Why We Celebrate Hemingway

Keynote Address By Dr. Joseph Waldmeir
Presented at the Hemingway Birth Centennial, Petoskey, Michigan, July 25, 1999
Copyright © 1999, Joseph Waldmeir. Reproduced by permission.

‘‘Never be daunted,’” Bill Gorton says to Jake Barnes, adding that he has “‘Never been daunted in public. . . .If I begin to feel daunted I’ll go off by myself. I’m like a cat that way.’”

I feel daunted. I also feel pleased, honored, flattered, privileged to have been asked to speculate on why we, not just I, celebrate Hemingway. That is the daunting part, offering my speculations publicly to such a distinguished “WE,” an audience each of whom already knows why, and many of whom may be listening carefully just to see if I do. But I’m not like a cat, and I’m not going off by myself.

What I am going to do is stand up here and argue that that exchange between Bill and Jake in Paris from which the quote is taken, and the further exchanges between them on the Irati River in Burguette, as well as the exchanges between the Killers and George in the lunch-room, between the pregnant Catherine and Frederick in the hotel room in Milan on the night Frederick returns to the Front, between the Author and the Old Lady here and there in Death in the Afternoon, among the three Roman Soldiers in “Today Is Friday,” between Nick and himself on the Big Two-Hearted which is echoed in the exchange between the Old Man and himself on the Sea, and between the dozens of other characters in dozens of other situations in many other stories (to circle back to The Sun Also Rises, one cannot ignore the exchange between Jake and Brett at the end of that novel)--these exchanges are grabbers for that style which we celebrate Hemingway for.

To paraphrase a well-worn simplification: It’s the dialogue, stupid. Hemingway’s unique ability to make dialogue seem to look like it sounds or sound like it looks is one of the first things we notice when we come to him, and is the last thing we forget. Case in point:

I was in an undergraduate writing class with a guy, a World War II veteran like me and most of the rest of the class (somehow I think that’s important) who, when in his cups, could and would recite all of the dialogue from “The Killers.” Surprising? I don’t think so. Comical maybe, but not surprising; not to a room full of Hemingway freaks. To illustrate the point, I am going to read a snatch of dialogue from “The Killers” ending with a question that I want everybody out there to answer, loud and clear:

“‘This is a hot town,’” says one of the Killers to George. “‘What do they call it?’”
“‘Summit.’” (We know it’s Petoskey, right?)
“‘Ever hear of it?’” Al asked his friend.
“‘No,’” said the friend.
“‘What do you do here nights?’” Al asked.
And Max, the friend, responds (signal audience) “‘They all come here and eat the big dinner.’”

You see? Grabber. But only a grabber. There is much more to the celebrated Hemingway style than dialogue, though as Hemingway acknowledged in Death in the Afternoon, dialogue is something the reader expects of his work. There is the part that holds you once you have been grabbed, that seductive, hypnotic, unforgettable prose--clipped, cropped, lean and spare, overstated by being understated. Then there is the part that is unstated, unwritten, unsaid--advertently, I am not concerned with inadvertent silence. I am referring to that silence Hemingway describes in the iceberg metaphor, also from Death in the Afternoon, when he says

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of the movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

It seems clear in this quotation that Hemingway believes that style involves the reader in the story, makes him feel what the writer feels not despite but because the writer has not “stated” those feelings. One could surmise further from the quote that Hemingway believes that, if he writes “truly enough,” he can more than involve the reader, he can make him a participant in the story. Indeed, as I argued once in Oak Park in reference to “The Killers,” he can make the reader the story’s protagonist, the one participant to whom the substance is most clear, since neither Nick, George, nor the absent Ole is capable of understanding it or getting its joke.

Given this reading, at least up to the reader protagonist part, it also seems clear that style, what is said as well as what is left unsaid, is as much a grabber for substance as dialogue is for style. But while dialogue is simply subsumed by style, style is consumed by substance, by what Hemingway says, and the way he says it, and what it all adds up to. By that artistic totality for which we ultimately celebrate him.

In order to make these points clear and unarguable, I would have to write a book, which I am not inclined to do. And you would not be inclined to listen to me read it either, not over breakfast and with a bus warming up in the parking lot.

