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Elements Of Myth And Folklore In Hemingway's Stories

1927 words - 8 pages

Human dignity, morality, and the formation of human individuality through mental strife and the struggle against nature are often themes of Hemingway. In my research paper I will show how elements of folklore, myth, and fables support these themes in the stories "The Old Man and the Sea," "Indian Camp," "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." Through comparative analysis of these stories' underlying themes I will address initiation experiences of his heroes and we will turn to the ceremonies and customs of ancient people.Humans cope with the complexity of the world by developing simple mental models based on opposite parts. Life and death are together, two ...view middle of the document...

Hemingway's works are based on the cradle of human race and nature. In his stories are found elements of folk traditions. One being is an initiation ceremony that exists in all historically known societies that marks the passage from one social or religious status to another. As well as in myth this ceremony exists in folklore. In the world literary tradition, unusual circumstances surround the birth and adolescence of an epic hero, such as Hercules and Ilya of Murom. Before they become warriors who are personally liable for their nations, they have to get unusual characters through the initiation ceremony. According to Joseph DeFalco, "Individuals have certain notions derived from social customs... the nature of experience rarely allow the sensitive individuals to remain excluded in infantilism for long, however, and willingly or unwillingly the individual is eventually thrust into the world of experience and forced to deal with it."(23)In the encyclopedia the initiation ceremony is defined as:The transition and attendant ceremonies, such as ordeals and rites, involved in passing from one state or status to another, often from childhood to adulthood. It was among the most important social institutions of early humans. The ordeal measures the initiate's worthiness to enter the new status. Initiation may mean the cessation of contact with those who have not been initiated. Seclusion, mutilation, symbolic representation of death and resurrection, the display of sacred objects, special instruction, and restrictions on the initiate are frequent attributes of the ceremonies. Many early societies had puberty initiations. Their purpose was to induct the young person both into the full status of an adult and into the religion of the group.In the short story Indian Camp, It seems to be an initiation into the process of life and death; the Nick goes through the initiation ceremony that includes the telling of tribe's customs that might be known by adults or consecrated people. Thus, the boy's father teaches his son how a woman delivers a baby. His story style resembles an initiation of mythological hero, "... What she is going through is called being in labor. The baby wants to be born and she wants it to be born. All her muscles are trying to get the baby born. That is what happening when she screams." (Hemingway, The Nick Adams Stories, 17).Symbolically, the journey across the lake is reminiscent of a hero crossing a river when he goes to the other world. " They walked up from the beach through a meadow that was soaking wet with dew... Then they went into the woods and followed a trial ..." (17) The initiation ceremony was executed before puberty, the fact that the boy is a small child, and for such a ceremony " the guide figure" takes the "immature hero" to the place where the rites of passage will happen. In the story, the guide figure is the boy's father, "he protectively has his arm around Nick" (DeFalco 29). Many other rituals and symbols in the...

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