NORMATIVE VALUES IN ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S FICTION

JAMES BERNARD MULVEY, Marquette University

Abstract

Hemingway's corpus, usually subtle in technique and theme, reaffirms the Christian world view of its author, whose religious awareness encircles almost the entirety of his fictional career. Hemingway's Christian dimension has only been addressed, however, by a few articles and a couple of short monographs that observe his work from a Christian perspective. Hemingway's Christian themes draw their power from the descriptions of normative and anti-normative characters to suggest, rather than to publicize, the inherent Christian values of his fiction. On the whole, his work upholds Christian values revealed by normative Catholic characters. The presence of these Catholic norms unites his work, gives it continuity, and discloses the far-reaching concerns of his Christian vision that shapes almost every story and minor work and every novel. Hemingway's detachment from his characters and narrators implies the need for reform and the desire for normalcy, and his experimentations with characterization, point of view and irony function to expose the delusions, self-pity, pride, moral relativism, fatalism, and despair of modernism as depicted through his characters. By exploring a number of Hemingway's stories, Death in the Afternoon, and Green Hills of Africa, Chapter I emphasizes Hemingway's uses of primitive ritual and his presentation of these rituals in terms of Christian myth and ceremony. Chapter II concentrates upon Hemingway's stories that disclose the moral wreckage of individuals who negate selfless, passionate, and efficacious loving. Chapter III explores Jake Barnes' reaffirmation of his Catholicism in The Sun Also Rises. Chapter IV considers A Farewell to Arms and examines how Frederic Henry's moral confusion moves him to blame fate and not himself for many of his woes. Chapter V argues that To Have and Have Not, The Fifth Column, and For Whom the Bell Tolls transcend political ideologies by concentrating on the individual's conflicting responsibilities to self, to others, and to principles. Chapter VI explores Across the River and Into the Trees, Islands in the Stream, and The Old Man and the Sea and argues that Hemingway's eldest protagonists seek to recreate their Edenic pasts and come to terms with their essential selves. The Conclusion discusses A Moveable Feast and considers Hemingway's felix culpa theme. Hemingway treats Paris as the Eden that he lost but that he still can remember.

Recommended Citation

MULVEY, JAMES BERNARD, "NORMATIVE VALUES IN ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S FICTION" (1983). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8409281.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8409281

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