TheLife and Writing of Ernest Hemingway



Inliterary, numerous authors of novels write about things they dreamabout. A majority write about stories they have heard from otherauthors. However, none have written about such traumatic and vividexperiences in life as Hemingway has, especially during World War I.As a result, this paper examines Hemingway’s life and writings thatmade his life a legacy that is still presently celebrated.

Keywords:Hemingway, novels, stories, authors, World War I.

TheLife and Writing of Ernest Hemingway

Thelife of every individual ends in a similar way. It is only thedetails of how he died and how he lived that differentiates oneindividual from another (Jobson, 2014). One individual whodifferentiates himself from other individual is Ernest Hemingway. Inliterary works and novels, a majority of authors write about thingsthey dream about. A majority write about stories they have heard fromother individuals. None have written about such traumatic and vividexperiences in life as Hemingway. As such, this paper examinesHemingway’s life and writings that made his life a legacy that isstill celebrated today.

ErnestHemingway’s Life

InOak Park, Illinois, Ernest Hemingway was born to Dr. Clarence andGrace Hemingway (Bloom, 2009). As he grew, he started to have bitterfeelings towards his parents, especially his mother, who he saw asmagisterial and selfish. When he was in his teens, he took aninterest in literature. He wrote stories and poems for the schoolmagazine. After graduating in 1917, he started writing featurestories as a junior reporter for the Kansas City Star. The Startaught him writing skills, such as clarity, short paragraphs, andsentences. As he puts it, “Those were the best rules I ever learnedfor the business of writing. I’ve never forgotten them”(Oakes,2004).

Atthe same time, World War I was raging in Europe and he wanted toenlist and serve, but his eyesight prevented him from doing so.Rather, he became an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Italy.However, he was badly wounded in both legs while carrying an Italiansoldier to safety. While in the hospital recuperating from his wound,he fell in love with a nurse called Agnes von Kurowsky. The nurseleft him citing that she was too old for him. He returned to Oak Parkto write about his teenage and wartime years. He married first of hisfour wives, Hadley Richardson in 1921. The happy couple moved toParis where he wrote some of his best novels.

ErnestHemingway’s Writings

Hemingwaywas considered a major force in literature, especially when he wrote“The Old Man and the Sea” (Hemingway, 1952). This novel is theone that compares to his life experiences. In the novel, the maincharacter is called Santiago, who is a strong willed man that lovesfishing just as Hemingway. Santiago represents Hemingway’s strongwill, in that he survived World War I and three marriages. Santiagois a skilled person who is able to fight the fish that he caught. Thefish, also known as Tiburonis used as a metaphor that representsHemingway’s love life that consists of many wives, divorces, andthe demise of one wife. In one instance, Santiago turns to God forassistance saying, “I am not religious…I will say Ten Hail Marythat I should catch this fish” (Hemingway, 1952). Since Hemingway’slove life is full of distress, especially after the death of his wifeand subsequent divorces, he recites The Ten Hail Mary to make surethat God helps him to get his love life under control.

Inthe novel, Santiago travels to many places on the ocean. Thisrepresents Hemingway’s passion for traveling in countries, such asItaly, Africa, and Cuba. In his travels, he settles in Cuba where thenovel “The Old Man and the Sea” take place. In Cuba, peoplestruggle in poverty to survive because of the dictatorship rule. Thestruggle Santiago has with catching the fish, also called a Tiburonis paralleled with the struggles of growing up in Cuba. This isclearly shown when Santiago struggles to catch the fish saying, “Hecan’t have gone…He’s making a turn. Maybe he has been hookedbefore”(Hemingway, 1952). This shows that Santiago wants to catchthe fish in order to get food for survival. Thus, Hemingway likensSantiago’s life with his in a way that the fish represents hisproblematic love life full of divorces that he wants to catch and putunder his control.

Inaddition to the above novel, Hemingway also wrote about his wartimeexperience with the publication of the novel “A Farewell to Arms”(Hemingway, 1929). In this novel, Hemingway compares his life withthat of Fredrick Henry by focusing on the themes of loss and love inwar. On the theme of loss, Henry talks about the war with Catherinesaying, “Not in this war…It seemed more dangerous…than war inthe movies” (Hemingway, 1929). He laments about the loss that warcauses to people, such as leaving them alone. Catherine understandsthat war is real because she lost her fiancé. Similarly, afterHemingway got badly wounded in both legs while carrying an Italiansoldier to safety, he met Agnes von Kurowsky, who later left him. Onthe theme of love, both ended up with the woman they loved eventhough Hemingway went through a number of divorces.

MyPerspective on Ernest Hemingway’s Writings

Asshown above, I think the writings of Hemingway from his two novels“The Old Man and the Sea”, and “A Farewell to Arms” representhis life of loss and love. The themes of loss and love are wellhighlighted and explained. In one example, Santiago, who representsHemingway in the novel “The Old Man and the Sea”, turns to Godfor assistance to catch a fish. The fish represents his troubled lovelife that has seen him experience a loss of a wife. In anotherexample, Henry, who represents Hemingway in the novel “A Farewellto Arms”, turns to Catherine for love after he experienced peoplelosing their loved ones in war. Therefore, Hemingway’s life sincehis childhood and from these two books has been that of loss andlove. His first loss was Agnes von Kurowsky. Kurowsky left himbecause she was older than him. His second loss was the death of hisfirst wife that he had loved very much. However, I think thatHemingway has been able to portray the tragedy of war during his erain these two books by focusing on the themes of loss and love


AlthoughHemingway committed suicide in Ketchum, Idaho, he is still one of thebest novel writers who portrayed the theme of loss and love duringWorld War I. In his two books “The Old Man and the Sea”, and “AFarewell to Arms” that represent his life, he was able to show thatwar consists of both love and tragedy. His experience in war andeventual marriage to four women shows love, while the death of hiswife shows tragedy. Thus, Hemingway will be remembered for hiscontribution to writing during World War I.


Bloom,H. (2009). ErnestHemingway.New York City: InfoBase Publishing.

Hemingway,E. (1929). Afarewell to arms.New York: Scribner Classics.

Hemingway,E. (1952). Theold man and the sea.New York: Scribner.

Jobson,C. (2014). Changingchapters.Bloomington: Balboa Press.

Oakes,E. (2004). Americanwriters.New York City: InfoBase Publishing.