Comparing Ernest Hemingway And Ernest Gaines A Lesson Before Dying
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This study brings together two writers who are usually not thought of in the same context. Hemingway is typically discussed under the mantle of modernism and ranks as one of the great American short story writers and novelists, whereas Ernest Gaines is usually discussed under the category of African American and/or Southern literature. It is my purpose to demonstrate how the two writers can be read and taught together, as they are linked by many common themes and stylistic elements. However, their differences are even more instructive in that they allow the reader to compare and contrast the two traditions they represent.
The father-son theme both exemplifies the connection and difference between the two authors. Many of Hemingway’s protagonists…show more content… Charlie’s sacrifice in A Gathering of Old Men changes the entire community, white and black, as does Jefferson’s heroic “standing” for the execution in A Lesson Before Dying. Jefferson’s diary assumes a central place in Gaines’s works, as it sums up his belief in the interdependence of the individual and the community and speaks the words of love and support that will serve as a powerful script for the community’s future. Thus, unlike Hemingway’s works, which emphasize an allegiance to the self, Gaines’s stories and novels illustrate the self’s responsibility to…show more content… Did not Hemingway in writing about his various exploits— as a wounded war hero, as a skilled hunter, as an expert fisherman—“fashion and compose” himself so often that “the model itself has to some extent grown firm and taken shape,” as it has in Montaigne’s case (504)? Was he not afterwards trying to live up to the myths that he created with the thinly-disguised self-portrayals in his works? Are not the agonizing and sorrowful thoughts of Nick Adams in “Fathers and Sons” the writer’s own with regard to his alienation from his father and his sons? These questions seem to be bound up with the pervasive emphasis on the self and the cyclical view of life that we see manifested in Hemingway’s work and life. Hemingway’s writings are an “involuted and reflexive exercise,” as the writer constantly looks inward, toward his own self (Olney, “Value” 53). Whereas Hemingway’s writings are firmly situated in the Western tradition of autoautography, Ernest Gaines’s works can be seen as representing a more African notion of autobiography. Referring to the