Well, what did you think?
The thing that was really hitting me these last few chapters was how Hemingway and Hadley kept bringing up luck or “knocking on wood” as if he was trying to make it seem like his fate was really completely out of his hands and he had no control over what happened in their lives. He blames the “pilot fish” for the fact that he let himself become vulnerable to the charms of the rich. But even sadder is that he claims his falling for another woman is “the oldest trick there is” and “all things truly wicked start from an innocence.” I feel like he’s making excuses for his actions instead of taking responsibility for being the one who ended the marriage.
It’s similar to what I noticed between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda. If they didn’t define a dysfunctional relationship, I’m not sure what would. They both seemed as if they were fine with not being culpable for any of their drunken activities—”becoming unconscious when they drank had always been their great defense”—and Zelda, in particular, was always looking to get them both all liquored up. Even though there were funny moments between Hemingway and Fitzgerald that felt like you were watching an old vaudeville comedy routine, I couldn’t help but feel that their lives were sad. Maybe it’s that as these great writers became more successful, they felt that they started to lose some control over their lives; I’m not quite sure. And watching his wife slowly unravel must have made Fitzgerald feel like maybe he was losing it, too.
Overall, it felt like this was Hemingway’s wistful tribute to that time when life was ultimately simple…before he lost his innocence and became a “success.” And although his life had changed, as much as Paris itself has since then, that moment in time—or the person that he once was—will always live on and thrive in his book.
After reading the whole story, I’m curious to hear what you think of Hemingway as a man. Do you think he felt regret for his actions years later and that he was portraying himself in a self-denigrating way on purpose? Or do you think that he was trying to rationalize his behavior and displace blame?
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