What I can do instead is compare two very different yet strangely similar stories which, with luck and if I state the argument purely enough, will be seen to represent the total body of Hemingway’s work.

One is from the beginning of his career, the other near the end of it. One was part of a collection of short stories which caused critical puzzlement and raised critical hackles, the other was a novel which won for Hemingway his highest celebratory honor, the Nobel Prize for Literature. The latter of course is The Old Man and the Sea, the former is “Big Two-Hearted River.”

Both stories are concerned with men fishing, but in the former the man is a very young American fishing trout on a river in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and in the latter a quite old Cuban is fishing for marlin in the waters of the Gulf off Cuba. The young man is a sport fisherman, the old man fishes for a living. But each is fishing for more than his catch on the day of his story. Both men fish alone, apparently by choice. Each is concerned with the how-to details of fishing successfully, and each fits this concern neatly into the how-to details of daily living, even forcing the details into a ritualistic pattern. Each ultimately faces the same hard choice, though the terms in each case are different, and each chooses the opposite of the other. But the outcome, predicted in one case, fulfilled in the other is in each case the same.

All of this leads to the itchy suspicion that the two men are very closely related--a suspicion which I would like to scratch into a certainty in this paper.

The our time of In Our Time spans the years leading up to the First World War, the war years, and the years immediately following the war into the 1920s. The main character is Nick Adams to whom everything in the book matters either directly, because he is a participant in the action (his stories begin and end the book), or indirectly, because what is happening happens during his time. For these reasons, it is necessary to look at the book as a whole before wading into “Big Two-Hearted River.”

The social cultural milieu of the pre-war years, the years in which Ernest Hemingway and Nick Adams were growing up, the time of the first six stories in In Our Time, was highly idealistic and socially activist. Its ideals were embodied in a set of almost transcendental values--truth, honor, courage, integrity, democracy, family (mother), God, etc.; its activism was motivated by the perception of social evil and the optimistic conviction that society could be cured or reformed by the pragmatic application of the transcendental values on the evils. Hence, the Muckrakers. Hence as well the anti war agitation of the Left, and, ironically, the pro-war “make the world safe for Democracy” argument of Wilson as well.

Hemingway was not a social/cultural historian like John Dos Passos or John Steinbeck. He doesn’t make the Nick Adams of these years a cultural hero or icon or martyr. In the first six up in Michigan stories, Nick is a growing boy who learns important boyhood lessons about birth and death and cowardice and tyranny and love and injustice and violence. But he is just a kid, finding out about his world while he finds himself. The values and ideals which inform the time of his time were not explicitly dealt with as a part of his growing up. But the war chapters interspersing the stories suggest that implicitly they were, and that they served as at least part of Nick’s motivation for entering the war.

The war chapters, plus the first sketch of the book, stand in ironic juxtaposition to the stories. They suggest that Nick and the World War I warriors were hoodwinked by pre-war ideals and values into believing that the war was a just and honorable cause. And the chapters are devoted to proving that they were wrong, that the ideals and values that got them into the war were learned from parents and teachers and other “idealists,” not earned by their own experience; that they were illusions, not reality and were therefore easily shattered by the dirty, bloody, painful actualities of war.

Hemingway shatters the illusions by portraying the horror of the actualities with a cold, bitter cynicism which ironically emphasizes the horror by distancing us from it.

Thus, we are informed as a matter of fact that women were having babies, many of them stillborn, on the quai and in the hold of the ship docked at Smyrna, and that “there were plenty of nice things floating around” in the harbor, including mules with their forelegs broken. “It was all a pleasant business. My word yes a most pleasant business.” And we learn in Chapter III that Allied soldiers “potted” Germans as they came over a garden wall in Mons; and in Chapter IV that they “potted” them as they climbed a barricade across a bridge. “It was absolutely topping . . . . We were frightfully put out when . . . we had to fall back.” We learn in Chapter VII that war can make cowards of us all, and that in our fright we may appeal to any pre-war value to save us: “Christ please please please christ,” the frightened soldier prays. “If you’ll only keep me from getting killed I’ll do anything you say.” But he doesn’t keep his promise, and he never confesses his cowardice “. . . he never told anybody” about the prayers. And before this, in Chapter VI, we learn that a wounded Nick, like Frederick Henry, declares “a separate peace.” But he declares it simply, quietly (“Senta Rinaldi. Senta”) without Henry’s disillusioned diatribe (“Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene . . . .) Simply, quietly and in the context of the other chapters, more effectively, I think.

