Hemingway vs. Faulkner by JESSICA KOBILAS

Hemingway vs. Faulkner by Jessica Kobilas

Ernest Hemingway, the author of “Hills Like White Elephants” and “A Farewell to Arms,” and William Faulkner, the author of “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning,” both use rhetorical strategies to tell stories to their general audience. All of the stories took place between the time periods of the 19th century and 20th century. The passages use rhetorical strategies such as a similar tone, ambiguity, and sentence structure and use of description. They use similar morose and solemn tones to create a mysterious story line and setting. Ambiguity is also commonly used to make the reader contemplate the plot line and characters. Both of the authors use ambiguity and do not reveal the main idea of the story. The writing styles of Hemingway and Faulkner differ while also seem similar in ways such as that Hemingway uses short sentence structure and Faulkner uses complex sentences. However, they both use a lot of description and use a lot of context behind their words. Faulkner and Hemingway use similar and different rhetorical strategies because of their use of ambiguity, tone, and writing style.

Faulkner and Hemingway have both similar and different uses of ambiguity. Ambiguity is used in complex ways in “A Rose for Emily” and “Hills Like White Elephants.” Both authors are similar in using this rhetorical technique because they are very vague in the narration of the stories and they leave the readers pondering about what the main idea of the story is. In “A Rose for Emily” by Faulkner, the author narrates, “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 511). Faulkner ends the story with this sentence, gives a vague and unclear closure for the reader to interpret what happened, and does not include any details as to what the sentence means in the passage. It is not clear as to what the iron-gray hair has to do with the story after reading it and thinking about it. Similarly, in “Hills Like White Elephants” by Hemingway, he narrates, “‘It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,’ the man said. ‘It’s not really an operation at all’” (Hemingway 596). Hemingway does not specify what the operation is or what it is for. He is very ambiguous when he does not subtly say the main idea of his story and leaves everything in context for the reader to find out for themselves. Both authors do not reveal certain aspects or are ambiguous in their writing. The difference of ambiguity between Faulkner and Hemingway is that Faulkner uses more description than Hemingway does. Faulkner leaves clues for the reader to find out the underlying context. For instance, in “A Rose for Emily,” Faulkner tells the reader the story of Emily such as how her father died, the town smelling a foul odor emanating from her property, and buying arsenic, etc. The author leaves evidence that may not be clear to understand until the whole story is read. Conversely, in “Hills Like White Elephants,” Hemingway does not leave any indications of the fact that Jig is pregnant and they are talking about an abortion. In the dialogue between Jig and the American, Hemingway does not suggest anything about pregnancy, and the reader could only assume that it is an operation that is very common and can lead to happiness (Hemingway 596). The fact that the operation is common and can lead to happiness is very ambiguous because it is uncertain of what the operation actually is. Hemingway and Faulkner have similarities and differences with the use of ambiguity.

Hemingway and Faulkner have similarities and differences with tone in their stories. In “Barn Burning” and “Hills Like White Elephants,” the tone was very morose and solemn. In “Barn Burning,” Faulkner writes, “The cheese which he knew he smelled and the hermetic meat which his intestines believed he smelled coming in intermittent gusts momentary and brief between the other constant one, the smell and sense just a little fear because mostly of despair and grief, the old fierce pull of blood” (Faulkner para. 1). Faulkner uses a very morose tone in this sentence because of the word choice he uses to describe the threatening and hopeless situation in the setting that the characters are currently in. In the first paragraph, the tone describes how the rest of the story is going to flow and describes the emotion the reader receives from reading it and whether the story is going to be more entertaining or more solemn. The mysterious and solemn tone is similar to Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” because it says, “‘And we could have this,’ she said. ‘And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.’ ‘What did you say?’ ‘I said we could have everything.’ ‘No, we can’t.’ ‘We can have the whole world.’ ‘No, we can’t.’” (Hemingway 597). Hemingway uses dialogue to make the tone more solemn and make the text and context intense. He applies it to the passage to make the storyline and the dialogue between the American and Jig sound very serious and it makes it seem like the couple do not really have any hope when the American rejects everything she says. The American believes that the best way to be happy is to have an abortion and this makes the story seem very serious. Hemingway and Faulkner use solemn and morose as the tones for their story as a rhetorical strategy.

