Description   |   Syllabus

Writing Manhood: Hemingway & His Progeny
UC Berkeley
Spring 2021


 It is difficult to point to a more foundational American writer than Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway embodied a kind of balls-to-the-wall masculine energy that dominated American modernist fiction for decades of war and conflict. For more than fifty years the ideal of manhood in American media and culture was as Hemingway described it: taciturn, bellicose, neurotic and given to the heroic killing of people and animals. In this class we will explore the major works of this essential American writer and seek to understand, with unflinching candor, what makes his work go on living, as dream or as nightmare, for readers and writers. For answers, we will look to the work of Hemingway’s epigones, from Dashiell Hammett to James Salter to Chester Himes, from Joan Didion to Raymond Carver to Lorrie Moore, from Denis Johnson to Cormac McCarthy.



Writing Manhood

Hemingway & His Progeny

English 166, Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11 to 1230

Mark Danner


 It is difficult to point to a more foundational American writer than Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway embodied a kind of balls-to-the-wall masculine energy that dominated American modernist fiction for decades of war and conflict. For more than fifty years the ideal of manhood in American media and culture was as Hemingway described it: taciturn, bellicose, neurotic and given to the heroic killing of people and animals. In this class we will explore the major works of this essential American writer and seek to understand, with unflinching candor, what makes his work go on living, as dream or as nightmare, for readers and writers. For answers, we will look to the work of Hemingway’s epigones, from Dashiell Hammett to James Salter to Chester Himes, from Joan Didion to Raymond Carver to Lorrie Moore, from Denis Johnson to Cormac McCarthy.



Warning Some books in this course contain words – including racial and ethnic slurs -- that are offensive. We will be discussing this issue in class but please be prepared for this in your reading.


Course Reader Ryan Lackey is our course reader. He will be having office hours on Thursdays and Fridays and can be reached at


Class Requirements This class will be a mixture of lectures and discussion, backed up by a large amount of reading, and some writing. The most important requirements are that students


*Attend all class sessions

*Keep up with reading and writing assignments

*Participate in discussions

*Offer a class presentation, in collaboration with one or two colleagues

*Complete one six-page midterm paper and one ten-page final paper


A student’s record of attendance and participation in class discussion, together with the quality of his or her writing, will determine the success of our class and contribute the better part of the grade.


Schedule Note that all classes will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 am via Zoom.


Reading Our primary reading will draw on a series of novels and memoirs by Hemingway and other writers. They are listed below under Required Texts. I strongly urge you to obtain these books in your own copies and in the edition specified either from local bookstores or from online suppliers, so that you will be able to highlight and annotate them and so that during discussions we will all be “on the same page.”

Favorite Passages Always come to class with a favorite passage of a paragraph or two drawn from that session’s assigned reading. Be prepared to read the passage out loud and say a few words about why you chose it.

Writing and Final Exam There will be two papers required in this class, a short creative paper or story of 5-6 pages and a longer analytic paper of 8-10 pages. The short paper is due March 22, the final paper is due May 3.

      To bolster the clarity and vigor of your prose, I strongly suggest studying two works: George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language,” which can be readily found on the web, and Strunk and White’s little manual, The Elements of Style.


Class Presentation Every student will be required to put on a class presentation in collaboration with one or two other students. The presentations should last ten to fifteen minutes and take up some subject ancillary to the class, having to do with Hemingway, his era, masculinity, writers he’d influenced or all of those. Use of images and video is strongly encouraged.


Office Hours I will want to meet individually with each of you at least once during the semester. I will be holding office hours Friday mornings. We will begin to schedule these a few weeks into the semester. You are welcome to come talk to me about the class, the reading or anything else of interest. Note that our course reader, Ryan Lackey, will also be available to meet with students on Thursdays and Fridays.

Grading Students will be graded on their preparedness and their participation in class, the strength of their presentations and the quality of their written work, roughly as follows.


