Reading Club: The Old Man and the Sea & A Farewell to Arms



Amy: Good morning!Welcome to the reading club!I have seen your presentations about two novels written by Hemingway. Today,we will mainly focus on two books—the old man and the sea and a farewell to arms. So,why do you guys think that Hemingway‘s work can be so famous and what kind of spirit he wanted to give us?


Jack: I think for why Hemmingway’s works can be so famous, Hemmingway himself has already answered this question. Just in my presentation, I mentioned that Hemmingway said those things about his book The Old Man and the Sea: “I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things.” I think this sentence is a good answer for that question and a good conclusion for his book and the main reason why this book can be famous is actually those meaning contained in those characters.

Amy: Wow, good points. Sounds like you have a deep understanding about Hemingway. So, what about you Eric? What is your opinion towards Hemingway’s articles?


Eric: Undoubtedly, Hemingway was an eccentric and special author in his period of time. From his works of his early life stage’s writing, we can easily observe his anger, or dissatisfaction toward wars, and the confusion of coming life. He’s such a typical member of “the generation of lost”,thus his novels mostly revealed the problems which the people in that period faced. I think he wanted to convey an emotion of criticism to human’s evil side and an encouragement, or acknowledgement to humanity’s kindness. Since both feeling has he experienced himself, the

stories are more convincing and persuasive.


Amy: Excellent response. So, I want to ask you guys that if you are a character in the old man and the sea, which one do you like to be? The old man, the small boy, or the fish?


Jack: If I have a chance to be a character in the book The Old Man and The Sea, I actually want to be that boy. The reason is that he is still young, and that is quite important. The old man is tough, strong, and he has many skills. The reason I do not want to be him is that he is old. As a young boy, I can learn from the old man. In the book, the boy has already had many characters and learned may skills from the old man. Because of these reason, I think becoming that boy is not a bad idea. Because I am old, I have more chance in the future and I may also got chance to start my own work one day in the future.



Amy: Bravo! Oh, Jack I remember that there is a famous slogan in the old man and the sea,saying that “but man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” But at last,Hemingway just suicided. He was so optimistic about the world,so could you explain why he suicided finally?


Jack: I think that is really a tough question. I believe that Hemmingway is really a tough question and also optimistic about his life. I think there is no connection between being tough and suicide. Many people these days think that those people who killed themselves are weak and are not brave enough to face those challenges in their lives. Actually, Hemmingway is a brave person. He has got many shrapnel in his body because of joining in the World War I, and he lived many years suffering those pain. So I think he was not weak at that time he decided to kill himself. For a person who has suffered many things, I think is pretty to try to end his own life.

Amy: Excellent response. So, although Hemingway spread a positive and persistent attitude in many articles, it is a kind of relief for him to kill himself. So, the old man and the sea is a very famous work written by Hemingway. If you guys have time, you can read again about the old man and the sea and see some details in the book. So, now let’s continue to talk about a farewell to arms. Eric, could you please tell us that why you choose to introduce a farewell to arms for us?


Eric: Honestly, I picked this by coincidence—I had only read The Old Man and the Sea previously, thus, Hemingway’s impression for me was “a tough and determined and sophisticated person”. But I have never heard of his military experience in life. I was attracted because of my curiosity on this mysterious guy. That’s what I believed.


Amy: A Farewell to Arms is one of the most famous war novels ever written. Unlike many war stories, however, the novel does not glorify the experience of combat or offer us portraits of heroes as they are traditionally conceived. What is the novel’s attitude toward war? Is it fair to call A Farewell to Arms an antiwar novel?


Eric: Well, that’s a really subjective question, I believe everyone would have their own answers. Since he indeed hated wars and sharply revealed the tyranny and cruelty and his experiences of love and struggling during that time also converted into his bases of writing for other novels. In A farewell to Arms, the conflict is between love and battles, and focused on protagonists’ interactions—which was pure spiting of wars. Besides, the tragedy was result from wars, so, this novel is undoubtedly antiwar-great work in my point of view.


Amy: In the novel’s value system, violence is not necessarily wrong—neither Henry nor Bonello feels any remorse for shooting the engineering sergeant, and the reader believes Henry when he tells Catherine that he will kill the police if they come to arrest him. Furthermore, the novel glorifies discipline, competence, and masculinity and portrays war as a setting in which those qualities are constantly on display. Nevertheless, A Farewell to Arms opposes the thoughtless violence, massive destruction of war. It also criticizes the psychological damage that war inflicts on individuals and populations and its brutal upheaval of the lives of survivors.

I think that A Farewell to Arms just attempts to give a realistic portrayal of a terrifying and, at the time of World War I, new kind of war.


Amy: How time flies!It is almost the end of our reading club. Thank you guys for coming and communicating ideas with us. And we hope that more people will share their books to us.

Thank you!


Who is Earnest Hemingwey?
Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.


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