“We’re challenge the rapidly growing, more cynical views

“We’re stronger in the places we’ve been broken” -Ernest HemingwayErnest Hemingway’s short stories belonging to the 1927 short story collection “Men Without Women,” and “Self Reliance” by Ralph-Waldo both present America’s paradox: the pride and the shame of its heritage. The writings of Transcendentalist Emerson, embody the key essays of the Transcendentalist movement, “generating only what is true, beautiful, and good,” whilst the writings of Hemingway, who was born only 17 years after Emerson died, symbolise, dissect and challenge the rapidly growing, more cynical views of America during a war-torn and universally bleak earlier half of the 20th century. The optimism of the relatively newly-gained American Independence and the exploration of previously unseen lands provides the essence and heart of the Transcendentalist movement and through this, it presents the pride of America. Emerson presents his idealism through his concepts that we should be individualistic and not conform to our peers, which reflected the views of the newly independent America, embodying the pride of America, whilst Hemingway presents the more pessimistic views of 20th century America, with some believing he “invented a new way of describing physical experience and the physical world,” through not only the characters themselves but the expositions that most commonly depict them in isolated settings, away from home, the characters find themselves in as they try to (or in some cases don’t) overcome their struggles, which represent the struggles faced by people in Hemingway’s America.”Ten Indians” showcases the sense of pride felt by the all American (the white, hard- working family that have built a reputable life from scratch) about their history which is reflected by the day the events of the story take place- the Fourth of July. The title “Ten Indians” is Hemingway’s homage to the 19th century poem “Ten Little Injuns” which suggests racial undertones which prove to be central throughout the short story. The Garners are presented as the all American family celebrating the all American holiday, dubbed by some modern opinions “A celebration of American hypocrisy.” However, as Hemingway depicts the proud American family, he contrasts them almost immediately with the ‘non-Americans’- the Indians. Objectified, the Indians are “dragged out of the wheel rut” and counted as if they are cattle by Joe Garner and Mrs Garner, commenting “That makes nine of them” and “Them Indians” respectively. The non- Americans are provided with little in the way of sympathy or empathy but with the Garner family forgetting that the Indians are in fact a by-product of white civilisation. Here, Hemingway encapsulates the racism aimed towards the Native Americans predominant in the late 1800s- early 1900s, leaving the reader unsure of whether this story is simply just a reflection of the racism of early 1900s America or, in fact, an extended metaphor for the rampantly growing white supremacist ideology extremely prevalent in the 20th century. Nonetheless, the Indians are still all treated as a collectivist group, with all the Indians having to “wear the same kind of pants” which were supplied to the Indians and other ethnic minorities by the government so the all-Americans could distinguish them, causing them to experience more frequent, more casual racism. But one question that resonates throughout the majority of the short story is the whereabouts of the tenth Indian. Unfortunately for Hemingway’s code hero- Nick Adams- the tenth Indian in the story is Prudie, Nick’s love interest in the story. Hemingway constructed the concept of a ‘code hero’ to epitomize the dignity and honour he valued by the emergent post-war society. As  S. N. Gillani encapsulates “The “code” dictates that the hero act honourably in the midst of what will be a losing battle. In doing so he finds fulfilment: he becomes a man or proves his manhood and his worth.”  Nick’s father informs Nick on how he finds Prudie “in the woods with Frank Washburn.” Here, despite being given an elevated identity in comparison to the other nine nameless Indians, Prudie’s unfaithfulness makes her as worthless as the other 9 Indians. A more sympathetic reading is that Prudie might have experienced the social pressure of Nick “placeing Prudence on a pedestal a pedestal in which she can only fall off.” Whilst the extent to which Hemingway reflects that he is proud of America is equivocal, Emerson embodies the pride of America, himself being famed for believing “America is another name for opportunity”. However, a problem within Emerson’s work is that within his descriptions of ideals (in order to be a “Self-Reliant” American) there is the sense of extreme “masculinity” at the expense of “femininity”. Emerson frequently uses the word “manliness,” and masculine pronouns to address his prospective audience but it comes with a complete poverty of femininity, feminine pronouns and a complete overlooking of any reference to the female sex. At the time of Emerson’s writings, feminism was virtually non-existent, with “The term “feminism” not being coined until the late 1800s and with very few females being granted any great measure of power in society, instead more commonly taking the role of the house-wife. The feminist ideas that were beginning to take hold “were fuelled by major social, intellectual, political, economic and cultural transformations in Europe and North America. To a modern audience, Emerson’s writings may appear sexist and discriminatory towards females, being discarded as “The white man being so fixated on his freedom he didn’t even include his own woman,”directly addressing all “whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” However, there is very little in the way of deliberate malice, yet there is a sense of temporal irony in that these teachings appear more apt to the suffragette movement (which was beginning to come into fruition around the time of Emerson’s death in the latter half of the 19th century). Mirroring Emerson, Hemingway presents another form of discrimination within the all American setting- racism- which mirrors Emerson’s sexism, which could be argued as coming from a place of ignorance, suggesting pride comes at an expense. In order for the characters depicted in “Ten Indians” and Emerson’s views on ‘self-reliance’ to flourish in pride, there has to be a disdain for something that is viewed as differing or obscene.  