Hemingway And Alcohol Essay

2775 words - 12 pages

An Analysis of the Presence of Alcohol in Ernest Hemingway's Short Stories Alcohol and Desperation: An Analysis of the Presence of Alcohol in Ernest Hemingway's Short Stories Throughout the short stories of Ernest Hemingway, alcohol inevitably lends its company to situations in which desperation already resides. In an examination of his earlier works, such as In Our Time, a comparison to later collections reveals the constant presence of alcohol where hopelessness prevails. The nature of the hopelessness, the desperation, changes from his earlier works to his later pieces, but its source remains the same: potential, or promise of the future causes a great deal of trepidation and lament ...view middle of the document...

The manner in which they choose to live out their lives becomes paramount in the stories, and alcohol often remains integral to the characters' lives. In moving from the earlier stories of In Our Time to stories published in later collections, the shift in the attitude of the characters toward potential and promise becomes clear."Indian Camp" in In Our Time, depicts Nick Adams a small boy, exposed to death for the first time. This story does not describe desperation nor does it include alcohol; rather, it demonstrates the promise held in the possibilities of life in Nick's final thoughts: "In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die" (Hemingway 95). Despite the events he witnesses in the camp, Nick's future seems boundless, as well as endless. Potential has no limits, and the pressures of fulfilling potential are, as yet, unknown to him. This first story in Hemingway's first published collection serves as a fitting point of departure for the descriptions of desperation that follow; Nick is free from the weight of potential, and judging by his enjoyment of the idyllic setting that surrounds him, it seems that he looks forward to the promise of life."The Three-Day Blow" offers the reader one of the first opportunities to observe the trepidation and fear of future potential. The story happens to feature Nick Adams, but as other stories are examined, different characters will also exhibit the same desperation. "The Three-Day Blow" directly follows "The End of Something," save a vignette, and it seems to allude to the break up described therein. As Nick and Bill begin drinking, their talk includes baseball, fishing, the nature of drunks, and eventually Marge. The discussion of girls and relationships inevitably leads to a foreboding of the future. "'Once a man's married he's absolutely bitched,' Bill went on. 'He hasn't got anything more. Nothing. Not a damn thing. He's done for…'" (Hemingway 122). Nick quietly agrees with Bill's sentiments, but he still longs for Marge. The pleasant memory of the past is stalled by the fear of what the future could hold for his relationship with Marge. The alcohol, in this case, serves to numb the collision between the hopeful past and the hopeless future. The effects of the alcohol leave Nick free of his uncomfortable fears for a while: "None of it was important now" (Hemingway 125). After experiencing this heartbreak in his youth, a little alcohol is enough to clear the trepidation from Nick's mind."Cross-Country Snow" presents Nick Adams working through a fear of responsibility, again with alcohol in hand. Within the text of the story, it becomes clear that Nick is involved with a girl who will give birth to a baby in the summer. Nick's feelings toward this event are illustrated in his desire to forget the life he has in the States and to stay and ski in Europe. Over a bottle of wine, Nick and George discuss the joy of...

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