The Importance of Reading Ernest discussion

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Short Happy...Francis Macomber > Cowardice *spoilers*

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message 1: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Obviously we can't talk about Macomber without discussing cowardice. So what do you make of the way Hemingway presents cowardice in the story? What do you make of the way Hemingway's characters deal with cowardice? How important is bravery in your own life?


message 2: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) Before I read the story, I first wanted to see how the world defined 'cowardice' and was interested by the fact that all references pointed to fear of danger or pain. To me, cowardice is something a little more complex than that, and definitely full of gray areas.

I believe you can have fear, yet not be a coward. After all, isn't the only thing we should fear is fear itself? Danger and pain also have many layers. So I tried to keep that in mind while reading the story.

To be blunt, it was a pleasure to read that Hemingway portrayed cowardice in its multi layers.

I would say that throughout the short story, every character experiences fear, danger and pain, and I believe that all but one is a coward.

Wilson is a coward in that he hides from the illegality of him hunting using cars. Macomber clearlly is a coward when it came to taking down the lion (walk away?) as well as allowing his wife's infidelities (more like a coward to his self respect). Margot is a coward for not being able to wakj awat from her failed marriage, and instead turns to affairs and the eventual killing of her husband.

Which leads me to the one character that isnn't a coward: the lion. In my opinion, the lion was the only character worth knowing. But then I guess that somewhat makes me a hypocrite, since Margot, Macomber and Wilson were really, just being human.

I find Bravery is definitely a redeemable quality, but I think its still honorable to show fear as well. It's just what you do with that fear. I think someone with immense character can take that fear (whether they do it knowingly or not)and move forward with it. Those who don't, whether we brand them as cowards or not, are only cowards if they live with regret afterward.

How's that to get the discussion rolling. I'm sure once others start putting in their two cents, we'll have a whopper of a discussion.

Thanks for starting this up Brad!


message 3: by Brad (last edited Dec 29, 2008 04:45PM) (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
I've got lots more to say than this, but I will start with what you said about the lion. I can see what you are saying about the lion being the only one who isn't a coward, but then I am sure that the Hemingway was always closer to the animals he killed than the humans he knew. He certainly respected the animals for their "purity of spirit."


message 4: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 21 comments First impression was that it was well written. Main story was almost novel in its elements which were certainly stronger in giving impression of modern hunters, of the wife having her own impressions of her husband as being dissatisfied, Wilson being a super-man of men or hunters and regarding these elements we still see Macomber as a unwilling hunter and a kind of wimpy first timer shooting his gun and a possible coward.


message 5: by Brad (last edited Dec 29, 2008 04:48PM) (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Arthur wrote: "First impression was that it was well written. Main story was almost novel in its elements..."

I've always felt that was one of the great strengths of Hemingway's short stories -- and probably why he is considered a master of the form -- his ability to tell a complete story in little space is unsurpassed. I always feel like I've read the whole tale. Rarely is anything else is ever needed.




message 6: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) Brad wrote: "Arthur wrote: "First impression was that it was well written. Main story was almost novel in its elements..."

I've always felt that was one of the great strengths of Hemingway's short stories -- a..."


One thing I noticed as well, is that he doesn't need to give us every single detail, and onlly the important ones, yet can still tell the whole story. There are times when it reads like a script and all you are given is dialogue, and you don't get the unecessary text describing the heat or the jungle. We all know what Africa looks like, so Hemingway doesn't bother talking about it. He gives us the benefit of the doubt and treats us as intelligent readers, and you just have to respect that!



message 7: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Having sat on it for a while now, I am not so sure anyone in the story is a coward (any more or less than anyone else in the world). Francis and Margot both commit cowardly acts, and Wilson is occasionally cowardly in his silence, but they also show moments of pretty impressive bravery too. This goes back again to a theme I expect to see much discussion about over the life of this group: the depth of characters. Hemingway absolutely refuses to make his characters easy. I can't think of a single character in any story of Hemingway's I've ever read (and I have read everything but True at First Light) who is black or white, nor even black and white, every character is a shade of gray. So in terms of Macomber, I can see some cowardice, but there is so much bravery too.


message 8: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) i need to read this story again. now that we're discussing it, its like i need to dissect it more.

dear lord...and this is just a short...not a novel!


message 9: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
You know, I think that short stories provide more room for discussion than novels in book clubs and groups like this. Unless I am in a classroom setting where there is a couple of weeks set aside for a novel and specific themes can be hit during each class, there seems to be a tendency to just give general feelings about novels, thereby avoiding any kind of close reading or debate. Short stories are so focused, so tight, that generalities can't get you anywhere, so we all tend to dig deeper right off the bat. Maybe that's why I love the short story form so much.