Hemingway’s short story “A Pursuit Race” is another perfect example of the tragic satire, a genre “that uses wit for the purpose of social criticism,” with the addition of multiple paradoxes presented by Hemingway which, in turn, resonate and reflect American History itself.  The character of William Campbell finds himself in a pursuit race alongside a travelling burlesque show with his only job being to stay slightly ahead of the show as it travels from town to town. However, at the beginning of the story it is evident that the travelling life has taken its toll on Campbell as he throws away all the money he gets paid on alcohol and drugs. The “Pursuit Race” is not only his lifestyle, it is also an extended metaphor for his life. As Tom Stoppard describes “It is a paragraph in which a burlesque show is in a pursuit race with a metaphor.” He runs from his addiction until “the burlesque show catches up with him when he is in bed”. The dialogue between Campbell and Mr Turner, “a middle-aged man with a large stomach and a bald head,” may ultimately be described as tragic but there are comedic undertones which run in parallel with the tragedy which are evidenced through Hemingway’s manipulation of Campbell’s bed sheet as a comedic prop. As Campbell hides beneath the bedsheet he makes light of his depressive episode “I got into this town last night, ‘Did you ever talk through a sheet?” to which Mr Turner replies “Don’t try to be funny. You aren’t funny.” Whilst on the surface this could appear one of the lighter moments of a bleak story, it becomes increasingly obvious that Mr Turner thinks that Campbell is simply drunk, however it is gradually revealed through the dialogue shared between the two characters that Campbell is, in fact, a heroin addict. Here, Hemingway “reminds the reader of the human condition.” In Campbell’s drug infused state he perceives the sheet as a lover meaning “He can kiss this sheet and see right through it at the same time.” The concept of “seeing through someone” perhaps suggests that Campbell has been deceived by an ex-lover which has led to his stoicism in the presence of the Pursuit Race catching up with him. The concept of a man’s travels catching up with him closely mimics Hemingway’s early life serving in the war. “Hemingway’s experience of travel, combat, and love had broadened his outlook. Yet while his war experience had changed him dramatically, the town he returned to remained very much the same.” Mimicking Campbell in “A Pursuit Race,” life had caught up with Emerson who had personal reasons for writing the “Self- Reliance” essay after losing his wife and his 5-year-old son to illnesses. To consolidate this, he wrote “Self-Reliance” reminding, not only everyone else, but also himself that there were ways to achieve dreams as long as you don’t lose faith in yourself. His extended metaphor of a “schoolboy” consolidates the message “You must court him: he does not court you” which could be interpreted as Emerson relating the school boy to time, shedding his own view that ‘time is a friend to no man’, suggesting a slightly darker, sense of mourning to the “self-reliance” essay with Emerson’s own reasons for writing appearing to be present subtly underneath the surface of the text with John Morley surmising this trait of Emerson’s as being “so abrupt, so sudden in its transitions, so discontinuous, so inconsecutive”. Later he recites “Why drag about this monstrous corpse of your memory?” in which Emerson personifies “memory” as a “monstrous corpse” showing his disdain towards his past, letting his emotions flood into more pessimistic undertones. Emerson’s description of “memory” being a “monstrous corpse” can initially be quite disturbing in the mind of the reader, with the sinister adjective “monstrous” playing on the supernatural concept of a “Monster,” dehumanising both the “corpse” and the concept of memory and time, suggesting that time will make monsters of us all. Whilst appearing restrained upon a modern reading, at the time of writing “monstrous” was more potent and compelling, with many Americans still believing in the supernatural, Emerson’s stark comparison would’ve evoked a greater sense of fear with the Transcendentalists themselves being described as “very intelligent people living in an age when religious beliefs required an intellectual defense rather than blind acceptance,” than to the much more scientifically dominated world of the 21st century.Ernest Hemingway presents the case of the ‘shunned’ American in the short story “The Killers” in which the character of Ole’ Anderson has become removed from society, accepting his fatal fate. Ole’ Anderson presents no sense of alarm at his impending death, instead resigning to his bed believing “There isn’t anything I can do about it” repeating this to Hemingway’s code hero- Nick