Elements of Myth and Folklore in Hemingway's stories

Essay by mitanalA, May 2005

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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 extremes of one energy. Life is the active force and death is the inactive force, but they cannot be separated. Thus, they are two aspects of one reality. When people are reading about living beings and mythological beings or those who are dead, they view the word of the dead as a living world.

The dead eat, sleep and move. In the book the Hero in Hemingway's short stories, J. DeFalco points out that: " in the Myth there are usually three dominant movements which are cyclic in pattern. They are the departure of the hero, the initiation, and the return from heroic adventure." (17). The movements of the hero to the world where mythological beings dwell called passage. Usually, the boat, which carries heroes, travels over the river from one bank to another. So, in the myth there is a clear boundary.

However, there are no clear boundaries in fables between the real world and the unreal world. A being of a fable usually has magic powers and dwells on earth in close relationship to humans. They live in the primeval forest and contact...