Narrative perspective on “a very short story” by ernst hemingway
Often times, in the heat of the moment, we are blinded by what is real and what is just an illusion. At the same time this could be as a result of one’s maturity vs. immaturity. This story by Ernst Hemingway portrays what seemed to be real love by the American solider and the European nurse however, turned out to be lust because of a lack of maturity, hegemony and quench for power. This short story will be analyzed through a narrative perspective where the setting and characters are analyzed to demonstrate the themes of real vs. illusion, maturity vs.
immaturity, hegemony and quench for power. The setting plays a key role in this story. The American solider is positioned in Europe where he meets a European nurse named Luz. They fall in love and desire to get married however, soon as the American solider returns to America, Luz is having an affair with a European major and the American solider is diagnosed with gonorrhea from a sales girl. The weather coincides with their feelings as it was hot in Padua initially just like their love, then lonely and rainy as soon as they split ways displaying their separation.
I believe that Hemingway is implying that America is still immature and young in its values and beliefs. This is because as soon as the solider returns to the States, everything goes downhill. Whereas, Europe is very mature and almost “manly” because Luz claims after meeting the European major (a “man”), that this was real love and theirs was just boy/girl love. The soldier’s relationship with Luz is a depiction of the youth of America. America is much younger and immature than Europe because they are still striving to become a major player in worldly affairs.
Thus, when the Italian major portrays himself as more of a man than the American solider, Luz is attracted to it and is depicting that America remains young and immature. Another example displaying America is still immature in its notions is because the nation still holds a stereotypical depiction of women as if the Americas think women translate love as money and rank (Major vs. Solider). There is irony to further portray the theme of reality vs. illusion and maturity vs. immaturity as the American is driving through the Lincoln Park contracted with gonorrhea.
This shows the immaturity of Americans still have as he cheated on Luz and is then riding through a pivotal American landmark. Masculine hegemony was demonstrated as the American solider, full of immaturity, first falls in love with Luz while being intoxicated and engages in an affair with her. This shows that women can easily be taken advantage of and that men are more superior. This is further demonstrated when he takes advantage of the girl back in America and contracts gonorrhea from her. It is also demonstrated by Europeans as well as the major has an affair with Luz but does not marry her at the end.
He is merely leading her on for her to be left alone at the end. These relate to the setting because the characters behave as per their societal upbringings. By the end of the story, it was money and rank which convinced Luz to be what she is and the American’s soldier’s lack of loyalty to end up being what he is. When looking at the characters, they help contribute to the overall themes of the story. He is an ordinary American solider with no rank and Luz, the European girl, is performing the duty which most girls at the time did, nursing.
They both displayed qualities of what would typically be described as “love” such as taking a night shift just to be with him and him taking temperatures so she could sleep making them seem flat (predictable characters). They both make promises to each other upon departing that they would get married. They both immaturely have affairs once separated and the promises were broken showing that they are actually round (unpredictable characters). This disloyalty portrays the shift from real love to just an illusion.
Hemingway highlights through the characteristics of these characters the truth behind many relationships and what immaturity, time, distance and poor values can do to sabotage it. What could have been real love was blinded by a lust by Luz for wealth, power and stature as the major did not end up marrying her and the American man ended up with gonorrhea. Their new found loves were actually illusions. The major demonstrates male hegemony as he symbolizes male stature, power, leadership and dominance. Unlike the American, he has rank and fulfills the stereotypical view of a “man”.
From a male perspective, this story shows the nurse cares for power and prefers the major over the solider. Male and female roles are both stereotyped in this short story. Their morals and values, interests and how they behave force them to act the way that they do. Overall, Hemingway shows elements of immaturity, illusions and stereotypes throughout the story. It is called “A Very Short Story” because their love ended extremely abruptly. The structure aids in presenting a fluid story from falling in love, to complications, to breaking up.
The final message, demonstrated through the various elements, is to illustrate the complications with young and immature love combined with male hegemony and stereotypes. Upon using the narrative analysis, the themes could be better understood. Promises and trust should be kept and it is maturity alongside the right values that will keep this intact. Because Hemingway depicts America to be foolish, he sees no hope in Americans to necessarily keep a promise. Breaking promises are usually the reasons behind wars which is the setting for this story.
If the characters stayed loyal to each other despite the long distance, Luz would be married and the American boy would not be suffering with gonorrhea. Elements of masculine hegemony such as the American solider first meeting the nurse while being drunk (sign of immaturity) and then having an affair with her as well as the girl back in America thus taking advantage of them showing the qualities of American men. Through this story, the theme of realism vs. illusion was portrayed through analyzing the setting and characters with a narrative perspective to demonstrate that lust, power, wealth and stature convince people to be what they are.