Attendance            25 percent

Participation          25 percent

Writing                  25 percent

Presentation           25 percent



Required Texts


Raymond Carver, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (Vintage, 2010 [1976])


Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays (Farrar Straus, 2005 [1970])


Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (Vintage, 1992 [1930])


Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (Scribner, 1995 [1925])


Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (Scribner, 2016 [1926])


Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (Scribner, 2014 [1929])


Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner, 2019 [1940])


Ernest Hemingway, The Complete Short Stories (Scribner, 1998)


Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea (Scribner, 1995 [1962])


Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition (Scribner, 2010 [1964])


Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden (Scribner, 1995 [1986])


Chester Himes, If He Hollers, Let Him Go (Thunders Mouth, 2002 [1947])


Denis Johnson, Train Dreams: A Novella (Picador, 2012)


Cormac McCarthy, The Road (Vintage, 2006)


Lorrie Moore, Birds of America: Stories (Vintage, 2010)


James Salter, The Hunters: A Novel (Vintage, 1999 [1956])





A Farewell to Arms (1932)


The Maltese Falcon (1941)


For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)


To Have and Have Not (1944)


The Killers (1946)


Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns (2021)









January 19 – Introduction to Course. Hemingway’s words. Where He Came From. Modernism. On the Evolution of Masculinity. Reading Novels. On the plan of the course. Writing assignments.


January 21Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (Scribner, 1995 [1925])



January 26Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (Scribner, 1995 [1925])


January 28Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (Scribner, 1995 [1925]) and these additional stories from The Complete Short Stories (Scribner, 1998):


"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"

"The Snows of Kilimanjaro"

"Up in Michigan"

"The Undefeated"

"In Another Country"

"The Killers"

"Now I Lay Me"

"A Clean Well Lighted Place"

"A Way You'll Never Be"

"A Natural History of the Dead"

"Fathers and Sons"



February 2 -- Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition (Scribner, 2010 [1964])


February 4 -- Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition

(Scribner, 2010 [1964])



February 9 -- Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (Scribner, 2016 [1926])


February 11 -- Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (Scribner, 2016 [1926])



February 16 -- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (Scribner, 2014 [1929])


February 18 -- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (Scribner, 2014 [1929])



February 23 – Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (Vintage, 1992 [1930])


         Recommended: Diane Johnson, Dashiell Hammett: Man of Mystery (2014)



February 25 -- Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (Vintage, 1992 [1930])


         Recommended: Raymond Chandler, "The Simple Art of Murder" (1950)


               Recommended: Claudia Roth Pierpont, "Tough Guy: The Mystery of Dashiell Hammett," The New Yorker, Feb. 4, 2002.



March 2 -- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner, 2019 [1940])


March 4 -- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner, 2019 [1940])



March 9 – James Salter, The Hunters: A Novel (Vintage, 1999 [1956])


March 11-- James Salter, The Hunters: A Novel (Vintage, 1999 [1956])



March 16 -- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea (Scribner, 1995 [1962])


March 18 -- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea (Scribner, 1995 [1962])


March 22 – Midterm Paper Due (6-8 pages, double-spaced, with title, pagination and name)



March 23 – Spring Vacation (No Class)


March 25 – Spring Vacation (No Class)



March 30 -- Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden (Scribner, 1995 [1986])


April 1 -- Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden (Scribner, 1995 [1986])



April 6 – Chester Himes, If He Hollers, Let Him Go (Thunders Mouth, 2002 [1947])


April 8 -- Chester Himes, If He Hollers, Let Him Go (Thunders Mouth, 2002 [1947])



April 13 -- Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays (Farrar Straus, 2005 [1970])

                        Recommended: Joan Didion, “Last Words” (1998)


April 15 -- Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays (Farrar Straus, 2005 [1970])



April 20 -- Raymond Carver, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (Vintage, 2010 [1976])


April 22 -- Lorrie Moore, Birds of America: Stories (Vintage, 2010)



April 27 -- Cormac McCarthy, The Road (Vintage, 2006)


April 29 -- Denis Johnson, Train Dreams: A Novella (Picador, 2012)


May 3 – Final Paper Due (8-10 pages, double-spaced, with title, pagination and name)




Annotated Syllabus

Notes by Riley Schorr


January 19, 2021

In Our Time

A.  “A Very Short Story”

a.    “The searchlights came out”

                                          i.         Indicative of the wartime setting.

b.    Describing Luz as “cool and fresh”

                                          i.         Indicates a passage of time; He’s saying they made love.

