t GatsbyTrevor Bender
AP Lit. and Comp
April 12th, 2001
The writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway included biographical information in their novels The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises that illuminated the meaning of the work. Although The Sun Also Rises is more closely related to actual events in Hemingway’s life than The Great Gatsby was to events in Fitzgerald’s life, they both take the same approach. They both make use of non-judgemental narrators to comment on the lost generation. This narrator allows Fitzgerlald and Hemingway to write about their own society. Fitzgerlald comments on the jaded old-wealth society of the Eastern United States and the corruption of the American Dream. Hemingway comments on the effects of World War I on the lost generation and the hope for the future in the next generation.
By adding biographical features into their novels both Fitzgerald and Hemingway are able to give their novels that extra depth because the plot of the novels are more realistic and accurately reflect the society of the times. The story in Fitzgerald’s book contains basic ideas from his life, not nessesarily actual events. Several characters have biographical characterization and the novel reflects his own experiences. Hemingway’s novel, however, is almost entirely based on actual events that happened to Hemingway and a group of his friends. This enhances the realism of The Sun Also Rises.
Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby
In his novel, The Great Gatsby Francis Scott Fitzgerald includes many autobiographical features to enhance and illuminate the themes of the work. Certain main characters like Daisy Buchannon, Jay Gatsby, and the narrator Nick Carraway are representations of actual people from Fitzgerald’s life. Fitzgerald makes use of a non-judgemental narrator to simply give the details and leave the anylasis to the reader. However, based on the details, the narrators conclusions are relatively evident. In this novel, Fitzgerald is able to write about his experiences from a different perspective and include his self in both the characters of Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway.
As in many of Fitzgerald’s works, he writes about a golden girl1), the desire of every man that he couldn’t have. In the case of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates the character of Daisy to fit this discription. In actuality the motivation for Fitzgerald’s writing about the golden girl came from real events. Ginevra King was the love of [Fitzgerald’s] young life.2) In Ginevra’s eyes, however, Fitzgerald was simply one of the many men in her young life and when it came time she dropped him.3)Most importantly, however, his rejection by Ginevra motivated much of his fiction.4) In The Great Gatsby, Daisy is shown by the end to be a very careless and confused who smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness… and let other people clean up the mess they had made.5) This statement from the novel relates to Fitzgeralds own fealings for Ginevra who used him, then dropped him when it came time leaving Francis devastated.6) This rejection shaped Fitzgeralds view of women in general and thus affected his characterization of women. The romance between Fitzgerald and Ginevra King is also given meaning in The Great Gatsby as Ginevra King and Fitzgerald himself came from different social worlds just as Daisy and young poor Gatsby did. In both situations, the woman came from the aristocratic old money rich and the guys were respectivly poor in comparison.
Fitzgerald, later in life, was from the middle class and in this way can be compared to the narrator, Nick Carraway. His social situation was the same and this perspective of the relationships between the rich and poor allowed Fitzgerald to write of his own experiences with Ginevra King. As Fitzgerald himself puts it, The whole idea of Gatsby is the unfairness of a poor young man not being able to marry a girl with money.1) An independent percpective of the relationship from the middle class allows Fitzgerald to accomplish this. Nick Carraway is the voice of Fitzgerald’s rational self.2) In expressions in the novel, Fitzgerald gives light to his rational self.
That’s my Middle West – not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns, but the
thrilling returning trains of my youth, and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty
dark and shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow. I am part of
that, a little solemn with the feel of those long winters . . . I see now that this has been a
story of the West, after all – Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all
Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly
unadaptable to Eastern life.3)
Fitzgerald himself took trains back to the Mid-West at christmas time to celebrate and party.4) In this passage Fitzgerald also tells the truth about his views of Eastern rich society, where he didn’t fit in.
It can also be argued that Fitzgerald also represents himself in the character of Jay Gatsby. In the characterization of Gatsby, Fitzgerald includes his own youthful idolizing ideals and emotions. While Daisy was clearly the symbol of Ginevra King, Fitzgerald originally based the figure of Gatsby on a stock manipulator he’d encountered in Great Neck and then let change into himself.1) Indeed, Fitzgerald didn’t really know the model of Gatsby in the early stages of the novel. It’s not until page 48 till Gatsby is actually presented in the novel after many mysterious and romantic models have already been sugested. Gatsby is prompted up with rumors that he’s the nephew of the Kaiser, or that he had been a German spy in the war, or that he went to Oxford, or even that he has killed a man. He is described with mystery and signs the invitation card with a majestic hand2). In Fitzgerald’s own words, Gatsby was never quite real to me. His original served for a good enough exterior until about the middle of the book he grew thin and I began to fill him in with my emotional life.3) Just as Nick represented Fitzgerald’s rational self, Gatsby, later in the book, represents Fitzgerald’s emotional and idealisitc views of youth left over from his rejection by Ginevra.
