Ernest Hemingway's underlying attitude towards Gertrude Stein in "A Moveable Feast"

Essay by gurlnthecurl13High School, 11th gradeA, January 2007

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"Miss Stein, The Rustic Hag"

Although Ernest Hemingway sees Gertrude Stein as a mentor and motherly figure, he mainly portrays her as a self-righteous, domineering, and critical woman. In the beginning, Hemingway described Gertrude Stein as cordial and friendly with "beautiful eyes and a strong German-Jewish face" which reminded him of a "peasant woman". These physical descriptions of Gertrude, by Hemingway, can be interpreted as his conception of her being an old, matronly-unwed and childless-woman. Including this, and even though Gertrude Stein helped immerse Hemingway into the writing scene and coach him as his writing mentor, Gertrude Stein was still characterized as an incredibly critical old matriarch-hag. Gertrude consistently made excessively opinionated accusations of Hemingway's "lost generation"; calling them criminals and perverts who only partake in "the pleasure of corruption" and striving towards leading everyone around them to the hedonistic lifestyle of drinking and drugs. She also declared other "inaccrochable" writers of Hemingway's age as corrupters, vicious, pitiful, and sick.

Gertrude was extraordinarily domineering and condescending.

Throughout the three chapters (Miss Stein's Instructions, Une Generation Perdue, and A Strange Enough Ending), Gertrude Stein asserted to Hemingway that he "knew nothing" of the corruption that has seeped through the men of his generation, declared he read "inflated trash-by a dead man", and insisted that he has "no respect for anything". This continuous bashing of Hemingway's, and his peer's, intelligence, opinion, and character reveals Gertrude's own condescending nature and perceived superiority. In the end, Hemingway comes to the realization the Gertrude Stein "is nice...but she does talk a lot of rot"; and, overall, Hemingway does respect Gertrude Stein's opinion-since she was a successful writer-but he does not either follow or believe in her critical and overbearing beliefs.