                                        ii.         It is also mentioned that Luz stayed on night duty in order to have sex with the the main character and everyone around them knew about the affair.

c.    Hemingway’s father called this piece “filth”

                                          i.         The mention of gonorrhea at the end of the text; big clash of societal practices/manners.

1.    This is mentioned at the end of the text where a character’s epiphany is usually located.

d.    Love as conditional

                                          i.         Her love comes with conditions and confinements (wants him to get a job, etc.) while he gives her his love freely.

                                        ii.         Shows a feeling of betrayal

1.    The story is semi-autobiographical as Hemingway himself had an affair with a nurse in Milan named Agnes.

2.    He always felt women would inevitably betray him.

January 21, 2021

In Our Time

A.  Title from the Book of Common Prayer

a.    “Oh Lord give us peace in our time”

                                          i.         This allusion is a marking of wartime.

B.   The Lost Generation

a.    Term coined by Gertrude Stein

b.    Generation of the “fin de siecle”

                                          i.         “End of the century”

                                        ii.         Hemingway is in this generation (born in 1899 and died in 1961)

c.    WWI: 1914-1918

                                          i.         Caused unprecedented carnage and death (20 million dead along with 20 million casualties).

                                        ii.         Wiped out an entire generation of men in countries such as Germany and Italy.

                                      iii.         Hemingway desperately wanted to fight in the war, but had to wait until he was 18. Served as a volunteer ambulance driver.

                                      iv.         The desperation from this war gave way to Modernism

1.    Shift from hopefulness to hopelessness.

C.   Documentary Clip

a.    Hemingway ended up in the hospital after a blast injured him, leaving him with a severe concussion and leg injury from shrapnel.

                                          i.         During his stay here he fell in love with a nurse named Agnes and they formed a romantic relationship.

1.    She eventually  broke it off and the effect of this heartbreak is seen in Hemingway’s short story “A Very Short Story”

                                        ii.         After returning home, Hemingway suffered from PTSD (could not sleep in the dark and had a difficult time sleeping alone).

1.    He also went on to tell his war stories and embellished on them quite heavily.


January 26, 2021

A.  Aftermath of Agnes

a.    Hemingway never responded to her letter and in order to numb the pain of her rejection he began drinking heavily.

                                          i.         Meets Hadley Richardson at a party and quickly decides to marry her.

B.   Paris

a.    Told to go to Paris by Sherwood Anderson

                                          i.         Wrote him multiple letter of recommendation

1.    Hemingway arrives as a young newly married man, and rents a place with his wife for 18 dollars a month.

C.   Vignettes

a.    Relationship with the stories

                                          i.         Kind of shows the direction/inspiration for the story that is about to be told.

                                        ii.         Sets a tone

                                      iii.         Shows a contrast between past and present

b.    Suppression of emotions

                                          i.         A masculine distancing from vulnerability

1.    Dishonest in a way

D.  “Soldier’s Home”

a.    A feeling of not being able to relate or talk to anyone about the war and his feelings; shows the alienation Hemingway felt upon returning home.

b.    Question of how do you even begin to speak about the experiences from WWI

E.   “Indian Camp”

a.    Uncle George:

                                          i.         Hands out cigars, helps hold the woman down, and ends up being bitten by her.

1.    Theory: perhaps George is the father of the child? (kind of theorized by the way he hands out cigars amongst other little details; not proven, but a cool theory to think over)

January 28, 2021

A.  “Big Two-Hearted river”

a.    Goes into nature to heal himself

b.    Kingfisher symbol

                                          i.         Multiple mentions of this in other works. (Hemingway would have understood its importance and meaning)

                                        ii.         Hopkins “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”

1.    Each mortal being has one thing in common: they all die. This is a discussion about mortality and immortality.

c.    Before the war and after

                                          i.         Vastly different worlds, both in actuality and in Nick’s own experience.

