Joyce and Hemingway: Resemblance and Diversity

A Critical Comparison of Two Modernist Short Story Collections.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………. 01

2. Interaction and Character Development …………………………………….. 02

2.1. Sociological Issues and Relationships ……………………………….. 03

2.2. Personal Lifestyles, Values and Perspectives …………………….. 09

2.3. The Role of Language ………………………………………………………. 12

3. Setting and Scenery ……………………………………………………………………. 15

4. The Authors’ Individual Influences …………………………………………….. 16

5. Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………. 18

Works Cited ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 20

1. Introduction

The genre of the modernist short story offers an extensive array of analytical approaches, be it from a sociological, linguistical or philosophical point of view. From the very beginning of the modernist movement at the turn of the 20th century, writers who have been influenced by the structural fundamentals and the notions regarding content that are connoted with the modernist literary style have achieved to drastically change the artistic landscape. Wilson explains:

“At the beginning of the twentieth century, numerous things – for example, changes in social organization, new technologies, changes in publishing practices – contributed to a changing sense of the

meaning of culture, and a changing relation between writing and the world.” (9).

Never before have inner conflicts, monologues of despair and personal psychological turmoil been displayed in such clarity, drawing the reader closer to the protagonists’ often desolate positions and making their emotional world amenable to the reader’s mind.

In a time when national identity was a central issue of the political and cultural life, the focus of literary works of art was bound to contain a certain amount of local flavour, showing itself in the depiction of characters and locations likewise. Even the way of the protagonists’ thinking often mirrors an increased awareness of national individuality in the author, be it in the presentation of stereotypical behaviour or in subjective impressions that express themselves in the characters’ attitude. In order to take a closer look at the importance of the issue of national identity, a comparison between the works of two writers with different national origins seems appropriate.

This term paper is meant to give a close reading to two short story collections, the first, Dubliners, being written by the Irish-born James Joyce and the second, entitled The Snows of Kilimanjaro, introducing the modus operandi of the US-American Ernest Hemingway. It will be attempted to establish a general stylistic comparison in respect to the use of metaphors, imagery and symbolism, not omitting a side note on the particular literary styles of the authors. A contextual examination will be conducted to reveal the central topics and key concerns of the individual artists. In addition, the findings of said analyses will be taken into consideration when talking about the biographical backgrounds and personal preconditions that may have led to the different ways of writing, should differences occur. In the course of this term paper, the aim is to further point out the existence of stylistic and thematic distinctions that can be traced back to personal factors in the authors, namely upbringing, lifestyle, national origin and composition of character. Although Joyce and Hemingway can both be called central figures in early 20th century modernist writing, it will be tried to prove that even within a single literary genre and within a closely set time frame, individual factors can dramatically change the way in which two authors deal with the concept of human emotions and their portrayal.

2. Interaction and Character Development

One of the essential topics that bring life to a short story is that of the protagonists’ behaviour concerning their fellow characters within the plot line or, as presented in short stories that mainly deal with the inner development of a character rather than interaction, their own reflections concerning their individual situation. It’s within these moments of dialogue between different characters or between protagonist and reader that the short story needs to make up for the extensive time a novel can dedicate to character development. Therefore, the author must condense the deployment of his characters’ personalities in regard to sheer length of text without depriving them of naturalness and depth.

In the cases of Joyce and Hemingway, this is achieved by several methods that often correspond in order to deliver a detailed and sharply contoured outline of the particular characters’ mentality. As a significant stylistic device in modernist literature, the stream of consciousness writing method is always perceptible in the composition of both Dubliners and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, even if it is not explicitly and exclusively applied throughout the texts. Instead, the short stories which are comprised in said collections make use of descriptive allusions that mirror the momentary state of the protagonists’ mind and varying from the position of a first person narrator [Joyce: “The Sisters”; Hemingway: “My Old Man”] over the third person limited-omniscient narrator who concentrates on particular aspects of a protagonist’s psyche [Joyce: “Clay”; Hemingway: “Up in Michigan”] to the third person omniscient narrator [Joyce: “A Little Cloud”; Hemingway: “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”]. The adaptation of the narrative perspective in relation to the current story line’s demand, together with the vast variety of specific emotive presetting and the insight that the reader is granted in the procedure of personal development establish a dense atmosphere that carries the plot line and the resulting tension likewise.

A remarkable finding is that neither Joyce nor Hemingway seem to solely concentrate on one central human emotion when drawing the bases of each short story. While one such emotion may be predominant, it is almost in every case supported by lateral sentiments or motives that intensify the plot line on three interdependent levels: the characters’ affective appearance, the atmosphere that pervades the particular story and the reader’s integration in the ongoing narrative process, consequently leading to a raised comprehension and identification with the literary piece of art at hand. To elaborate further on the functions of textual elements in the short stories of Hemingway and Joyce, a topic-related consideration is inevitable.

2.1. Sociological Issues and Relationships

The social networks within the stories that are contained in either collections are widely influenced and laced by negative sentiments, although the initial impetus to take action may derive from a positive emotion, such as love or compassion. Anyhow, the resulting outcome and the way in which it comes to pass often pervert the positive aspects completely, leaving behind dismal conditions for frustrated characters.

