The Importance of Reading Ernest discussion

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Up in Michigan > men vs. women

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message 1: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) we touched on this as a discussion with macomber, and we're seeing an underlying theme in how hemingway characterizes his male and female characters. why do you think hemingway writes his male characters to be macho men's men, and women to be either weak, or bitches?


message 2: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) i can't speak on behalf of a man's perspective since i'm not one, but i can comment that they way hemingway writes his characters feel real, but at the same time, seem hyperbolic. even though i think that jim acts as any man would today, he's painted as the uber man. i'm not sure how to describe it, but maybe with some discussion, i'll be able to find the words. he hunts, he's a blacksmith, he drinks (a lot) and takes what he wants. he clearly doesn't love liz, because i don't think any man who loved and respected a woman would do what he did to liz.

as for liz, i'm not sure what to make of her. at some point, i can understand that she is completely infatuated by jim, and loves the idea of him, but clearly she doesn't really know him. in this, i think that hemingway nails it right on target with how some women tend to idealize love and relationships. i think its also why women get into so much trouble. but liz too is hyperbolic in that she's everything about women that i don't think of as defining characteristics. again, not sure if i'm using the right words here.

i guess what i'm saying, in a nutshell, is that hemingway likes to paing his men and women as realistic beings, but personified to the point where you can either love or detest them. and me, i detest the both of these characters. but here is where hemingway is brilliant. he makes me feel very intensely about his characters...


message 3: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Gio wrote: "he clearly doesn't love liz, because i don't think any man who loved and respected a woman would do what he did to liz."

There's many other points to talk about in your big post, Gio, but this is the one that is striking me right now. I don't think it is clear that he doesn't love Liz. In fact, I think it is entirely possible that he does love Liz, but since the story is from Liz's perspective we can't be certain. For one thing, we're not talking about a man who is just passing through. He lives there, he works there, even drunk it would be a hell of a mistake to have sex with Liz during that time in such a small town without some feelings for her.




message 4: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Gio wrote: "even though i think that jim acts as any man would today, he's painted as the uber man. i'm not sure how to describe it, but maybe with some discussion, i'll be able to find the words. he hunts, he's a blacksmith, he drinks (a lot) and takes what he wants."

I was thinking about this much more today, and I think I have a possible answer that is linked to your post about "time and place." The whole uberman, macho man's man, is something that seems hyperbolic today because for a man to be those things is mostly a put on. But in Hemingway's day, particularly when he first started writing and his experience to that point, say between 1899-1925-ish, those men were not cliches. There were still wild enough places that blacksmiths were needed. Folks were still hunting for food on a regular basis and sport hunting was the sphere of the rich rather than the sphere of the trailer park. Clearly there is something inherently "macho" about these manly pursuits, and even then it would have defined working men, but it would not have been as foreign then as it seems to be today.

I think our time and place, and particularly the way men and women act and interact now, make his characters seem hyperbolic but real at the same time.


message 5: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Wow...a quiet discussion this week.

I have been reflecting more on Liz and Jim, and I really like both characters. Her more than him, even though they both have an element of the pathetic in them. But I really think we all have that element to some degree.

I really felt Liz aching to love Jim and be loved by him, and I felt her ache when her dreams didn't play out the way she hoped they would. At the same time, I understood why Liz loved Jim, (as opposed to something like Twilight where I am still trying to figure out how Edward could ever love Bella or vice versa). This couple makes sense. They fit. And I am very much attracted to that.




message 6: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) i've been away on business, so that's why i'm quiet. but i have been reading the story again and again, and i keep waffling, changing my opinions. but i keep coming down to this:

i think what i hate about liz is that she's everything i don't want to see in women today. and maybe the same can be said about jim. he's everything in a man that i don't find redeemable. and i struggle to think about the time that hemingway wrote this. i keep forgetting that this was written in a time that was a lifetime ago.

its just that i look at this and see that for some men and women, things just havent changed.

its frustrating for me.


message 7: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Gio wrote: "its just that i look at this and see that for some men and women, things just havent changed.

its frustrating for me."


I totally understand that frustration. For sure. And it reminds me of something you said before about Hemingway making you feel, so that his story must be some kind of success for you.

Many people would just write an author or filmmaker off for making them feel if the characters are irredeemably (like people's reactions to Natural Born Killers all those years ago), but it is impressive to be able to do what you are doing and continue reading it and allow yourself to feel that frustration rather than just shutting off.



message 8: by Gio (new)

Gio (giobannaschlitz) i figure if something makes me feel so extremely, it must be doing its job...except for chasing harry winston. that was just complete shit


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