"On The American Dead In Spain" by Ernest Hemingway_
The story under the title "On the American Dead in Spain" was written by Ernest Hemingway, who was one of the most famous American novelists, short-story writer and essayist, whose deceptively simple prose style have influenced wide range of writers.
The whole story is very short and resembles a tale spoken by an old military man. So, the subject matter of the story is the recollections of the events of the war on the Spanish area where the Lincoln Battalion held for four and a half months along the heights of the Jarama River, described by the author as eulogy (of /to) those who gave their lives in the sake of the freedom. The controlling idea deduced by the author is that not a single soldier of that fight is forgotten, all of them live in the hearts of people they protected. If to revise that Hemingway visited Spain not once and liked this country, we can underline that the given idea is quite patriotic.
What concerns the text itself, it is told in the 1st person narrative, though we don’t have any obvious evidences of Hemingway’s presence, usually marked by the personal pronoun “I”. But on the other hand, we always feel as if the author narrates us the story right now, we feel how passion, sorrow and hate boils in him, as if ready to return everything to fight again: “The Spanish people will rise again as they have always risen before against tyranny.”
The narration is interlaced with descriptive, historical and lyrical passages. We can be convinced of that for example by reading the first passage of the story:
“The dead sleep cold in Spain tonight. Snow blows through the olive groves, sifting against the tree roots. Snow drifts over the mounds with small headboards. (When there was time for headboards.) The olive trees are thin in the cold wind because their lower branches were once cut to cover tanks, and the dead sleep cold in the small hills above the Jarama River. It was cold that February when they died there and since then the dead have not noticed the changes of the seasons.”
What matters here is that there are no dialogues of personages and no individual characters at all. Just the common reference to people: the dead, the Spanish people, the fascists, the Spanish peasants, the Spanish workers. This also proves the type of narration being close to the recollection.
The prevailing mood of the story is rather gloomy and sometimes lyrical, coming into more optimistic at the end. Such words as dead, die, slavery, war – make it gloomy. The sentences like “The black trees will come to life with small green leaves, and there will be blossoms on the apple trees along the Jarama River” add some lyrical tone to the narration. And the assurance of the author in the future supplements the text with some kind of the optimism.
The style of the author is colloquial, he doesn’t applies here pompous bookish words or professionalisms, as the coloquial style fully corresponds the given situation. This fact demonstrates the talent of Hemingway as an outstanding writer.
The logical structure of the text is not simple, as while reading we come across the passages of different length. The last paragraph for example consists of only one sentence. And the logical argumentation of the paragraphs needs also deep considering of the reader, as the sentences of different passages are closely combined with the certain subject line.
Among the stylistic devices used by the author we would name the repetition, which aims to stress the things important for the narrator: “For our dead are a part of the earth of Spain now and the earth of Spain can never die”, “and there is forever for them to remember them in”.
The cases of parallel construction also contain some implied sense: “Each winter it will seem to die and each spring it will come alive again.”
All in all, the story reflects the author's preoccupation with the moral self and can give food for thought to anyone who is able to think.
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