One example of this type of course a plot line can take may be found in Joyce’s “Eveline”. A young woman, and eponym of the story, is about “to leave her home” (Joyce 37), a place she can now only feel a mixture of familiar indifference and outright repulsion for. The reasons for this mentality can be sought out when the reader learns about the facets of her environment that still touch her, for instance “those familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided” (Joyce 38) or “those whom she had known all her life” (Joyce 38). In contrast, the fact that “she had to work hard, both in the house and at the business” (Joyce 38) and her aggressive father who “had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother’s sake” (Joyce 39) portray the negative side of her life’s routine. However, the plan of leaving this world behind fills her with hope that “in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that” (Joyce 38) and that the “very kind, manly, open-hearted” (Joyce 39) man she was going to be married to “would save her” (Joyce 41). These hopes are instantly shattered at the time of her scheduled departure when a sudden onset of fear makes Eveline pray “to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty” (Joyce 42); to either go away and seek her own happiness or stay and endure the rough, dull, but “not [. . .] wholly undesirable life” (Joyce 39) she has gotten used to. Finally, a fit of panic takes hold of the confused protagonist, “[s]he grippe[s] with both hands at the iron railing” (Joyce 42) and, thus, is left behind when the boat departs with her chance to “escape” (Joyce 41) and the man who she hoped “would give her life, perhaps love, too” (Joyce 41). Here, the inner conflict between the sense for a subjective idea of duty and the desire to lead a fulfilled and contented life clash when the uncertainty of both future prospects result in making the main character “passive, like a helpless animal” (Joyce 43). The very feeling that she wanted to ban from her life in the end dooms her to cope with the fate of missing her one chance to alter the status quo and abandon a painful past of violence, death, suffering and hardship.

A similar tale of childish hopes and their destruction can be made out in Hemingway’s “Up in Michigan”, where the young shop and kitchen aide Liz falls in love with Jim, “a good horseshoer” (Hemingway 25) who “bought the blacksmith shop” (Hemingway 25) in the town of Hortons Bay (cf. Hemingway 25). The affection that Liz feels for the man “from Canada” (Hemingway 25) who “did not look much like a blacksmith even with his leather apron on” (Hemingway 25) is characterised as innocent and naïve, as is exemplified by making aware the positive aspects of Jim in a simple, yet enthusiastic fashion (cf. Hemingway 25). Moreover, Hemingway portrays her as inexperienced in respect to intimate relationships when he states that it “made her feel funny” (Hemingway 25) “that she liked it the way the hair was black on his arms and how white they were above the tanned line when he washed up in the washbasin outside the house” (Hemingway 25). In contrast to the vast amount of attention that Liz dedicates to Jim, he only “notice[s] that her hair [is] always neat behind” (Hemingway 25) and “he liked her face because it was so jolly but he never thought about her” (Hemingway 25). His key interests lie in the field of outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing (cf. Hemingway 26f). In addition, “he loved the taste and the feel of whisky” (Hemingway 28), which he consumes excessively (cf. Hemingway 27). The finale of the story shatters Liz’s dreamy fondness for Jim when he rapes her “in the shelter of the warehouse” (Hemingway 28). After this violent sexual offence, the entire confusion of Liz and the incompatibility of her feelings are clearly visualised by Hemingway explaining that “she was cold and miserable and everything felt gone” (29) while then again she “took off her coat and leaned over and covered him with it [. . .] neatly and carefully” (29).

Both authors depict the innocence of a young woman who, at the end of the corresponding short story, is stuck in an emotional situation of utter helplessness and reclusion. The image of the female protagonist who is used to a life of work and hardship and who finds comfort in dreaming of a brighter future, be it the prospect of finding love alone, or with the aspiration for a prosperous lifestyle, evokes compassion in the reader. This compassion increases even more when the main characters’ fate draws them to the brink of disaster without an actual wrongdoing on their account. The fact that Hemingway’s story appears overall to be ruder than Joyce’s may be pinpointed to the differences in their setting, as Joyce obviously sets “Eveline” in Dublin, whereas Hemingway chose the town of “Hortons Bay” (25), in reality “Horton Bay” (cf. ; Comley/Scholes 25), which is situated near the city of Charlevoix, Michigan. The undertone of family life that runs through “Eveline”, at least bringing in a distant feeling of secured adaptation, is absent in “Up in Michigan”, which is dominated by an atmosphere of roughness and unease.

Love, or the absence of it, plays a major role in Dubliners and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. “A Little Cloud” by James Joyce introduces a man called Little Chandler to the readers and lets them witness a meeting with Ignatius Gallaher in a decadent local bar. The evening, which brings up unfulfilled desires for self-actualisation through artistic work and for leading a more glamorous life, ends with his acquaintance remaining unchanged in the aura of his “patronizing” (Joyce 88) attitude and Little Chandler returning to his wife and child who appear to restrain him from his life’s dream. In the closing scene of the story, the only thing in Little Chandler’s life that he thought surpassed Gallaher’s achievements, namely having found love and “the girl” (Joyce 89) for a committed relationship, has unmistakably abandoned him. The love to his wife Annie is worn out and her eyes “repelled him and defied him” (Joyce 91). The place in his wives heart that used to belong to him is now occupied by their child (cf. Joyce 93f) and Little Chandler has to endure the “hatred” (Joyce 93) that by now dominates his marriage. With “a dull resentment against his life” (Joyce 91), the protagonist longs to “escape from his little house” (Joyce 91f) and “try to live bravely like Gallaher” (Joyce 92). Finally, “tears of remorse” (Joyce 94) make clear that he can not and will not follow his dream to escape and seek self-fulfilment through becoming a writer and living his desired life.

