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Literature Questions, Essay Example

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In Hemingway’s text, Nick’s belief that he can heal his body and mind in nature suggests that the cause of his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is modern society and the pressures it induces. Hence, Hemingway posits a clear difference in the existences of the human within a “natural” or “modern” technological paradigm: Nick’s character has been broken by the latter paradigm. In this sense, the metaphorical language of Hemingway’s text aims to show this pressure inflicted upon the modern world by Nick: symbols such as fishing and camping in nature evoke a tranquility not found in the modern world. Nick’s mental condition is thus one in which he desires to cleanse himself of the stress induced by modernity. The swamp in this sense functions as a symbol expressing Nick’s current position between these two states: the swamp is a form of nature that limits movement, with images of bogs and murky pools of water. At once, the swamp is a form of nature, and thus the centrality of this symbol to the story reflects Nick’s occupation of a world that is between the modern and nature.

 

Stein’s innovation as a writer is arguably tied to her twisting of conventional narrative forms, instead intending to produce a more psychological narrative that is not based so much on plot as it is on the subject experiences of the central character. This approach is present in her story “The Gentle Lena”, whereas a banal incident invokes the fragmented psyche of Lena’s character: “Lena was a little troubled. She looked hard at her finger where the paint was, and she wondered if she had really sucked it.” (268) Plot is thus de-emphasized to provide a view into subjective experience: arguably this demonstrates that plot is not necessary to developing strong characters, but rather what is needed is a commitment to developing these characters themselves. In the case of Lena, her passionless is reflected in the mundane quality of the experiences portrayed, as well as her reactions to these same qualities. Repetition is furthermore employed to demonstrate the repetitiveness of Lena’s life itself. Accordingly, Stein demonstrates how innovative and non-traditional techniques can create equally compelling narratives.

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