Hemingway’s Masculine Opiate

A look at the portrayal of masculinity in the literature of Ernest Hemingway.

This paper examines how one of the central problems Ernest Hemingway struggled with as an author was the question of how it was possible for an artist to be a man, as Hemingway defined true masculinity, and, at the same time, still function as an effective artist and writer. It looks at how, at the time, art was associated with femininity, partly because it enabled the reader to escape from real life and the real world into the constructed world of fiction and how war and the outer, outdoors life of a man was associated with what was good, masculine, and thus antithetical to being an artist in the traditional sense. It explores how Hemingway managed to bridge this perceived ideological gap by lauding heroes, such as Cayetano of The Gambler, The Nun, and the Radio, who are stalwart in the face of pain, yet who still find a means of escape from the overwhelming shadow of reality.
Hemingway stated that he used his style to convey a truth to the reader, but truth was not synonymous with reality. Another, more perspicuous critic of the Hemingway style Alfred Kazin noted that, in Hemingway,? death might yet be recorded in the sentient flesh as intimate a sensation as eating, drinking, and lovemaking. But the true sentence could be recognized only if it had the right cadence and the tease of subtlety in some culminating word,? that conveyed truth rather than reality straight up. Kazin stated that Hemingway used his style, not to be realistic, but rather Hemingway wanted to unsettle the reader just enough to make him sit up and notice a different way of saying things…. a different way, but not necessarily a more realistic or true-to-life way of seeing things.