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Gender in Hemingway’s and Banks’ Short Stories Essay

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Updated: Oct 7th, 2021

Introduction

Literature as a form of art is a rather specific matter for analysis. To compare and contrast literary works it is necessary to consider the techniques the author uses for this or that aim. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to contrast and compare the techniques used by Ernest Hemingway and Russell Banks to render the topic of gender relations in society. This paper will concentrate on the analysis of the short stories “Hills like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway and “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat” by Russell Banks. The essence of the comparative analysis of these stories will lie in the techniques used by the writers to develop their characters, render the same theme of their stories and convey the tone and atmosphere of the stories as single wholes.

Comparison

To begin with, it is necessary to state that how the authors develop their characters differs in the stories under consideration. The major difference in this aspect is the fact that Ernest Hemingway introduces his characters to the story in an abrupt manner as if the readers already know these people and are familiar with their backgrounds. At the same time, Russell Banks uses the technique of a gradual, even postponed, introduction of characters into his story. Further on, the development of the readers’ knowledge about the characters and the impression made by them is also delivered in different ways. Ernest Hemingway tells the story which makes the reader feel present at the conversation of the man and the girl in the café somewhere near Barcelona. Thus, there is no need to provide any preliminary narration and explain who the characters are and what they are talking about. On the contrary, Banks makes use of substantial narration in the story that introduces the readers to the situation and gradually explains who the characters are and how are they interrelated. Thus, the different rendering of relations between sexes is observed as viewed by both authors.

Consequently, how both authors render the major topic of their stories differs as well. The main idea of both stories is the relations of sexes in society as exemplified by particular stories of specific people. However, the way Hemingway develops this topic can be described as the conversation of a couple of people who love each other but are ready to give freedom to their beloved ones: “I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to.” (Hemingway, 650) At the same time, the relations of the black man and the white woman in the story by Banks are rather binding. In other words, they both want to change each other by imposing views hostile to their outlooks of the world. For example, the woman wants the men to take up the customs and values of the white race, while the man wants her to have a baby and live following his views of life. In these points, the main difference between the writers themselves can be seen. Hemingway is famous as the supporter of freedom, while Banks always tries to eliminate the plot from the story making it a set of personal emotional, and physical experiences of individuals.

As a result, the techniques that the authors use to render the tone and atmosphere of the stories are different as well. The tone of the story by Hemingway is rather optimistic and the final scene of this work proves this. Both characters are clearly in love with each other and they are ready for whatever for their beloved ones. Their talk seems rather tense while they argue about their issues but finally, they agree on doing everything to make each other happy. As contrasted to Hemingway, Banks depicts the pessimistic and rather dull atmosphere of the story. His characters live in a trailer park home with lots of neighbors. All the inhabitants of the trailer park are rather nervous and stressed by their living conditions: “They all move slowly, heavily, as if with regret, even the child” (Banks, 115) The techniques of depicting the setting of the story with the respective words is of help to the author in creating the intended tone and atmosphere of the events in the lives of their characters. Thus, the topic of relations between sexes is viewed by Hemingway as a story with a happy end while Banks develops this topic as a hopeless struggle of opposite opinions.

Conclusion

So, to make a respective conclusion, the two stories considered are similar in the topic they are dedicated to but the means of its rendering are different. Hemingway uses abrupt character introduction and fast development to create a free-loving picture of relations between sexes and views the lives of his characters in a positive light. On the contrary, Banks is concerned with the negative sides of relations between opposite sexes, and for the creation of such an effect, he resorts to the use of narration and gradual character development that shows the slow and dull character of life. Pessimistic is also the tone and atmosphere of the story which is achieved by numerous narrations using words with negative connotations like “abortion, slowly, subsistence”. Thus, the same topic is rendered with the help of different techniques by Ernest Hemingway and Russell Banks.

Works Cited

Hemingway, E. (1927) Hills Like White Elephants. In A. Charters (6th Ed). The Story and Its Writer (2003). (pp. 647-650). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins Publications.

Banks, R. (1981) Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat. In A. Charters (6th Ed). The Story and Its Writer (2003) (pp. 115-120). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins Publications.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Gender in Hemingway's and Banks' Short Stories." October 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-in-hemingways-and-banks-short-stories/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Gender in Hemingway's and Banks' Short Stories'. 7 October.

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