The Nick Adams stories to which these chapters are juxtaposed are similar to the chapters in subject matter, but quite different in tone, at least until the last of them, “A Very Short Story.” Without the scathing irony that characterizes the chapters, the stories portray Nick learning about birth and death in “Indian Camp,” learning that his father may be a coward and his mother a tyrant, that nothing, not even love, either ends or continues as you perceive or plan it, that justice is far from just, and that controlled violence may be the only solution to insoluble problems. “A Very Short Story” is a seemingly simple story about a returned soldier who gets a Dear John letter from his wartime girlfriend back in Italy, so he gets even by catching the clap from a shop girl in a taxicab. But the apparent simplicity of the story belies its complex function in the text as a transition piece. In its coldly ironic tone, it ties the pre-war stories and the war chapters together, and at he same time, prepares the way for the book to move into the post-war world via the story of another returned veteran, Harold Krebs.

Krebs comes home from the war to his small town in Oklahoma in 1919, having fought at Belleau Wood, Soissons, San Mihiel, and the Argonne. The time of the town is still the pre-war years, complete with pre-war ideals and values, principles and beliefs. None of these any longer apply in Krebs’s time which has been severely altered by the war. The pre-war world is an anachronism in his time, and though he is cajoled, threatened, begged, he can’t and won’t return to it. Krebs’ mother tries to drag him back home by calling up the pre-war values and forcing him to face them. She hits him with all the big ones--God, prayers, work, Mother, love--but Krebs doesn’t crumple. “‘Don’t you love your mother, dear boy?’” she says, playing her ace; and in the ultimate moment of truth, Krebs says “‘No . . . . I don’t love anybody.’” And with that negative, the old values die and the post-war world, the time of the lost generation, is born. The fact that his mother forces Krebs to recant with cloying sentimentalism only makes the negative more positive. Krebs lights out for his own territory.

It is an entropic, topsy-turvy, chaotic territory without certainties, without ideal (the war had made them illusions, then dissed them), and with relative, not transcendent values. It is the time of Jake Barnes thinking “I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it.” It is the time of the cat in the rain who feels misplaced and, unlike Krebs, wants to go home again, home to the pre-war time, wants “‘to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring and I want to brush my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty . . . .’” But it’s too late; all that is past and gone. “‘Oh, shut up and get something to read,’” George tells her. Don’t be daunted by the rain of our time, bob-hair cat, crawl under the table of a book to stay safely dry. It is the time of the quarreling couple in Italy who hire the tippling Peduzzi to take them trout fishing out of season, in a time out of joint. Nothing is square in the story; nothing balances. Everything appears to be adjusted by Peduzzi to fit the circumstances--the bait, the food, the time of day, the fishing spot on the river, the cost--everything except the lead shot which is absolutely essential to fish the fast water. Therefore, they can’t fish at that time, so they agree to go again in the early morning and the young man gives Peduzzi one lire less that he asks for to arrange things, then announces that he will “‘probably not’‘” be going. The only certainty in our time is uncertainty. Peduzzi is tuned in to this time; Peduzzi exists from lira to lira. “This was living,” he thinks. “Life was opening out.” It is the time of Boyle and Drevitts who, in Chapter VIII immediately following “Soldier’s Home,” introduce a violence more mindless even that that of war into the chaos of our post-wartime. They are two cops who catch two Hungarian thieves escaping in a truck after robbing a cigar store. Boyle shoots and kills both of them, and Drevitts says he shouldn’t have done it because “‘There’s liable to be a hell of a lot of trouble.’” “‘They’re wops, ain’t they?’” Boyle answers. “‘Who the hell is going to make any trouble?’” “‘How did you know they were wops when you bumped them?’” Drevitts asks, and Boyle normalizes the topsy-turviness of our time with “‘Wops . . . I can tell wops a mile off.’” And it is the time of the boy Joey who says at the end of “My Old Man”: “ . . . I don’t know. Seems like when they get started they don’t leave a guy nothing.” ‘They’ could be Boyle and Drevitts, or ‘they’ could be the time itself which makes Boyle and Drevitts possible. In any event, Joey’s old man is dead, and ‘they’ are responsible, and there’s nothing Joey or anyone else can do about it. And it is the time of Sam Cardinella whose chapter is a chunk of our time’s harsh reality wedged between the two pastoral halves of “Big Two-Hearted River”: Sam Cardinella loses control of his sphincter muscle and his legs and must be set on a chair in his own shit while they hang him.

