of why he came back so late. Hemingway writes, "By the time Krebs returned to his home town in Oklahoma the greeting of heroes was over." No one wanted to hear his war stories, nor did he...

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