Hemingway and the Reality of American Society

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Not only is Ashley in Spain but Cohn is as well. Cohn arranges for his friends Barnes, Campbell, and Bill Gorton to go on a fishing trip together. This guys trip flusters Ashley knowing someone may slip up and reveal Cohn and Ashley were in San Sebastion together, hurting not only her fiancé but of course Barnes. Cohn decides last minute to stay in San Sebastion with Ashley and Campbell.

Barnes and Gorton decide to still go on the fishing trip, and the two guys spend the following five days having a good time fishing and of course drinking. When their trip is over, they decide to meet up with Cohn, Campbell and Ashley in Pamplona (Hemingway). The group gathers and decides to go drink and watch the bull fights. The group of friends are joined together watching the bulls when Cohn feels the need to stir up Campbell, who is already quite drunk, making a snarky remark about the affair between him and Ashley but Campbell admits he was already aware.

This causes a brawl between the two men. Later that following evening, Ashley makes yet another foolish mistake, flirting with a very young bullfighter, Pedro Romero (Hemingway). Making hast comments about his “tight green trousers”. Ashley continuously s finding herself in need of help because of the child-like decisions towards boys she is recurringly making. That same evening at a bar, Cohn is frustrated and aggressively takes out Barnes and Campbell. He finds Romero with Ashley in bed and proceeds to beat him as well.

Barnes is aware of Ashley’s common behavior as Cohn is not, reason being why Barnes is calm about Ashley’s actions. Ashley later falls in love with the bullfighter Romero, not minding she is already engaged to Campbell. She calls to Barnes for help claiming she does not know what to do. Barnes goes to see Ashley and she tells him how she feels and what she has done. She then realizes she should leave Romero as it is better for the both of them that way (Wagner). Her actions throughout the novel continuously show how lost she is within her mind.

Falling in and out of love with men who act like boys, and drinking as if it were her hobby (Donaldson). Barnes keeps her sane and tries to help guide her to make wise decisions. He is always the first to jump to her side even if the reason is only so she has a person to lean on or confide to. Hemingway makes her character in the novel clear she is aware Barnes is in love with her, as is she, but she selfishly decides she will not be with a man who can not provide sexual actions. His perception of women again shows he thought women were confused and lost.

Ashley informs Barnes she has decided to settle down and commit to Campbell, although she still loves Barnes. The two of them spend their evening together enjoying one another’s company. But Barnes had also committed to himself. While in Spain, Barnes comes to the realization he can not continue being hopelessly in love with someone who will not commit to be with him (Wagner).

Barnes and Ashley’s doomed relationship is a symbol for their destructiveness related to war. The two never chose to be with each other but they were always together. Although Barnes never fought for Ashley, he was a kind character built of good morals always quick to jump to Ashley’s side whenever she called out for him. Ashley was a loving character to say the least. She needed to find herself and become aware of how to love herself. Hemingway creates an honest outlook on the American society in the twenties. He proves they were more than “the lost generation”.


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Hemingway and the Reality of American Society. (2021, May 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/hemingway-and-the-reality-of-american-society/

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