1.    Says they never saw one of their friends (Hopkins) again, most likely meaning he died.

                                        ii.         Keeps mentioning how long ago the war was

1.    Almost an entirely different lifetime, and for Nick it truly was.

d.    Cans

                                          i.         Opening up/vulnerability

                                        ii.         Maybe a reminder of wartime - preserved foods.

e.    “The fishing would be tragic”

                                          i.         River that sort of leads into a swamp

1.    Healing from trauma is messy

2.    Hemingway implies he will eventually go down the stream, just not today.

f.     Cedar is often a symbol for death

B.   “Up in Michigan”

a.    Told from a woman’s perspective

                                          i.         A sexual assault occurs and the story was once thought to be unpublishable.

                                        ii.         Pursuing her is compared to “the hunt” and “the chase”

b.    At first there is a lot of autonomy from here, especially when she mentions being the one to take him up to bed. However this quickly changes as things seem to shift into his point of view.

February 2, 2021

Discussion of short stories

A.  Breakout room discussion

a.    The voices of women in many Hemingway stories can be seen as nagging and a burden for people to listen to.

b.    Hemingway seems to equate romance and lust to a sense of ownership

c.    “Short and Happy Life…”

                                          i.         She’s too pretty and he has too much money

1.    This is a power struggle between them.

2.    She is portrayed as more masculine than he is, which makes her not want to be with him anymore (after he runs away from the lion).

a.    Her masculinity is shown to be a negative thing and a dangerous thing.

February 4, 2021

A Moveable Feast

A.  Paris

a.    Ties a lot together; center of the writing world at this time

b.    Very cheap to live in, especially for Americans

                                          i.         The place to be

c.    Hemingway exaggerated how poor they were

B.   The Lost Generation

a.    PTSD, WWI, Modernism, etc.

                                          i.         Comes out through art

b.    The War

                                          i.         Ended civilization as they knew it; fought with modern industry; Economic insecurity: Germany struggled, Russian revolution.

                                        ii.         Many adopted a “get it while you can” kind of mentality of living life to the fullest.

C.   Hemingway’s relation to work

a.    Determines someone’s value based on how well they get work done and how productive they are.

                                          i.         Disdain for people who don’t get work done (shown in his comments on how Zelda tries to prevent F. Scott Fitzgerald from getting his work done)

February 9, 2021

The Sun Also Rises

A.  Why begin with Robert?

a.    The role he plays

                                          i.         A sort of flip

b.    Exposed a bit of anti semitism that Hemingway was later very embarrassed by.

B.   Jake’s impotence

a.    Love that cannot be consummated

b.    Infertility

c.    Forces him to be more observant

d.    Shown when he picks up Georgette the prostitute

                                          i.         A way for Hemingway to show readers this important detail without just telling them

C.   A feeling of emptiness from the text

a.    A lot of sadness masked with alcohol and socialization

b.    A feeling of what could’ve been

D.  The Latin Quarter

a.    During this time there were a lot of Americans in Paris.

                                          i.         Drinking; era of prohibition in the states

                                        ii.         Many were better off financially

February 11, 2021

The Sun Also Rises

A.  The Title:

a.    The initial title was either “Fiesta,” and then “The Lost Generation.”

B.   Pg 22. “She was sitting up now...I’m paying for it all now’”

a.    She’s broken so many men’s hearts now she sees her situation with Jake as her karma.

b.    Is this love real?

                                          i.         Idealized in part (can’t be consummated)

                                        ii.         Harder to believe her love for him

                                      iii.         sentimentalized

C.   Jake represents stability for Brett

a.    He is always available to rescue her and she always knows she can turn to him.

b.    Jake offers her passion as well

                                          i.         He has a disbelief in the legitimacy of her love.

D.  Pg. 189 “After lunch I went up to my room…”

a.    A sort of ritual cleansing

b.    Return to nature (hero often does this alone or with another man).


February 16, 2021

A Farewell to Arms

A.  Hemingway and Hadley

a.    Cheats on her, she asks for a divorce

b.    He marries Pauline and converts to Catholicism

                                          i.         Says he was never truly married to Hadley and calls Pauline his first wife.

B.   Prevalence of Suicide

a.    Hemingway says his father was a coward and an embarrassment for taking his own life and that his mother heavily contributed.

C.   Later on…

a.    Very famous

                                          i.         Becomes a household name and his name becomes nearly synonymous with “amazing writer.”

                                        ii.         Established as an icon.

