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Hemingway's Iceberg Theory in Hills Like White Elephants and The Killers

Essay 2005 7 Pages

American Studies - Literature

Excerpt

Contents

Introduction

1. The iceberg-theory in “Hills Like White Elephants”

2. The iceberg-theory in “The Killers”

3. Conclusion

Works Cited

Introduction:

Hemingway once said: “If it is any use to know it, I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There are seven-eights of it under water for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story.”1

Hemingway tended to not tell the reader about how the characters in his stories feel or think.

He lets the reader develop his own ideas about the background or intentions of the characters and wanted the reader to “fill(ing) in ‘the creative void’”.[…] “His primary aim was to arouse the reader’s own personal emotions, deeply involve him in the experience created for him and thereby enable him to discover ‘the real thing’”2.

This Essay will show and compare the use of this theory in two of Hemingway’s short stories, “Hills Like White Elephants”3 and “The Killers”4.

1. The iceberg-theory in “Hills Like White Elephants”:

Hills Like White Elephants puts the reader directly into the story as it begins with a description of a landscape and a railway station without telling where exactly the described scenery takes place.5 The reader starts searching and questioning and gets involved into the story.6

When the man starts to talk to the girl about the operation she doesn’t answer but looks at the ground. The author doesn’t tell the reader what kind of an operation he is talking about nor why the girl is looking at the ground. “Hemingway purposely refrains from doing so, knowing that the emotional impact is much more intense if the emotion is supplied by the reader”.7

This whole scenery is described from the girls perspective. The reader develops sympathy for the girl. This is more intensified when the man starts to talk to the girl again about the operation (an abortion). He didn’t understand that the girl isn’t feeling well when talking about that topic but anyways he is starts again with it. He also chooses a very crude formulation when saying “It’s just to let the air in”8 when talking about the upcoming abortion.9 The girl doesn’t answer but he still doesn’t get it and repeats the phrase again. The reader still doesn’t know what’s it all about and he starts developing sympathy for the girl.

When she starts asking about what they will do after the operation the man says that they would be fine afterwards, that they would be all right and happy. The girl answers with a ironic “And you think then we’ll be all right and happy.10” The missing question mark at the end shows that this was not a question. It looks and sounds more like an ironic statement. When the man tells her 11“I’ve known lots of people that have done it” and she replies “So have I, and afterwards they were all so happy12”.

[...]


1) HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Death in the afternoon. Reprinted. London: Cape, 1963, p. 182.

2) GIGER, Romeo. The Creative Void. Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory, Bern: Francke, 1977, p. 52.

3) HEMINGWAY, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” Men without women, Cleveland: World Publ. Co., 1946.

4) HEMINGWAY, Ernest. “The Killers.” Men without women, Cleveland: World Publ. Co., 1946.

5) HEMINGWAY, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” Men without women, Cleveland: World Publ. Co.,

1946, p. 211.

6) GIGER, Romeo. The Creative Void. Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory, Bern: Francke, 1977, p. 38.

7) ibid., p. 40.

8) HEMINGWAY, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” Men without women, Cleveland: World Publ. Co.,

1946, p. 212.

9) GIGER, Romeo. The Creative Void. Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory, Bern: Francke, 1977, p. 42.

10) HEMINGWAY, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” Men without women, Cleveland: World Publ. Co.,

1946, p. 213.

11) ibid., p.213

12) ibid., p.213

Details

Pages
7
Year
2005
ISBN (eBook)
9783638432856
File size
440 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v46000
Institution / College
University of Tubingen – Seminar für Englische Philologie
Grade
2,0
Tags
Hemingway Iceberg Theory Hills Like White Elephants Killers Proseminar

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Title: Hemingway's Iceberg Theory in Hills Like White Elephants and The Killers