Which brings us to the time of the second coming of Nick Adams, grown to manhood, back from the war, back in Michigan, alone, searching through Nature and by fishing for a way to exist with dignity and honor in the time of Boyle and Drevitts and Krebs’ mother. “Big Two-Hearted River” is unlike any other post-war story in In Our Time. It is an upper ending to a downer book. And Nick is very different from other characters in the stories. He doesn’t try to escape his time either literally or nostalogically; nor does he adapt to it. But he does enter into it, trying to find a way to cope with even to control it. The balance of the Jake Barnes quote that was cited above could apply to him: “Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about.”

Maybe. But even if you don’t, if you try to as Nick does, you move leaps beyond Krebs or the cat or even Joey toward that affirmation which Hemingway is ultimately all about and which is truly why we celebrate him.

I don’t want to get into an extended discussion of the story. There isn’t time, and I have already done that as have most of us here. But I do want to touch on those aspects of it which seem to me to support the argument made in this paper.

Nick, like Krebs, comes home from the war unwounded (there is no mention of a wound in the story, and I am convinced if Hemingway wanted one there, he’d have put it there; he was big on wounds; whenever there were any available, he made use of them) comes home to the same pre-war post-war world as Krebs, and he suffers the same social-cultural trauma. But while Hemingway portrays Krebs’ world realistically, factually, he treats Nick’s figuratively. The burnt-over woods and plain around Seney are a wasteland metaphor for Krebs’ post-war world, a world of discredited values and exploded ideals out of the pre-war past, a world which Krebs must escape from.

However, Nick enters the wasteland determined to cross it, and it is here that his story takes a different direction. “Seney was burned, the country was burned over and changed . . . it did not matter,” he thinks. “It could not all be burned. He knew that.” Nick believes that something of value remains out of the pre-war past. What it is and how to find it is approached in another metaphor. As he crosses the darkling plain toward the river he sees “the far blue hills . . . faint and far away in the heat light over the plain. If he looked too steadily they were gone. But if he only half-looked they were there, the far-off hills . . . .” The hills, the old values are there, but like the Holy Grail, they can only be perceived by the questing knight if he doesn’t look directly at them.

Thus, the hills, along with the river, constitute a counter metaphor to the burnt-over wasteland. They stand not only for what of the pre-war past “could not all be burned,” but also for the promise and hope of the future, provided you move toward it. As if to reinforce this point, Nick rests against a charcoal stump and examines a blackened grasshopper, an adapted denizen of the wasteland. Examines, then releases it back to the burnt-over habitat, and takes himself across the fireline away from those who adapt to that post-war time, toward the river.

He sets up his camp site carefully, and describes in meticulous detail how to pitch his tent so perfectly that it is “the good place” “mysterious and home-like,” where “nothing could touch him” when he is inside it. Pitches it so perfectly that it becomes yet another metaphor in this metaphor driven story--becomes a womb, where it is lighter inside than it is outside, and from where this Nick, this new man can burst into his time hungrily, hungrier than he had ever been before.

So he eats. A can of beans and a can of spaghetti mixed together with a comic bravado. If he went to the trouble to carry them he thinks, he has the right to eat them anyway he wants. And fixing the food and eating it his way becomes “a very fine experience.” Not so with the coffee which he brews immediately after eating. It is a bitter failure, only because it is made in the way that an erstwhile friend named Hopkins made it rather than in Nick’s own way. Nick laughs, and dumps “the coffee according to Hopkins” out, and comments that “It made a good ending to the story.” And it does. Both literally and figuratively, the episode is an upbeat, positive verification of the conclusion implicit in all Nick’s actions after crossing the fire line: That whatever he does he must do his way, by the numbers, by himself, if it is to work well and truly or even just satisfactorily. Nick proceeds from that conclusion in Part II of the story. He makes his breakfast coffee his way, not Hopkins’; he describes in detail how and when to catch grasshoppers for bait, how to thread and test his fly rod, how and with what equipment to enter the stream, how to release properly, with moistened hand, a too small trout. He tells us how he gambles to hook a big one--”By God, the biggest one I ever heard of”--then loses him, and goes back to fishing for keepers successfully because he does so properly.