D.  Italian front/Hemingway’s story

a.    Henry is passing out food in the trenches just like Hemingway did himself.

                                          i.         Hemingway ended up with a huge piece of shrapnel in his leg along with bullets.

1.    Dragged a man to safety, regarded as a hero though he insists he is not one

b.    Meets Agnes in Milan

                                          i.         Falls in love with her

1.    Ends in heartbreak, as we know.

*title of the novel: comes from George Peelle poem that celebrates the retirement of a famous knight*

E.   Symbols

a.    Rain: impending doom and despair

                                          i.         Ex; when Catherine goes into labor and it begins to rain.

b.    Nature/Seasons

                                          i.         Feeling of slow and natural progression of time through the novel.

F.    Masculinity

a.    A man knows how to do things such as hunt, fish, etc.

                                          i.         They then teach these skills to others

                                        ii.         Hemingway was taught by his father, and so on and so forth.


February 18, 2021

A Farewell to Arms

A.  Pg. 113 & 115: “After dinner we walked...very hard on piano keys” & “You couldn’t get to Scotland...There’s no way to be married except by church and state”

a.    Expansion of the plot in “A Very Short Story”

b.    Beautiful imagery of her hair in this scene

c.    Rain is once again a symbol of impending doom and death

B.   What is the character of the relationship?

a.    Perhaps it is an idealized sort of love, always affected by the war and all of the trauma that came along with it.

b.    Fantasy

c.    Escape; everything about it is completely rushed: they don’t know where they’re going and they can’t seem to be apart from one another.

C.   Why is the relationship doomed?

a.    Too much rule breaking; reflection of Hemingway’s own life experiences.

b.    His real life relationship didn't work so why should this one? It would have felt disingenuous.

c.    While Henry didn’t have his heart broken by Catherine, the universe still didn’t allow them to end up together

                                          i.         Tainted by the war; they can’t just walk away from it.


February 25, 2021

The Maltese Falcon

A.  Femme Fatale

a.    Brigid: uses her femininity to gain things

                                          i.         Men who fall for her tend to meet a bad end

1.    Indicative of this archetype

B.   Spade

a.    Trying to navigate his way through an amoral world.

b.    When he first speaks to the police: refuses to mention Brigid.

c.    Amoral himself

C.   How does love fit in? What does it say about the idea of masculinity?

a.    Love is a weakness, a “personal failing”

b.    Some anti-romantic lines

c.    Love in a vulnerability; Brigid provides a fantasy version of love.

d.    Brigid’s power over people is through her sexuality

                                          i.         This is why Cairo scares her so much, she has no hold over him

e.    Spade can’t stand Iva because she romanticizes their affair far too much

                                          i.         Example: she thinks Spade killed her husband so they can be together.

D.  Love in the Story

a.    Brigid lying all the time: Spade sort of admires this about her because he himself is an amoral character. He lies just like she does.

b.    A sort of camaraderie in this.


March 2, 2021

For Whom the Bell Tolls

A.  Published in 1940

a.    Events in the novel take place in 1937

b.    Based off of real life happenings, although the book is fiction (war in Spain against fascism).

c.    Hemingway went to Spain in order to report on the war; he was the highest paid reporter at the time.

                                          i.         While there he met Martha Gellhorn who would later become his third wife.

B.   This war was also intensely brutal

a.    Leftists from everywhere around the world travelled to fight in this war and show support in stopping fascism.

C.   During his time, Hemingway covered up much of the abuses from the Soviets as he felt it would hurt the left’s cause.

a.    George Orwell was one of the few who didn’t

b.    Hemingway was not exactly a leftist writer either, he felt there was just good and bad writing.

D.  Message of the title

a.    Excerpt from John Donne’s writing

                                          i.         Message: call to action. The bell tolls for you. Take action.


March 4, 2021

For Whom the Bell Tolls

A.  Hemingway heroes

a.    Robert Jordan: brave and manly even in the face of defeat

                                          i.         Think Casablanca

                                        ii.         Antifascist hero character

B.   Love in the novel

a.    Like new love, sensual and fiery but not entirely realistic

                                          i.         “The girl stooped as she...which rose again as her hand passed” (24).