Hemingway embeds the concept of absence of love and the failure to live up to one’s artistic desires in the title story of the short story collection at hand, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. It deals with Harry and Helen, a macho author with a writer’s block and the rich woman who has a one-sided love affair with him. While Harry is slowly dying due to a gangrenous leg that became infected after a minor injury in the African wild, Helen is trying to soothe him and re-establish a sentimental unity with her lover. He, in turn, acts verbally very violent and abusive, thus showing extensive discontent with his life, apprehension of his imminent death and an extreme anger directed to Helen. Her love for him is not returned, in contrast Harry acts pragmatically when he outlines to himself what “he had traded away what remained of his old life” (Hemingway 10) for. He comes to the conclusion that “he had traded it for security, for comfort” (Hemingway 10), “that when he fell in love with another woman, that woman should always have more money than the last one” (Hemingway 9). Harry’s macho personality clearly cannot cope with being the “possession” (Hemingway 9) of an attractive (cf. Hemingway 15), yet “dull” (Hemingway 20) woman. His hatred unloads upon her in outright fury (“Your damned money was my armour. My Swift and my Armour.” Hemingway 6; “I’ll go on hurting you. It’s more amusing.” Hemingway 7; “You rich bitch.” Hemingway 7). The last stage of Harry’s death struggle calms and allays him, as he painlessly succumbs to the infection that has overpowered him. During his last hours he was even close to being a writer again, depicted through short interludes within the story that imitate text passages from fictional writing.

When comparing these two short stories, a crucial difference in writing style and mood is noticeable. Joyce puts his focus mainly on feelings of regret, failure, shame and unhappiness. His tales often lack the impulsive aggression that runs through extensive parts of Hemingway’s writing. Instead, a solemn melancholy surrounds Joyce’s protagonists, meaning that their suffering and their plight, even if they should result in an outburst of anger as in “Counterparts”, always leave behind a certain amount of sadness. The social structures, which are sometimes painful to observe in their harmfulness, are marked by an undertone of despair, rather, than by the tantrums that Hemingway so often describes. He, in turn, puts an emphasis on manliness and macho behaviour, as regards content. His male protagonists are often engaged in fights or war, they are heavy drinkers, are fond of working with their hands or are experienced hunters. The element of male power and the resulting ideas of mastering one’s life and conquering what is desired sometimes appear to be quite stereotypically, though. Nevertheless, this does not hinder the male characters in Hemingway’s short stories to express themselves artistically or to excel in the field of intellectual enterprise. Berman comments on this topic thus: “At first Hemingway appears to be impatient with the process of thinking: he even seems to be anti-intellectual. But while Hemingway rejects thinking, he does not reject thought.” (66).

Dubliners occasionally talks of “artiste[s]” [Joyce 67; 104; 155ff; 160; 163; 166f], a topic that seems to be essential for Joyce. Traversing the lines of social position and of class-related activities proves to be a favourite motif for him. One example for this type of plot line is seen in “After the Race”, the story of a young man called Jimmy Doyle, who tries to keep up with his newly-found rich friends, who literally live their lives on the fast lane, as they are keen on participating in car races. Additionally, their activities include such pastimes like drinking or gambling for money, a hobby that turns out to bring the main character to the brink of financial ruin. Although he realizes that the direction his life is taking by joining in the reckless adventures of his companions may lead to a crisis (cf. Joyce 51), he willingly takes this risk and aspires to keep up with them. Dazzled by the glamour and the insouciance surrounding him, he knowingly pushes the boundaries of his own luck. Drunken with ecstasy and alcohol likewise, the inevitable remorse awaits him once the intoxication wears off. Joyce actively intersperses allusions to the presumed desire of the characters in Dubliners to intrude and create their own space in higher cultural circles.

A similar topic is addressed in “Out of Season” by Ernest Hemingway. A young gentleman and his wife are led through Italy by a local gardener and labourer, who, with great enthusiasm, tries to use the foreign couple in order to make his own life more pleasant. He convinces the young gentleman to go fishing with him, he talks him into handing him money for buying alcohol and food for the three and he attempts to get away from his hardly prestigious job at “the hotel garden, breaking up frozen manure with a dung fork” (Hemingway 95). While this action takes place rather in the foreground of the entire story, an underlying conflict between the married couple dominates the atmosphere in the background. Their fate and their future, however, seem to be of no interest for the Italian Peduzzi, who’s attention remains fixed on his well-being and the prospect of an amusing day (cf. Hemingway 94). The chance to escape his familiar social circles in the least and to bring a little lustre into his everyday life through foreign money takes hold of Peduzzi and makes him obsessed with the plan to use this chance for his advantage, how ever small it may be.