Adams. The absence of fear from Ole’ Anderson could be mistaken for an absence of despair, when in fact, Ole’ Anderson is in fact revelling in despair. Nick finds him “lying on the bed with all his clothes on”, “looking at the wall”. Here, Ole’ Anderson is seen internally suffering with the social expectations for him to be the stereotypical man- “being in charge, acting decisively, containing emotion, and succeeding with women,” and that “talking about one’s feelings is a sign of weakness”- hiding the inner anguish at the thought of having to die before his time. However, the name “Ole'” suggests that, perhaps, Anderson isn’t as young as first envisioned, whilst “Ole'” can simply be used as a term of endearment, the fact he “had” been a boxer suggests that he’d given up boxing long ago. Anderson could’ve also simply accepted his fate, presuming “He got it wrong” suggesting that Anderson believes previous actions warrant his fate. Hemingway neglects to inform the reader of what Anderson had done that made him believe he deserves to die, which is typical of Hemingway’s structuring, pioneering the concept of the “Iceberg theory” in which underneath the surface of an act or a decision lays copious amounts of hidden depths being described by Lamb as “one of the few original styles of his time.” This blind acceptance of death resonates within Hemingway’s own lifetime, being one of an inauspicious few who were eligible to fight in both World Wars. Emerson completely contrasts the feelings of complete surrender felt by Ole Anderson in Hemingway’s “The Killers” with Emerson arguing “Insist on yourself; never imitate.” Emerson frequently reiterates fundamental motifs throughout the essay providing an aura of meditation and omniscience, emblazoned by opening the penultimate paragraph “Insist on yourself,” which brings the reader back to his key argument. Emerson’s philosophical argument is centred on the concept that the ultimate source of truth is within ourselves, convinced that as humans we are not “in touch” with ourselves and don’t trust ourselves so we look to others for guidance. One could argue that this could be seen as Emerson encouraging us to be self-centred when, in essence, he is saying that the truth which lies within us is universal and can be recognised by everyone. Emerson directly contrasts with Hemingway, with Emerson embodying 1800’s America, a time of optimism and hope, newly independent from Great Britain “where one could achieve anything they put their mind to, no matter who they are.” Our reading of Emerson’s work is tainted slightly from reading this over 150 years after it was written. What seemed like a rather novel concept then has become a cliché. At the time of writing this, people felt far less secure about themselves, as individuals and as Americans making it harder for us to see the original driving forces of this in 1838. Emerson’s message is in direct contrast to the underlying message from Hemingway in “The Killers”. Hemingway’s more pessimistic message of there being no light at the end of tunnel an everyman for himself sense, resonates more to a modern audience than the idealistic, community centred, views generated by Emerson. The growing sense of austerity felt in the 21st century resonates more with the earlier half of the 20th century, a sense of injustice and unease makes relation with Hemingway’s message of there being “no light at the end of the tunnel” and the messages of Emerson seem like more and more of an unreachable ideal. To Emerson, all we can know and will ever need to know is inside. Emerson believed that we all have a innate wisdom however few people are able to access to it with Matthew Arnold even arguing that Emerson “makes men self reliant.” In many ways, “Self-Reliance” could be seen as a cultural declaration of independence as much as it is encouraging people to believe in oneself. In today’s society it could be most applicable to a younger reader, struggling with the very powerful forces of social conformity in a technology centred society.  In the 19th century “It was thought that a resourceful individual could accomplish anything with ingenuity, hard work, and a little luck.  No longer did people have to be born with noble blood to become influential in the world.  No longer did people feel that their destinies were somehow manipulated by powers outside their control.”In essence, both Emerson and Hemingway present and embody the America they inhabited. Emerson resonates with the ideals of a world in which we are all the masters of our own fate, which, in the 21st century, would appear almost like a self- help book, coming directly from the collectively optimistic hearts beating with pride, safe from the almost tyrannical George III and still firmly within the honeymoon period of their newly found independence. “Human ingenuity seemed limitless.  All the problems of the world seemed solvable.” Yet only some 100 years after the utopian constructs and ideas encapsulated by Emerson, Hemingway reverberates the ever developing and ever more restricting categories that began to segregate what it truly is to be American with the kings becoming the peasants, emblazoning just how impractical and impossible these categories are to define what is the all American and where the responsibility lies for the newfound shame prevalent in Hemingway’s America. Ultimately this suggests that these socially constructed categories are a scapegoat for one category inflicting its pride resulting in another category’s shame and that perhaps, all categories, at some point, are to blame.

x

Hi!
I'm Harold!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out