Ernest Hemingway/Young and Innocent

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III. Hemingway up Close and Personal

Hemingway's suicide was not that surprising after all. During all his life he was obsessed with death and, in a way, also with violence. Nevertheless, when his father committed suicide, he strongly condemned this deed as a violation both of what Harvey Breit called Hemingway's "categorical imperative"(Times 1961 (15.), p. 6) courage and his Catholic faith. Why, and when, did the change in mind take place? What were the reasons for his ever-growing inclination to killing and especially to killing himself?

1.Young and Innocent

Oak Park produced a tall, handsome man, strong, smart and ambitious. He had already learned the art of hunting and therefore was no stranger to killing. He also enjoyed a good fight, boxing was one of his passions. His father's prestige as a physician helped him a lot in the small town, he learned about music and art and grew up in a protected, clean and safe neighborhood.

World War I showed him a different side of life, which did not, however, leave him entirely depressed and broken. His illusions were shattered, but the experiences gathered were invaluable, and, what's more, everything turned out to be all right in the end, the good ones won, his wounds healed completely and Agnes was a mere "Schwärmerei"(Burgess (9.); page 24). He even got decorated, returned as a hero and earned much fame and admiration back home. His luck was completed when he married Hadley Richardson who bore his first son.

Being a Artist in the "City of Light", as Paris still is called by some, he may have had a hard time from the financial point of view, but all in all the 'twenties were days of friendship, the financial and artistic struggle kept Hemingway fit.

next: /Things Turn Sour