Breaking out of the routine that one’s life dictates is a common desire in Joyce’s and Hemingway’s characters, although Hemingway constantly builds up a contrast to this claim by portraying people who enjoy staying in their selected lifestyles, however unsatisfying they may be. Then again, remaining in the well-known but loathed structures is shown as being the mere consequence of not having the mental energy to break free and induce a change. Once more, the prevailing emotion is frustration, both in the characters and the readers for witnessing the desolate situation of the protagonists and their inability to alter it.

Overall, the short stories of Hemingway and Joyce are, in respect to social implications, dominated by the negative side of the emotional scale. Central sentiments that are woven into the plot lines include hatred and fear, jealousy and egoism, shame and anger. The lack of pure feelings like love or compassion is a strain for the readers, due to the unfulfilled hopes of the protagonists whose collapse often remains too quiet to trigger a cathartic effect. While more and more characters’ fates are depicted and their demise is witnessed, the corresponding psychological impact on the audience is undoubted.

Concerning the issue of topic, Hemingway often appears to rely on the stereotypical differences between man and woman, as a large number of his texts work on this concept. His characters are endowed with masculine or feminine attributes to characterise their personality in greater detail (cf. the alcoholism of Helen in Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”), thereby giving a very clear and simple mode of creating lively protagonists in the limited space that the concept of the short story brings with itself. In turn, Joyce constantly plays on the transgression of boundaries, in particular those of class, status, wealth or religion. Not fitting into a strange environment or seeking to belong to a different social group is what marks the actors in the Dublin he describes. Therefore, it can be said that Joyce goes about his writing more calmly, which provides his tales with a mournful power. The superficial, yet more brutal world of Hemingway’s fiction draws its energy from the condensed antipathy of the people who inhabit said world. Owing to the strong nature of the negative emotions that he conveys, the impact of his narratives must not be underestimated. However, the deepness of the melancholy of Dubliners and the variety of topics that are being addressed highlights Joyce as the more versatile writer in respect to sociological concerns.

2.2. Personal Lifestyles, Values and Perspectives

For the average reader, certain aspects concerning the personal views on various issues of the characters that Hemingway and Joyce introduce must seem provoking or even revolting. The overall attitude can, at times, be very bold or even offensive. Factors of the protagonists’ everyday life are as discussable as certain views on religion, politics and moral in general.

One particular perspective on things is shared in the short stories “A Mother by James Joyce and “Soldier’s Home by Ernest Hemingway. In both tales, a mother’s wish to take care of her child is portrayed, in the first case by supporting and sometimes pushing the own daughter in a musical act and in the second case by trying to talk a young man, who has recently returned from fighting in World War 1, into finally making something of his life. Joyce presents the mother as being very dominant, both in relation to her daughter (“Mrs. Kearney spoke into Kathleen’s ear with subdued emphasis”, Joyce 164) as in her contact to the staff of the musical production that her daughter was booked to play (“She tossed her head and assumed a haughty voice: ‘You must speak to the secretary. It’s not my business. I’m a great fellow fol-the-diddle-I-do.’”, Joyce 168). Her attitude seems protective of her daughter on one hand (“’My daughter has her contract. She will get four pounds eight into her hand or a foot she won’t put on that platform.’”, Joyce 167), but also keen on pushing her to achieve a certain amount of artistic and financial success (cf. Joyce 155). At the point in the story when “Mrs. Kearney’s [the mother] conduct was condemned on all hands” (Joyce 168), the reader is torn between feeling compassion for her wish to see justice done and her daughter being rightfully paid and feeling annoyed due to the ambition she puts in the promotion of her daughter’s contractual rights, even if it means embarrassing and domineering over her own child.

The mother in Hemingway’s story carries more aspects of a submissive role in her motherhood. She argues from a seemingly lower position, as is proven by the imploring way she talks to her son and conciliates between him and his father (cf. Hemingway 76ff). At the same time, this position holds a lot of moral power for her, as she can use her sadness and worries to emotionally force her son to act in a particular way. Her behaviour proves to be successful when “she started crying” (Hemingway 77) and her son Harold questions the blocking way he reacted earlier (cf. Hemingway 77). Whether Harold’s mother uses this method of sentimental pressure intentionally or without the knowledge of it remains unclear, though.

The mothers’ initial protective intention appears to be perverted at some point in both plot lines, showing the emotional force by which they try to direct their children and / or the people around them in a certain way. Although the methods are outlined as being drastically different, namely outgoing and confrontational in the case of Joyce’s A Mother” and stealthily and subversive in Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home”, both mothers express the tremendous inherent eagerness in them to gain a status of well-being for their children, at no matter what cost.

Totally different lifestyles are portrayed in Joyce’s “An Encounter” and Hemingway’s “The Battler”. Central point of both narratives is a meeting between young boys (or a single young boy in the case of “The Battler”) and rather obscure and shady men whose intentions or backgrounds don’t appear to be of a decent nature. Joyce lets two boys go on a journey on their own and, during their trip, meet a man who is driven by a sadistic and possibly paedophile fantasy of whipping boys as a form of punishment for their general immorality. This man tells one of the boys his fantasies in great detail, but the two young travellers part ways with him before the situation gets out of hand.