Faulkner and Hemingway have both similar and different writing styles in the sense of sentence structure and description. Hemingway uses a lot of dialogue and writes in a very short sentence structure while Faulkner uses a lot of description and writes in long and complex sentences. For example, in “A Rose for Emily” by Faulkner it says, “When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sunray” (Faulkner 506). Faulkner uses long and complex sentences to describe the setting of the story and applies the descriptions to create imagery for the reader. His writing style is effective because it tells the story in a visionary way. Conversely, Hemingway’s writing style is very short and he uses a lot of dialogue in his writing. For instance, in “A Farewell to Arms” it says, “She was unclasping something from her neck. She put it in my hand. “It’s a Saint Anthony,” she said. “And come to-morrow night” (Hemingway 43). Compared to Faulkner, Hemingway uses dialogue to create the scene in the book. He does not fully describe the situation or the setting like Faulkner does and is very pithy in his writing because he is very straightforward and brief in explaining the situation whereas, Faulkner can describe a situation or a setting in a very long and imaginative way. However, Hemingway’s use of dialogue and short sentences can be descriptive in a way that does not seem tedious or repetitive. The writing styles of Hemingway and Faulkner are different in the way that Hemingway uses short sentences and Faulkner uses complex ones. They are similar in writing styles in the way they describe a situation. For example, in “A Farewell to Arms” it says,

Once in camp I put a log on top of the fire and it was full of ants. As it commenced to burn, the ants swarmed out and went first toward the centre where the fire was; then turned back and ran toward the end. When there were enough on the end they fell off into the fire. Some got out, their bodies burnt and flattened, and went off not knowing where they were going. But most of them went toward the fire and then back toward the end and swarmed on the cool end and finally fell off into the fire. (Hemingway 328)

Hemingway’s short sentence structure is similar to Faulkner’s because of the use of symbolism and ambiguity. Hemingway tells a short anecdote of the ants and the fire which symbolized or was ambiguous for Henry’s experiences thus far. Henry was waiting for Catherine when she was about to pass away. Henry felt like there was nothing he could do and be compared to the ants that he described. This use of description is similar to Faulkner’s because in “A Rose for Emily,” he uses a similar kind of description like Hemingway does. “She was sick for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows—sort of tragic and serene” (Faulkner 507). The narrator points out Emily’s appearance as time passes by and her appearance drastically changes as soon as the mood of the story changes. This ambiguity and symbolism is similar to Hemingway’s because it is a way to describe the scene of the story in a different way. The description of the situation seems vague and is not straightforward to understand because the narrator’s description of Emily foreshadowed the fact that something unexpected was to come. Henry’s description of the ants and his experiences foreshadowed this as well. Faulkner and Hemingway are very similar in their use of writing styles because of the way they describe situations.

Faulkner and Hemingway use both similar and different rhetorical strategies because of their use of ambiguity, tone, and writing styles. They are similar in the sense of using ambiguity and using clues in their writing for the reader to think about the story more. They are similar in their tone because they both use the same gloomy and morose tone to shape the story. Their writing styles are different because Hemingway writes in very short sentences while Faulkner writes in long and complex sentences. However, their use of description is similar. These rhetorical strategies are applied in all of their pieces of work and are effective.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily." 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. By Samuel Cohen.

New York: Bedford/St.Martin's, n.d. 505-11. Print.

Faulkner, William. "Barn Burning." 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. By Samuel Cohen. New

York: Bedford/St.Martin's, n.d. N. pag. Print.

Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. N.p.: Beta Nu, 2012. Print.

Hemingway, Ernest. "Hills Like White Elephants." 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. By Samuel

Cohen. New York: Bedford/St.Martin's, n.d. 595-98. Print.

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