Storytelling Tips from Ernest Hemingway

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In society today, there are many different types of writing when it comes to storytelling. Storytelling is a very complex part of creating good short stories. Ernest Hemingway lived an eventful life which in return helped him be a successful writer. One reason Hemingway was such a good writer was because he had been around the world and seen many different aspects of life many people had not ever seen. Hemingway's work tends to be very deep in meaning but sometimes the meaning is not as noticeable as it is in some stories. In Hemingway's work, some including Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Killers, and Hills like White Elephants, he tends to lead the theme of the story in the direction of death or nothingness and includes heaps of symbolism to fulfill his message of the story.

Within the short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, there are many different points that Hemingway is trying to show his readers. Personally, this story is the most powerful with the different elements that the reader can use to take a meaning away from this story. Harry, a writer, and Helen, his wealthy wife, decided to go on a trip to Africa. There main goal was to step away from the lifestyle they had conformed to. While on this trip, Harry gets a cut which takes a turn for the worst and results in him fighting for his life by fighting a disease called gangrene. At this point in the story, Hemingway uses this to his advantage and makes Harry look as if he was on his death bed and now, he has time to sit and think about the things he had taken for granted: his wife's love and affection, wealth, experiences, writing abilities, talents. Harry blamed his writers block on living such an extravagant lifestyle and marrying such a wealthy woman. He went as far as saying that she was the one who ruined his writing skills. According to Kenneth G Johnston, The Snows of Kilimanjaro is concerned primarily with a dying writers attempt to explain, to rationalize, to evade full responsibility for his failure to fulfill his early promise as a writer (Johnston 223). Harry faced many problems on his adventure but facing the failure of not completing his writing goals in his life was a big issue for him. Throughout the story there are many times where symbolism is found and can be taken into many ways. In many pieces of research, the gangrene and the hyena both symbolize self-deterioration and death. At the very end of the story Harry passes away from the gangrene as the hyena lets out a human almost crying sound.

There are many interesting aspects that are shown throughout the story The Killers. The story starts off with two men, Al and Max, looking very innocent but then taking a turn for the worst. They make the manager, George, and one of the customers, Nick, tell them if anyone else is in the diner with them. They make everyone come out and then Al takes Nick and Sam back into the kitchen, with Max and George in the lobby. George asked Max why they were doing what they were doing when Max stated that him and his partner, Al, were here to kill Ole Anderson. Nick decided that he was going to inform Ole Anderson that there were gangsters in pursuit for him. In the book, Hemingway's Crafts by Sheldon N Grebstein, Grebstein states that Neither Ole Anderson nor William Campbell can outrun their pursuers any longer; they are exhausted. (Grebstein 21) Although Nick tried to inform him and get him to leave town, he did not seem to care that they were coming for him. Throughout the story, Nick showed bravery especially when he risked his own life to go inform Ole Anderson that his life was in danger. Ole Anderson also showed valor when he decided that he was not going to run and hide any longer.

Within the story, Hills like White Elephants there are heaps of irony and symbolism. For example, the landscape in the story is a symbol of the woman, Jig, and a very difficult decision that needs to be made. As a couple, Jig and the American, are trying to decide if she should have an abortion to end the unplanned pregnancy. Indirectly, the hills in the story help tie in the landscape and the woman's body. In the story it says, They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry. (Arp 295) We talked about in class that this is a symbol of a woman's body being not fertile or her having the abortion where as green land described the woman being fertile and not having the abortion. Throughout the story, the American is completely for abortion because he states But I don't want anybody but you. (Arp 298) On the other hand, she feels a little remorseful for being able to make that decision. She says to him, Doesn't it mean anything to you? (Arp 298) showing her side. The train station also seems to be symbolic in my perspective showing that she has the choice to keep the baby or not. The ending is never told to the audience of what she chose to do. The symbolism in this story is what makes the story such a good short story. With having to analyze most of details in the story, it helps keep the readers attention and helps the readers dig deep with their literature skills.

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Storytelling Tips from Ernest Hemingway. (2020, Feb 26). Retrieved February 28, 2024 , from

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