Hemingway’s boy traveller Nick finds himself in an environment of outcasts when he is thrown out of a train for fare evasion. He meets a strangely mutilated and misshaped man, who claims of himself to be “crazy” (Hemingway 61) and who’s name is “Ad Francis” (Hemingway 61). Shortly after this first encounter a friend of Ad, Bugs, joins the two. When Ad, who is introduced as being a former price boxer, suddenly falls in a rage due to no apparent reason, except the denial of his demand to borrow the young boy’s knife, he tries to attack Nick, but is held back by the quick aid of Bugs. The boy is advised by to leave them while Ad is still unconscious, thus the situation is cleared before a further escalation can occur.

What these two short stories have in common in regards to their overall topic is the presentation of an underlying violence that one can collide with without foreseeing it. The image of a young boy who is confronted with a mentally abnormal man plays on the seemingly clear-cut contrast between innocence and perversion, though this simple scheme cannot be upheld when the young boys show first aspects of minor disorder themselves (cf. Joyce 28). In the end, a circular development comes to mind, meaning that the aggression that already shapes portions of everyday life will be handed on to the next generation of men, who, in themselves, are a predestined raw material to be shaped by the anger that they have had to withstand during their youth and adolescence.

Two stories that deal exclusively with the lifestyles of two people are “Clay” by James Joyce and both parts of “Big Two-Hearted River” by Ernest Hemingway. The first narrative is concerned with the life of Maria, a former foster mother, who now works at a local laundry. She is presented as being slightly introvert and child-like in her emotional expressions, but the way she goes about her life makes her feel contented and at peace. The social contacts she occasionally renews fill her with enthusiasm and deep happiness, as she is clearly connected to the family of her former foster child Joe through a close personal bond. Her entire daily routine in preparation of the one evening of social interchange becomes joyfully dominated with anticipation of this very special, as she expects it, occasion.

Hemingway once more bases the two days of his story, which in itself is subdivided into two parts, on the events of an outdoor fishing and camping trip. His protagonist Nick builds up his camp after a hike to a river in order to spend the next day fly fishing for trout. The reader is able to follow all the essential steps of this fishing trip, from packing a bag over setting up the camp site, collecting bait and preparing diner to finally fishing and preparing the caught trout for cooking. The detail in which these processes are being depicted and explained present the joy and devotion that Nick connects with this pass-time.

The two very simple story lines that are unfolded here show the authors from a slightly different angle. This time, they give two single characters the chance to fully unfurl and live out their seemingly favourite moments in life, as contrary they may seem. Maria, shy and peaceful in her attitude, feels protected and loved while she is surrounded by people who are familiar to her and who tread her with loving care. In contrast, Nick’s solitude in the woods fades out all other impressions in him. The audience never learns anything about him that goes beyond this particular topic of camping and miscellaneous issues that are closely connected with it.

Hemingway and Joyce prove, not only with the two tales last mentioned, that the liveliness and completeness of their characters plays a major role in their writing. Their forms of building up a plot upon an elaborate topic and corresponding characters who are rich in a psychological sense contribute to the completeness of their short stories likewise. In that context, the protagonists unite in themselves a wide range of positive human ideals, be it the eagerness of Maria (cf. “Clay”, Joyce 113ff), the self-security of Mrs. Kearney (cf. “A Mother”, Joyce 153ff), the strength of will of Joe Butler’s father (cf. “My Old Man”, Hemingway 103f) or the artistic nature of Harry (cf. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, Hemingway 8). The downside of the human nature is seen in the addictive tendencies of Jim (cf. “Up in Michigan”, Hemingway 27f), the weakness of character in Corley and Lenehan (cf. “Two Gallants”, Joyce 53ff), severe social incompetence in George (cf. “Cat in the Rain”, Hemingway 86ff) or the brutality of Farrington (cf. “Counterparts”, Joyce 108f). However, Hemingway’s and Joyce’s actors never lack depth, thus helping in catching the readers’ attention and keeping hold of it.

2.3. The Role of Language

Choosing a suitable tone for the effect that a story aims at demands a skilled and empathic author who must equip his characters with the right vocabulary and grammar, letting them phrase their statements in an appropriate manner. Moreover, the writer himself is bound to select an adequate imagery to aptly convey the atmosphere pertaining to the current plot. As the artist’s selected language style is the foremost interface that enables the readers to access the story, making the right choice may well be the most essential factor in effective short story writing.

The narrative voice occasionally reflects the structural composition of a character’s mind and the processes it initiates. “Up in Michigan” by Hemingway deals with the still very naïve girl Liz and her awaking emotional self-awareness. Repetitive and simple statements (“Liz liked Jim very much. She liked it the way he walked over from the shop [. . .]. She liked it about his moustache. She liked it about how white [. . .]. She liked it very much that he [. . .]. She liked it how much D. J. Smith and Mrs Smith liked Jim.” Hemingway 25) take up this idea and reflect it on the textual and rhetoric fields of writing. At the end of the same story, Hemingway underlines the tragedy of the moment and the certainty that “everything felt gone” (Hemingway 29) after the rape by the image of “a cold mist [that] was coming up through the woods from the bay” (Hemingway 29). Atmosphere and the characters’ disposition, thus, are condensed by the appropriate application of language.

