The Iceberg Theory


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The Iceberg Theory

  1. 1. The Iceberg Theory: How Ernest Hemingway's Principle of Omission is Reflected in his Literary Works
  2. 2. Hemingway's Iceberg Theory <ul>If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. The writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.(192) </ul><ul>- Ernest Hemingway </ul>
  3. 3. “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” <ul><li>Terse account of an old man and two waiters at a cafe
  4. 4. Third person narrative that stick only to readily discernible facts </li><ul><li>Forces or allows the reader to apply judgment of events and characters
  5. 5. Often unclear who is even speaking, leaving the reader to decide on their own(Samuelson 5) </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” <ul><li>Repetition of the key theme is contrasted with Hemingway's minimalism </li><ul><li>The old man is alone in the world </li><ul><li>the “old man...sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made”(143)
  7. 7. “ the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves”(143)
  8. 8. “ the old man sitting in the shadow”(143)
  9. 9. &quot;...the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he could feel the difference&quot;(143) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” <ul><li>The young waiter plays Devil's Advocate to supply an alternate theme for the old waiter to argue against </li><ul><li>“ there are bodegas, open all night long”(145)
  11. 11. “ You don't understand” insists the older waiter, “This is a clean and pleasant cafe”(145) </li></ul><li>Ultimately the narrator follows the older waiter from the cafe; signifying Hemingway's relation with his views </li></ul>
  12. 12. “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” <ul><li>The old waiters monologue </li><ul><li>The old waiter slips into a monologue of the Lord's Prayer of nada, easily the longest portion of the story
  13. 13. Signifies his fear that there is nothing to justify living; thus everything to justify death
  14. 14. The old waiter fools himself, calling his uneasiness “insomnia”(146) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” <ul><li>The old man is no longer able to fool himself as the old waiter does and has already acted once to kill himself </li></ul>
  16. 16. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><li>Acclaimed as the “ultimate testimony” to extreme minimalism(Sexton, Para. 5)
  17. 17. An American couple waits for a train to Madrid </li><ul><li>The plot of the story is not written in the prose </li><ul><li>The girl is pregnant
  18. 18. The couple discuss an abortion </li></ul><li>The plot is only evident when the reader considers the setting, symbolism and dialogue </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><li>The setting is incomplete at the beginning of the story </li><ul><li>Additional details sneak in slowly </li><ul><li>Adding trees to the distant hills in stark contrast to the barren area of the station(33)
  20. 20. Comparison of the white hills to white elephants
  21. 21. “ fields of grain and trees... mountains... [and] a cloud [moving] across the field”(35) provides the final demonstration of the fertility of the area of the hills </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 22. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><li>The beads of the cafe door are referenced several times </li><ul><li>After initial description in the introduction, the girl shows interest in what is painted on them(32)
  23. 23. They later “blow against the table”(34)
  24. 24. The girl “holds two of the strings of beads”(34) as a rosary is held
  25. 25. Then paradoxically, the man passes “through the bead curtain” near the end of the story </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><li>The dialogue between the man and the girl is cryptic </li><ul><li>The conversation is highly gender based(Smiley 2) </li><ul><li>Needing intimacy the girl uses pronouns such as “we” and “us”
  27. 27. Needing independence, the man uses pronouns such as “I” and “you” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><ul><li>No meaningful dialogue occurs about the operation </li><ul><li>The man is contradictory; stating, “I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to ”(34)
  29. 29. The girl unfairly requests absolutes such as “you won't ever worry”(34)
  30. 30. The dialogue ends with the action of the man rejecting the girls suggestion to “finish the beer”(36) together after the bags are moved </li></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 31. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><li>The abortion </li><ul><li>Supported by the imagery of the barren train station contrasted with the fertile farmland in the distance
  32. 32. Supported by the rosary symbol </li><ul><li>Both the girl and the Catholic Church oppose the abortion
  33. 33. The man mysteriously walks through the “rosary” beads near the end of the story </li></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 34. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><ul><li>Supported by the dialogue </li><ul><li>The girls stresses inclusiveness in speech; reflecting her desire to include both the man and the unborn baby in her life
  35. 35. The man stresses independence in his speech; stressing the importance of not being tied down with a baby and possible not even the girl </li></ul></ul></ul>
  36. 36. “Hills Like White Elephants” <ul><li>Nothing is clear </li><ul><li>The reader is expected to decide from the clues the man and girl's fate </li><ul><li>Did the couple go on to Madrid and the abortion
  37. 37. Did they return to Barcelona and “have everything”(35) as the main finally passing through the “rosary” beads implies
  38. 38. Did the man establish his independence from the girl as the solitary drink at the bar implies </li></ul></ul></ul>
  39. 39. “ Read anything I write for the pleasure of reading it. Whatever else you find will be the measure of what you brought to the reading”(Plimpton 18) -Ernest Hemingway
  40. 40. Works Cited “ A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Maria Rose Napierkowski. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Web. 12 July 2010. Hemingway, Ernest. “A Clean, Well Lighted Place” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Id. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 143-146. Print. Hemingway, Ernest. Death in the Afternoon. New York: Scribner's, 1932. Print. Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants” Men Without Women. Middlesex, Penguin Books Ltd., 1972. 32-37. Print. Samuelson, Scott, “Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (1923-1938)” Rexburg: Ricks College English Department, 1992. Web. 12 July 2010.