Fishing properly is the overriding metaphor in this story. It is a form of therapy for Nick, helping him to cope with his time, to find out, as Jake Barnes puts it “how to live in it.” Nick fishes downstream, miles and ages beyond the war, beyond the wasteland, beyond his time. But he also fishes toward some things, toward the swamp and the uncertainty of his future as well as toward the far blue hills, that part of the past, those pre-war values and ideals that “could not all be burned.” Toward finding out, in Jake’s terms, “what it was all about.”

But Nick is not yet ready. He has found out as much as he wants to or needs to on this trip. He has found value and order in proper performance of function, but he has also learned that if you gamble on that basis, there’s a good chance that you will lose. So when he gets to the swamp, his future, Nick decides against fishing it that day. He doesn’t want another “tragic adventure” like losing that big one; he does “not want to go down the stream any further today.” Instead he carefully kills and cleans his catch, detailing every step in the procedure meticulously, then returns to camp satisfied, contented, knowing that “There were plenty of days coming when he could fish the swamp.”

This sort of positive negativism--I don’t want to do it now, but I know it must be done and I’ll do it later--is what distinguishes “Big Two-Hearted River” from the other largely negative stories in In Our Time, while at the same time forming the nucleus of that affirmation which develops throughout Hemingway’s future work and for which we celebrate him. It is an affirmation of the individual as the single trustworthy unit in an instable society, of self-reliance in an almost nineteenth century sense--one must not rely on anything outside oneself, neither this-worldly nor other-worldly, to find how to live, or die, in this world. It is an affirmation of the validity of any values, including those rejected by Krebs and Frederick Henry, provided they are earned, not learned.

It is an affirmation which reaches its fulfillment in the story which picks up where “Big Two-Hearted River” ends, which is concerned with what happens when you do fish the swamp. If it sounds like I am going to treatThe Old Man and the Sea as the third coming of Nick Adams, I am. Because it is. It is as if an older Nick, a Nick as old as the Nick of “Big Two-Hearted” had been young, had decided that it was time to tie up loose ends, to fill in gaps, to clarify. Had decided that it was time to revisit that critical moment at the swamp and face the answers to the questions that had to have been nagging at him all his life and not be daunted by them: Questions like, what would the tragic adventure have been like and how would he have come out of it had he lived it?

The novel takes the necessary step beyond the story on all levels, and becomes the answer to those questions.

As it opens, the Old Man is in a pastoral interlude similar to the one Nick is in between his wasteland and the stream, except that the Old Man had Manolin for company. He has just finished 84 impotent days upon his wasteland--the sea, not burnt-over forest. It represents a personal, internal test for the Old Man, not the external, impersonal, detached “time” which Nick faces and must cope with after the trauma of war. But both Nick and the Old Man believe that his is not a total wasteland; that it could not all be burned, and that there are fish left in the sea.

The young man crosses then leaves his wasteland behind, fishing the stream toward answers which he pulls up short of facing because they are dangerous and painful. The Old Man conversely, knowing that the answers are to be found only in the wasteland, plunges back into it day after day determined to face them regardless of the risk. Both men go it alone, without outside help or advice. But Nick is alone to begin with so he has no choice, while the Old Man has the boy, Manolin, pleading to go out with him, and he has a belief in God to pray to for help, something that Nick does not acknowledge. But the Old Man knows when he rows away that on this 85th day he must fish into the tragic adventure, and that he must do it alone if he is to have any chance to succeed, or fail. So he rejects the boy’s offer with thanks, and he refuses to appeal for other worldly help with any seriousness even at the height of his titanic struggle with his great fish, offering to say “a hundred Our Fathers and a hundred Hail Marys” if God will help him to endure, but adding “I cannot say them now. Consider them said . . . I’ll say them later.” And he blames neither God nor his failure to keep his promise nor his refusal to bring Manolin when he loses to the sharks; asking himself what beat him, he answers “Nothing . . . I went out too far.” I went out too far.