Joyce shows a comparable approach of the utilisation of language in “Clay”, when he depicts a short insight into the life of Maria, who is paying a Hallow Eve visit to her former foster child Joe (cf. Joyce 111) and his family. She, in turn, must be described as infantile concerning the development of her social and emotional worlds of experience. This claim finds support in Joyce’s decision to talk of Maria’s “disappointed shyness” (Joyce 112) and her being “coloured with shame and vexation and disappointment” (Joyce 115) when she realizes that she has forgotten the cake she had bought for a present. In addition, when being asked to sing a song, she starts “blushing very much” (Joyce 118) and “began to sing in a tiny quavering voice” (Joyce 118). Maria’s character gains a rather well-structured image, which is, on the level of emphatic composition even enforced by the quick pace of the author’s sentence structure (cf. the use of the conjuction “but”, e.g. Joyce 116).

The linguistic achievement of Joyce and Hemingway is equally represented through the methods of their literary creation of atmosphere. Exemplary short stories have been taken into account earlier to sum up the techniques that lead to an appropriate tone for the individual narrative in question. A very drastic case of atmospheric writing is presented in Hemingway’s “Indian Camp”, a short narrative that illustrates the work of a doctor, his brother and his son, who are called to an Indian camp in order to help a woman who “had been trying to have her baby for two days” (Hemingway 33). The gloomy image that the writer conjures up by describing the “dark” (Hemingway 33) and “cold” (Hemingway 32) night is rounded by mentioning “mist” (Hemingway 32) and the screams of pain, uttered by the woman in labour (cf. Hemingway 33). Further descriptive phrases like “the room smelled very bad” (Hemingway 33) or “he was looking away so as not to see what his father was doing” (Hemingway 34) entangle the readers’ imagination even more in the terrifying world thus created. In contrast, Hemingway is also able to produce a serene environment, as is visual in “Big Two-Hearted River”. He depicts a stream that “stretched away pebbly-bottomed with shallows and big boulders and a deep pool as it curved away around the foot of a bluff” (Hemingway 117). In addition, the ongoing action can be re-lived in great detail, for example the preparation of the protagonist’s outdoor breakfast (cf. Hemingway 128). Hemingway shows a profound knowledge of the correct and effective use of detailed explanation where it seems necessary for a story to work and on the art of omitting too much information that would clog the flow of a tense story line.

Joyce’s methods of applying language to character and atmosphere development can also be clearly traced. Counterparts”, for instance, gives insight into the unbalanced life of Farrington, who, during daytime, works as a scrivener and is constantly maltreated by his superior (cf. Joyce 95ff). Small successes like him finding “a felicitous moment” (Joyce 101) in his arguments with Mr. Alleyne are much celebrated and bring with them a boost in Farrington’s self-security. The evening that is described to follow shows fragments of success, but also of loss. The emotional remainder in Farrington’s psyche can be classified as frustration, which is, in the end, taken out on his own family, as is portrayed by him cruelly beating his child at the story’s close. Joyce’s language, in this case, precisely sketches a characterisation of Farrington’s disposition, for example by telling that “he came out of the pawn-office joyfully, making a little cylinder of the coins between his thumb and fingers” (Joyce 103). Through rather small and casual mannerisms, the author fills his character with a comprehensible kind of life.

To see Joyce weaving a net of atmospheric language, one can, for instance, analyse its implementation in “Two Gallants”. The beginning already contains a elaborate description of the atmosphere that the plot is embedded in: “The grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city, and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets.” (Joyce 52). Through this particular way of initiating an environment that is filled with a specific feel, a corresponding glamour is distributed among the participating characters, the scenery and the story line likewise. Strewn in details like “a cut ham was exposed on a great blue dish, while near it on a plate lay a segment of very light plum-pudding” (Joyce 61) condense the realism of the depicted scene and make it easier to imagine.

Throughout, Joyce and Hemingway both manage to select fitting and appropriate linguistic images to enrich their short stories and the issues that are discussed. The differences in the social or physical environment, that can be pinpointed in a large number of short stories when comparing the works of both authors, of course lead to necessary differences in the language that comes to play. While Joyce sets his (linguistic) focus rather in a solid middle class, with small mavericks in both directions, Hemingway’s characters often make use of a more confrontational and aggressive type of language, which is mirrored by the methods of the writer applying language himself. Nonetheless, the works of both authors are plausible and authentic from a socio-linguistic point of view, with the language that is implemented never standing in contrast to the effect that the story needs to evoke.

3. Setting and Scenery

Concerning setting, Joyce, almost necessarily, has decided to select the eponym of his short story collection as a background for the tales that he unfolds. His attempt to capture the essence of his view on the city of Dublin is conducted with a passion for small, but significant details, that let his understanding of the location, the people and the circumstances of existence come to life. Although the scenery, in a wider sense, does not significantly change throughout the fifteen stories that have found their place in Dubliners, the different plot lines each demand an alternative approach to the dominant setting that is provided by the idea of incorporating the entire collection into one single location. Thus, the author gives credit and brings into play all sorts of aspects that he connects with the Dublin he knows, loves and sometimes seems to loathe, which is reflected in “his rebuke of Irish provincialism” (Cucullu 130).