                                        ii.         Love at first sight, the thunderbolt

b.    Maria’s love allows him to live a full life during this very short time.

c.    This is a type of love that is not sustainable outside of their extreme/traumatic circumstances

d.    Their relationship:

                                          i.         Is it love or lust? Why Robert?

                                        ii.         Maria was assaulted and Robert represents someone who is from the outside, someone who does not know her past

e.    Maria as a character:

                                          i.         Very static and not very complex

                                        ii.         Hemingway sort of wrote a man’s fantasy of who this woman is (seen in how she sleeps with Robert and is magically healed from her trauma)


March 9, 2021

For Whom the Bell Tolls

A.  Robert Jordan

a.    Anti-heroic and anti-romantic

                                          i.         Throughout his experience with love, he’s able to redefine it

1.    Move beyond preconceived notions of love

b.    His female counterpart designed as “weak” to serve as a foil to him

                                          i.         Makes him seem all that much stronger

                                        ii.         Is this due to Heminway’s lack of understanding his own trauma?

1.    This is why it can be difficult to analyze Maria with a modern lens

B.   Another notable point is Hemingway’s treatment of death


March 11, 2021

The Hunters

A.  Salter

a.    Born in 1925 in New York

b.    James Salter was a pen name that eventually became his legal name

c.    He and his father were both professional military men

                                          i.         Both attended West Point

                                        ii.         The Hunters is largely autobiographical

B.   Roman e’clef

a.    “A novel with a key”

                                          i.         Characters who have real life counterparts

C.   Salter hero versus Hemingway hero

a.    Joins them: sensitivity to nature, etc

b.    Differences: Salter describes things with more clear emotion


March 18, 2021

The Old Man and the Sea

A.  Made him even more famous

a.    By this time, he was in his early 50s and many had pronounced him to be a “dead writer.”

b.    The character Santiago:

                                          i.         Thought to be based off of a real life counterpart in Hemingway’s life (captain of his boat).

B.   Conflict

a.    Between Santiago and fate/failure

                                          i.         Luck and the lack of it

b.    The number 40

                                          i.         Exile; biblical reference (Jesus in the desert, Noah’s ark, etc.)

C.   Imagery/Symbols/Themes

a.    Nailing his hands; 40 days

                                          i.         Gives the story a religious kind of figure.

b.    Manhood

                                          i.         Being able to bear what the world places on you

c.    What do you do?

                                          i.         Do you go drink brandy to escape or actively fight against the fish?

d.    Dignity of the fish

                                          i.         Young and powerful, compared to the old man

                                        ii.         Sort of demands respect

1.    Similar to the hunting portrayed in other short stories

                                      iii.         Projection onto the fish sort of like the projection onto the whale in Moby Dick.

1.    Differs because here there is an identification between the two of them.


March 30, 2021

The Garden of Eden/ The Old Man and the Sea

A.  Posthumous Work

a.    Only a third of the original manuscript that Hemingway left

b.    Sold millions of copies and won both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes

B.   Mary Welsh Hemingway

a.    His fourth wife

b.    Sounds like a turbulent relationship

C.   “I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures…”

a.    Religion of manhood

                                          i.         Constantly having to prove himself

D.  Imagery of the Lions on the Beach

a.    Heavenly/ sign of coming death?

b.    Other interpretation(s)

                                          i.         Lions gave him strength; why he didn’t surrender to death

E.   Characterization of his hands

a.    “How do you feel, hand?”

                                          i.         External, almost as if it does not belong to him

                                        ii.         Hands are described to be like claws; goes along with other animalistic comparisons of himself.


April 1, 2021

The Garden of Eden

A.  Main Elements

a.    Catherine: one of his most fleshed out female characters.

                                          i.         In a power struggle with David, a male character who is very passive (demonstrates Hemingway’s feelings on passive men).

b.    Sexual Play

                                          i.         Roleplay is discussed and explored; apparently a real life occurrence for Hemingway.

                                        ii.         Sexual roles are reversed here

c.    The Garden of Eden itself...where is it found?

