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Alcohol And Its Effects On Social Behavior

1132 words - 5 pages

Alcohol and its Effects on Social Behavior

The characters in Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Garden of Eden, exhibit an interesting social behavior throughout the story in their frequent consumption of various types of alcoholic beverages. The character David Bourne especially seems to have one or two drinks often before ordering food when out at the French café near their hotel, regardless of the present time of day. The behavior of these characters, by modern society’s standards, places them in a class of heavy social drinkers, but this may not have been Hemingway’s intention at the time when the novel was written. It is most appropriate, therefore, to discuss the specific drinks mentioned in the text independently of the specific situation, but simply in the context of class and society in general.

The established historian and literary critic Hippolyte Taine once made the valid observation, “Alcohol is the literature of the people” (Haine 100). She uses this idea to show the strong correlation between a simple commodity and its profound effects on the people and issues of a larger society. The emergence of frequent alcohol consumption is first seen in the upper classes and royalty because these people not only have the time to devote to this form of leisure, but they possess the money to finance these habits as well (Haine). This image of a luxurious aristocratic lifestyle appeals to all other members of society who, in turn, wish to emulate this behavior themselves. The idea of alcohol use as a fashion is the stimulus that causes its practice to spread throughout all levels of society.

The upper class may be where the practice of regular alcohol consumption originates, but the working class is the group of people in the very late nineteenth century who expand the practice and link it with all other aspects of society. The favorite drink for this group of people, in general, changes with the times as well (Haine). It began with the fashion of drinking wine with food and for pleasure at gathering such as having a group of friends over for dinner. The presence of alcohol seems to provide a medium and stimulus for conversation and may, therefore, even produce a livelier social gathering. Although wine remains a favorite drink in this type of gathering for a large part of society, brandy emerges as a popular alternative and a leisure drink, not usually consumed during meals. The idea of appetizer and dessert drinks becomes popular during this era with the increasing social atmosphere resulting from the wave of couples having these dinner parties as well.

The next “progression” in the spread of alcohol to all parts of society is the increase in the availability of beer for the working class male specifically. This drink in particular seems to have large social implications because it encourages groups of mostly men to go out to pubs and cafés together (Haine). This is a unique experience for them and it fosters a new...

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