There are the hope and pleasant feelings that the protagonist in “Araby” connects with the bazaar and the shattering of these emotions, once he finally arrives there, just to find out that “nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness” (Joyce 35). The description of his surroundings immediately cause an acute sense for the sentimental collapse of the main character’s aspirations. Quite the opposite result is achieved when Joyce tells of Maria in “Clay”. The evening she intends to spend at her former foster child’s home is initiated by mentioning that “all the children had their Sunday dresses on [. . .] and [that] games were going on” (Joyce 114). This impression of cosiness is aggravated through alluding to “sit[ting] down by the fire” (Joyce 115).

Hemingway’s selection of short stories is not thematically interrelated as much as Joyce’s collection, which means that their scenic and contextual factors tend to diverge more to begin with. Whereas Joyce bases the fates of his actors at least on a mutual cultural background, Hemingway negates this proceeding through attaching them each to a different environment. This step offers the readers more liberty in analysing the connections between location of plot and attitude of character, as the audience of Joyce’s work must accept that this aspect of literary studies must be neglected to some extent in Dubliners. Ernest Hemingway settles his protagonist in places that cannot be classified in a comprehensive categorisation, neither in respect to geographical or environmental preconditions, nor when thinking in terms of sociological or political structures. The range of the author’s portrayed locations stretch from Mount Kilimanjaro, “as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun” (Hemingway 23), over small-town surroundings of “Oklahoma” (Hemingway 71) to “the far blue hills that marked the Lake Superior” (Hemingway 118) and their encasing natural serenity. Of particular interest for Hemingway seems to be the country of Italy, as several of his short stories play in or allude to this location (“A Very Short Story”, “The Revolutionist”, “Cat in the Rain”, “Out of Season”, “My Old Man”). The mixture of secluded and very solitary scenic foundations on one hand and the busy turbulence of towns and cities on the other is what gives a collection of Hemingway’s short stories, like the one presented in this case, its scope concerning localised imagery and its diversity in respect to the topics that may be addressed.

To compare The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Dubliners in terms of scenery proves to be rather difficult, due to Joyce’s self-inflicted limitation to one single location, but he still manages to arrange his narratives thus, that a vast number of facets of this unitary location are highlighted. It’s with this skill, that Joyce’s qualities in respect of atmospheric writing and of depicting his view on the world becomes observable.

Ernest Hemingway often appears to be fascinated by centring his stories either in an environment of seclusion or in an environment that somehow crosses the boundaries of cultural linearity. His settings resemble notions of adventure and autonomy, always emphasising the importance of the individual within its surroundings. Adventurous endeavours are often depicted in a positive light when they stand in relation to spending time outdoors and in the wild, preferably hunting, fishing or in a sportive manner. In contrast, enterprises that are connected with roaming more civilised and crowded places, cities for example, continuously emanate a climate of stress and constant agitation, undermining the regenerative effects of cultural and social pastimes. It’s with solitude that, as it seems, Hemingway connects pure relaxation and rejuvenation.

4. The Authors’ Individual Influences

Although Hemingway and Joyce were contemporaries and, according to Reynolds, “friends” (15), drastic differences in the writers’ biographical backgrounds must be taken into consideration in respect of their stylistic and contextual literary output. “Ernest Hemingway grew up in the bosom of a well-known, extended and respected family” (Reynolds 17), hinting on a general atmosphere of protection within his closest social points of reference. Furthermore, “Hemingway’s birthplace, Oak Parks, Illinois, [. . .] was theoretically protected by city ordinances from uncensored movies, boxing matches, [. . .] all forms of gambling and prostitution and all consumption of alcohol” (Reynolds 16), which set very strict limits to the curiosity of an adolescent. Thus, “with plenty of parental and community rules, it was easy to be bad in Oak Park” (Reynolds 17) and an increased interest for the prohibited issues can be assumed.

James Joyce, in contrast, spent part of his childhood at “Clongowes Wood College, forty miles from Bray at Sallins, County Kildare” (Ellmann 27). This Jesuit boarding school meant the immediate separation from his family at the age of “’Half past six’” (Ellmann 27), as Joyce himself put it. With the constant observation through “his Jesuit masters” (Ellmann 27) and him being “a well-behaved, slim little boy” (Ellmann 26), in opposition to the “rough boys” (Ellmann 27) that his mother warned him about, Joyce led a rather restricted existence. Therefore, Ellmann argues “that a boy of his age, suddenly removed from his family, could have been untroubled is hardly conceivable” (27).

These early stages of the authors’ lives already hint on the psychological origin of several issues that are later being discussed in their works. Hemingway’s desire for excessive living, which for him includes drinking, fighting and other activities that are connoted with a stereotypically masculine attitude, may well be rooted in the absence of these aspects in his childhood days. The lack of a balanced moral calibration during his upbringing, which included at least the contact with said activities, may have caused a mental reorientation and an extraordinary fascination for the sinister forces within the human mind. In turn, Joyce often brings up the topic of religion, which also finds its counterpart mirrored in his childhood development. His critical approach towards faith may be the result of an extensive indoctrination during his time with the Jesuit instructors, which was already visible in the fact that “he rejected their teaching” (Ellmann 27) and developed an overall critical attitude.

