Hemingway – an analysis (written by me)

I took this off the group blog to put on here too, so I can show some of the stuff I am up to…

Don’t worry, I’m not stealing the group work! This was mine anyways! 😛

Our first task was to analyse one of Hemingway’s famously short stories “For sale, children’s shoes, never worn.” Most people after initially reading this ‘story’ would question if it can even qualify as a story; it isn’t a grammatically complete sentence (it is more like a statement without context), it lacks a visible narrative structure, it is missing typical conventions such as defined characters and purpose. But what we can take from this is what it is implying, as opposed to what it lacks, instead of a passive text we are encouraged to interact with the information provided in order to mentally flesh out the story for themselves.

So we have to ask ourselves… “Even if I try to make sense of this statement, even if I interact with the text, what information can I get from it?” Unfortunately there really cannot be one clear cut “yes or no” answer for something like this; when it comes down to each of us analysing the information it becomes a subjective observation – we will all draw different readings from what is laid in front of us. Imagination will vary from person to person, so people will create their own information to ‘fill the gaps’ differently.

We as a group took a fairly unanimous reading from this story; we linked the statement to a war themed context (possibly world war II due to the evacuations), and disaster (child death on a large scale, possibly genocide, possibly bombing, or possibly abortions). The reason we felt strongly that it was around the time of a large scale war (possibly post war as that is when the full effects are realised) was mainly because we know entire generations can be wiped out, and the population feels this through the subsequent surplus/redundancy of particular supplies or practices. The other possible reading was a prediction of our future; perhaps Hemingway had a bleak outlook on the shape of things to come. As I stated before there really cannot be one definite explanation (especially in literature), and unless we miraculously travel back in time to interview Hemingway personally we will never know how ‘right’ we are.

A lot of information can be generated around “For sale, children’s shoes, never worn”, and I think that’s why Hemingway considered this to be one of his best stories ever written. This story is short and easy to remember, but at the same time it is powerful, meaningful. It hits you like any good story should, but it does so without having to conform to the various paradigms that make a quintessential ‘story’.


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