Such a stubborn self-reliance is consistent with the values which Hemingway and the Old Man had built up over a lifetime beginning with Nick’s honesty in admitting that he was certain he would lose anything he hooked if he fished the swamp--the values of courage, honesty, honor, pride, humility, love, and acceptance of responsibility for who you are and what you do. All of these values are explicitly claimed by the Old Man. Plus how you do it. The details of procedure were, as we have seen, very important to Nick; but they are even more important for the Old Man since it is his intention on this 85th day to go out too far, in effect to fish the swamp, and face whatever tragic consequences that might bring. So whatever preparations he makes must be correctly, accurately, well and truly made. We are fed details from the moment he gets into the boat, but the most important ones are those which describe how he prepares his equipment, how he baits his hooks, at what depth he fishes each line, etc., and how he carefully, painstakingly, patiently sets the hook in his great fish. And by this time, we have come to understand that the procedure has become a ritual and the ritual has been elevated to a value--indeed, at one point the Old Man calls proper performance of function a “duty:” it is no longer merely how you do a thing any more, it is how you must do it.

Because he has the courage to fish the swamp, and the skill to do it perfectly, the Old Man does hook and fight and land the biggest marlin he has ever seen. But the great fish drags him deeper into the swamp and into the tragedy inherent in the adventure. For he can never bring the fish out and he knows that; the sharks are an inevitable consequence of killing the fish with the harpoon.

The whole drama is played out on the figurative as well as the literal level. “Big Two-Hearted” had used a wide range of metaphors; by the time he wrote about the Old Man, Hemingway had decided that less is more, and focussed almost exclusively on one: the figure of Christ as metaphor for the inevitable loss of the struggle as well as for the inevitable victory which is a result of the loss.

At times the metaphor associates Christ with the fish, which is hooked at noon and killed at noon of the third day by a spear-like harpoon driven into its heart. At other times, Hemingway parallels Christ with the Old Man: he has a blinding headache, his back is scourged by the line, he spits up blood, and he calls aloud, “‘Ay,’” about which Hemingway comments “There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just such a noise as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hand and into the wood.”

This shifting of the symbolism between man and fish, between the killer and the killed--at one point, the Old Man says “You are killing me fish . . . . Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who”--is perfectly consistent in the context of eucharistic liturgy. And when the Old Man as priest sacrifices his great fish with the harpoon, we have reached the climax of the novel on all its levels.

The meaning of the story for the Old Man and the reader--what we used to call its denouement--comes in the next episode after the first shark has partaken of 40 pounds of the sacrificed marlin and the Old Man has harpooned him to death as well. Feeling the intense pain of loss “When the fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit,” and knowing that the blood will bring more sharks, he wishes he had never hooked the great marlin. But immediately, as at a moment of grace, the Old Man understands and is able to say to us and to himself what the whole “tragic adventure” had been about and what it all means. He understands that if you go out too far, as he did, or in too far, as Nick does not do at the swamp, there is no way you can win any more than part of the battle, and that ultimately you will lose even that. But that, sooner or later, you have to do it. For the only thing that matters is the battle itself, how you wage it and how you lose it, with what courage and dignity and honor.

And he says all this aloud, as if he is talking directly to himself or to Nick or to the reader. “‘But man is not made for defeat . . . . A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’”

And there it is, the answer to the daunting question this paper began with, why we celebrate Hemingway, expressed in the simplest possible words by Hemingway’s most uncomplicated character. It qualifies as another grabber, yeah; but it’s also much more than a grabber, in the same way that Jake’s ironic “‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’” is more than simply a grabber, or Catherine Barkley’s nose-thumb at death “‘I’m not a bit afraid. It’s just a dirty trick,’” or the 1st Roman Soldier’s praise of the crucified Christ “‘He was pretty good in there today’” are more than merely grabbers. They communicate something beyond themselves about the stories in which they appear.

“‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated’” is what the novel is about, what it means. It’s what the Old Man and his monster marlin are about. And finally, ultimately, it’s what Hemingway was about.

A toast--To the two old men and their great fish; they were pretty good in there today.

Happy birthday, Ernest