                                          i.         Scene where they are swimming alone together

1.    This idea of being on vacation in limbo

d.    Marita

                                          i.         Catherine wants to explore by sleeping with Marita

1.    A way of fulfilling herself in the way David is able to

2.    Hunger to go against conventional norms and explore creativity

April 6, 2021

The Garden of Eden

A.  Catherine

a.    “Metaphorically genders herself male”

                                          i.         Her the destroyer, him the creative

B.   Group Discussion

a.    Gender switching; work is pushed in a new direction

                                          i.         More emotional and introspective as opposed to action based/external.

b.    Authority

                                          i.         Searching for autonomy/authority over her own life

c.    Hemingway and his own misogyny

                                          i.         Contributed largely to his depiction of women in his work/poor perception of them.


April 8, 2021

If He Hollers…

A.  Chester Himes

a.    Published stories from prison

b.    Moved to LA eventually

                                          i.         Held 23 jobs in about 3 years’ time

c.    Faced awful experiences with racism

                                          i.         Due to these experiences, became “bitter and saturated with hate”

B.   Novel begins with a man having “racialized dreams” and waking up in fear

C.   Alice

a.    Romantic figure

b.    Considered to be white passing, and this plays a role in their relationship


April 13, 2021

If He Hollers…

A.  Los Angeles

a.    Lots of racism

                                          i.         Japanese people were being forced into internment camps, many Black families were moving into these newly vacant spaces

                                        ii.         Zoot suit riots

1.    Chester Himes reported on this; thought all people of the Black community should know about these events.

B.   Question of Masculinity

a.    Whether he can truly be a man under the conditions or not.

                                          i.         Does being a man require fighting against these systems

C.   His relationship with Alice

a.    In private moments they can sometimes forget about hardships, however the problems surrounding race cannot be escaped

                                          i.         Very much a part of their relationship

1.    Seen when they first meet.


April 17, 2021

Play It As It Lays  Joan Didion

A.  Connection to Hemingway

a.    She was heavily influenced by his work

                                          i.         Would copy out sentences from his work in order to learn about his particular sentence structure.

B.   Fun fact: earned a Bachelor’s in English from UC Berkeley in 1956

Also wrote The White Album

April 20, 2021

Play It As It Lays.   Joan Didion
Imagery of California highways as empty, leading nowhere.
Inherent to Hemingway’s masculinity (a man is someone who can stand things)
Breakout room discussion
“You look like hell, Mariah. This isn’t any excuse to fall apart.”
Woman to woman criticism
Talking about divorce
In order to be taken seriously, women adopt traditionally masculine qualities.
In the end, did she really “stand it”?
Question because she does end up being institutionalized.
April 22, 2021
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?   Raymond Carver
Born 1938, died in 1988
Interesting life
From a working class family; father worked in a sawmill
Very different from the previous authors we’ve covered in the class (Hemingway from an upper middle class background, etc.).
Incredibly influential
70s and 80s
Movement for minimalism (Buford called this “dirty realism”)
At age 19, married his 16 year old girlfriend; she had two children shortly after.
He and his wife both worked and he went to college.
Much of this is seen represented in his literature.
Had his last drink in 1977, alcoholic for much of his life.
Lived 11 years with his second wife
April 27, 2021
Train Dreams. Dennis Johnson/The Road presentation
There was a lot of class discussion about Dennis Johnson here as well as the final paper.
Presentation on The Road/ Cormac McCarthy
This was not his birthname, changed later in this life.
Wrote No Country For Old Men, The Road, amongst other influential works and screenplays.
Fellow writers love and respect him, holding him as a major influence in their own careers
Ralph Ellison, Rachel Kushner
And that mankind is predisposed to do the wrong thing.
April 29, 2021
The Road.  Cormac McCarthy
Lots of God imagery/evocation
Symbolic ? the messiah
“You have to carry the fire”
Before the man dies
Suggestion of moral order; not to eat people even though the man and the boy are starving.
Secular or non secular?
Talks about God, but not of any particular religious structure
Secular religion in a way
Based on charity (ideas of sacrifice and that charity is not painless)
Last paragraphs
A new beginning, a cyclical nature of life on Earth.
Not negative or positive, kind of neutral.










© 2021 Mark Danner