Having “joined the Missouri Home Guard, which was eventually called to active duty” (Reynolds 23), Hemingway had “to experience the Great European War” (Reynolds 22f). This time of his life can be seen as one of the sources for the constant implementation of short narrative paragraphs at the beginnings of his short stories (cf. Hemingway 32; 42; 47; 58; 68; 71). The ideas of fighting and shooting reoccur throughout his texts, signalising that the events Hemingway has witnessed have left a lasting impression on his mental constitution. A serious leg injury that Hemingway received when he “was blown up by an Austrian trench mortar” (Reynolds 23) resembles Harry’s leg wound in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, thus personal experiences and fictional conversion tend to be interrelated.

Joyce, having been born 17 years before Hemingway, was spared the duty to go to war. The early years of his adulthood were shaped by his studies of English literature (cf. Ellmann 58), giving Joyce the advantage of his “wide reading” (Ellmann 58). As a result, Dubliners contains no allusion to an armed conflict and almost exclusively confines itself to the matter of social and linguistic conflicts. When Joyce finally took the opportunity to leave Dublin in 1904, he and his companion Nora Barnacle could afford to go “as far as Paris, but not farther” (Ellmann 179). Ellmann, moreover, draws a comparison between their departure and one of Joyce’s short stories, when he writes that “Joyce went on the boat first, and the possibility that Nora might change her mind at the last moment, like the girl of his story ‘Eveline,’ must have been in his thoughts, but Nora did not hesitate” (179).

The minds that created the short stories comprised in The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Dubliners are, in themselves, the result of personal experiences and individual development. A writer’s personality, thus, must always be taken into consideration when an analytical appraisal of a fictional text is aspired. Turbulent and exciting ways of existence, like the two presented here, carry an even greater potential to influence the author’s output, which undoubtedly was the case in the literary achievements of Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.

5. Conclusion

With their work, Joyce and Hemingway have delivered a crucial contribution to early 20th century literature, not only in the field of modernism, but in the genre of fictional writing as a whole. Their drastic, yet sometimes very subtle methods of assembling captivating and fascinating stories have broadened the view of many writers that were to follow in their footsteps. Psychological and sociological issues have proven to be the main fields of interest for the both of them, although the individual modes of converting these issues into a particular narrative may diverge to a large extent.

Social relations in Hemingway’s stories are constantly filled with an air of mutual indifference, longing or anger. However, he always accomplishes to attach a fitting outline to the emotions he accredits to his protagonists, thereby bringing into being very lively characters that follow plot lines which vary from pure melancholy to a rush of ecstasy. The turbulence in his own life, which includes going to war and being wounded, has certainly shaped Hemingway’s mode of writing. In addition, the general US-American mentality of that time was widely influenced by notions of self-sufficiency and exerting power on foreign territory. These ideas also find their counterparts in a number of the short stories represented in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, especially in cross-gender interaction. For James Joyce, whose short stories often lack the international flair of Hemingway’s narratives, the center of attention undoubtedly rests with the social problems that his protagonists have to cope with, whether they realize them or not. Joyce’s religious upbringing and his rebellious reaction are reflected in the unsatisfied desires of the characters he creates, and in their inability to alter their situations of discontent. Overall, Joyce does not depict his self-limitation in regard to location and setting as a counter-productive measure, but as a chance to go into closer detail concerning emotional character development in respect of a geographically and ethnically closely defined group of people (cf. Norburn 200: “The Structure of Dubliners and Order of the Stories”).

Whether the drastic language of Hemingway or the subtle melancholy of Joyce has the bigger potential of forcing readers to feel sympathy or antipathy for either author’s characters remains a question of personal tastes. However, both writers have excelled in their task as creators of fictional literature to fascinate and entertain their audience. Through their artistic decision to let their characters express themselves in ways that were once unthinkable on the levels of sentimental and cognitive understanding, they have achieved to make a large contribution in the progress of short story writing and of the entire genre of literary work.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

London: Arrow Books, 2004.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Penguin Popular Classics.

London: Penguin Books, 1996.

Berman, Ronald. Modernity and Progress: Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Orwell.

Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2005.

Comley, Nancy R. , Scholes, Robert. “Reading ‘Up in Michigan’”. New Essays on Hemingway’s Short Fiction. Ed. Paul Smith.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 19-45.

Cucullu, Lois. Expert Modernists, Matricide, and Modern Culture: Woolf, Forster, Joyce.

Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. Revised Edition.

New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Norburn, Roger. A James Joyce Chronology.

Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Prominent Palin Productions Ltd. “Horton Bay, Michigan”.

Palin’s Travels. Hemingway Adventure. 14.09.2008.


Reynolds, Michael. “Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961: A Brief Biography”.

A Historical Guide to Ernest Hemingway. Ed.Linda Wagner-Martin.

New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 15-50.

Wilson, Leigh. Modernism. Introductions to British Literature and Culture.

London: Continuum Books, 2007.

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