But, speaking of novels, maybe we should throw in a Hemingway novel sometime (a long time from now), but something to expand our reading of him further.

And then we could start a Faulkner group, and then we could start a...


message 10: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) ha ha - sounds great!


message 11: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 21 comments I must confess I wouldn't mind reading a novel...


message 12: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Arthur wrote: "I must confess I wouldn't mind reading a novel..."

Me too, but I think we should really get into the swing of the short stories before we throw in a novel. We'll do it someday, though.



message 13: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 21 comments Don't let my prompting deter you, I'm all for the short story.


message 14: by Gary (new)

Gary | 400 comments Mod
oh, faulkner is wonderful. an entirely different writer then hemingway. did you know they despised each other??? would make rude comments about each others works,and yet one of hemingway's most favorite movie adaptations of his novels was TO HAVE AND TO HAVE NOT , which the screenplay was written, by guess who?? william faulkner! i have actually held the original typed copy of the screenplay. i had to wear protective gloves,and it's in a collection of faulkner works , here in missouri. Dr. Robert Hamblin is the curator of the collection. He's a personal friend of mine. The room is full of books,and other faulkner treasures. it's a great place to visit. i think part of the reason hemingway liked the movie TO HAVE AND TO HAVE NOT, was lauren bacall, to be honest, and bogie!!



message 15: by Gary (new)

Gary | 400 comments Mod
I have a suggestion of which novel to start with . wanna hear it? and why?


message 16: by Gary (new)

Gary | 400 comments Mod
i agree that hemingway's characters are very multifaceted. that's for damn sure. that's what makes him so dynamic,and very interesting to read. people that haven't really read him,and looked deeper then the literal meaning have no idea how complex hemingway,and his characters are! you gotta dig a little bit , folks. dig deeper. he's such a cool , dude, i mean really!


message 17: by Gary (new)

Gary | 400 comments Mod
I just printed off the "francis" story for a friend, because it is one of my favorites. i remember the very first time i read it,and how shocked i was by the ending. i swear, i couldn't sleep that night. i mean, i am married!! i was like looking over my shoulder for a couple days. and thank god, we own no guns,and we don't hunt, eh? ha! ha! i do think margot is looking for some excitement in the beds of other men, including wilson. it makes you wonder if they both discussed how they would murder francis, or did margot make that decision on her own? was it premeditated, or an accident , to look like an accident. did she work on her own, or was wilson directly involved. i mean, being a short story , lots of those details are left out, but things are implied, aren't they? look at the way wilson and margot talked at the end, nonchalant, like it was no big deal this happened,and yet isn't margot feeling some guilt by telling wilson to "stop it" to shut up????


message 18: by Gary (new)

Gary | 400 comments Mod
it's like hemingway is allowing his audience to make lots of inferences,and which inferences are correct? which are not? that's what makes his stories so fantastic to read, you know???


message 19: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Gary wrote: "oh, faulkner is wonderful. an entirely different writer then hemingway. did you know they despised each other??? would make rude comments about each others works,and yet one of hemingway's most fav..." Yeah, I think that is kind of a fun fact. They were both utterly brilliant. I don't think they could possibly have liked each other. It was impossible. They were both so damn important to literature, and they knew it, and they knew that they were really the only competition the other had -- even though they were so different.



message 20: by Gary (new)

Gary | 400 comments Mod
well, spoken!! so, you're a fan of faulkner's too? wow! we should meet someday! we'd have a lot to talk about!


message 21: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
I actually wrote a companion short story to A Rose for Emily.


message 22: by Gary (new)

Gary | 400 comments Mod
really? i'd like to read it. i really like A ROSE FOR EMILY. i want to read it to my bookclub sometime at our halloween party!


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