By interweaving his life, a special person and maybe others, and his views into The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald enhances and gives extra meaning to his work. Fitzgerald incorporates his own views through the use of a non-judgemental middle-class narrator. Unlike Gatsby, who is ignorant to the idea that he doesn’t belong in Tom and Daisy’s world, the later Fitzgerald, at the time he wrote The Great Gatsby understood through experience that the social eminence of the aristocrats could not be imitated by the lower classes no matter the amount of money aquired. Fitzgerald vividly paints a picture of the social structure from a middle class point of view. However, Fizgerald also describes his youthful romantic idealism and emotions through the ignorant and even gullible character of Gatsby. Gatsby is ignorant of what other people think of him as is shown by his loving Daisy. Also, when Mrs. Sloane invites Gatsby and Nick to come to supper Nick realizes that they are not wanted by Mr. Sloane but Gatsby doesn’t.1) Gatsby is gullible for beliving Daisy when she tells him she loved him, when it is clear to both the reader and nick that her only concern is money and wealth. When she tells him that she loved Tom too, the words seemed to bite physically into Gatsby.2) This shows the romantic idealized views of Gatsby.
Hemingway and The Sun Also Rises
Like Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway contains autobiographical features that illuminate the work and add to the meaning of the novel. However, the plot behind The Sun Also Rises is more exactly based on actual events in Hemingway’s life than The Great Gatsby was to Fitzgerald’s life. Indeed, the entire plot of The Sun Also Rises is based on an actual trip of Ernest Hemingway to Pamplona, Spain. The parallels between his actual visit and the story are unmistakable. Like Fitzgerald, Hemingway also makes use of a non-judgemental narrator, named Jake Barnes. Using this narrator, Hemingway is able to in essence tell the story as a vicarious experience of Hemingway’s own trip to Spain.
Hemingway’s first attempt at the novel started well but quickly disintegrated. This version started in Madrid with a scene in the Hotel Montoya. He decided to start with Paris and to provide biographical backgrounds for Brett Ashley, Mike Campbell, and Robert Cohn.1) These were to be based on what he knew of the recent histories of Duff Twysden, Pat Guthrie, and Harold Loeb respectively. Besides being based on real people and their fiesta in Pamplona, The Sun Also Rises also contains scenes on the Irati River. Perhaps, in his novel Hemingway portrayed the vacation on the Irati River as how he wanted to experience it. But in reality, during a trip to the Irati River, prior to taking those above named to Pamplona, The dark stream of the Irati was filled with logger’s trash2)and Hemingway and his friend Bill Smith were unable to catch a single fish after four days of trying. Ernest said, Fish killed, pools destroyed, dams broken down. Made me feel sick.3) The Irati River portreyed in The Sun Also Rises was completely different.
Beyond the fields we crossed another faster-flowing stream. A sandy road led down to
the ford and beyond into the woods. The path crossed the stream on another foot-log
below the ford, and joined the road… In the white water at the foot of the dam it was
deep. As I baited up, a trout shot up out of the white water into the falls and was carried
down. Before I could finish baiting, another trout jumped at the falls, making the same
lovely arc and disapearing into the water that was thundering down.4)
Another scene in The Sun Also Rises is the scene at the Hotel Montoya run by a Mr. Juanito Montoya. His hotel is where the bull-fighters stay and Montoya is describes as an aficianado with photographs all over his room: The photographs of bull-fighters Montoya had really believed in were framed. Photographs of bull-fighters who had been without aficion Montoya kept in a drawer of his desk… One day Montoya took them all out and dropped them in the waste-basket.1) This shows how Juanito Montoya was an aficianado who believed in the real old-style bullfighters. During Hemingway’s third trip to Pamplona his company would stay at Juanito Quinata’s Hotel Quinatana. Juanito [Quinatana] was a veteran aficionado and matadors often stayed there.2) The similarities in name are unmistakable and the character in the novel is a veteran aficianado as well.
Pedro Romero was developed as one of the main characters in The Sun Also Rises. Interestingly, Pedro was named after the famous eighteenth-century matador Pedro Romero.3) The Pedro from the novel fights in the old manner just as the real Pedro Romero would. His character however, was not based on the real Pedro, but instead a nineteen-year-old matador named Cayetano Ordonez, described as being slim and straight as an arrow.4) More importantly Ordonez, like both the Pedro from the novel and the real Pedro Romero, fought in the old manner and on several bulls he killed ‘recibiendo’ and was hailed as the Messiah who had come to save bullfighting.5) Pedro Romero was an important symbol of hope in the novel. Ordonez, thinly disquized as Pedro Romero, was beginning to dominate the book6)
Another important character in the book, Brett, was based on a real life participant in Hemingway’s Pamplona, Duff Twysden. Brett and Robert Cohn go on a trip together where they romanced together unknown to anyone else. Similarly, Harold Loeb (Robert Cohn) told Ernest that he wanted to relax by the sea at St. Jean-de-Luz before joining the others at Burgette. What he did not reveal was that he had persuaded Duff Twysden to spend a week with him in consummation of their romance.1) He didn’t tell Ernest because he was afraid that Ernest might be jealous of learning that Harold had spent a week with Duff. Brett is similar physically to Duff as well. Like Brett, she wore a man’s felt hat.2) The scene where Brett recieved the bull’s ear from Pedro actually happened, just not to her parallel Duff Twysden. Ordonez gave the ear to Hemingway’s wife Hadley. She wraped it up in a handkerchief of Don Stewart’s, and stored it in a bureau drawer at the pension. As it gradually ripened in the heat of July, Ernest argued that she must either throw it away or cut it up to send in letters to her friends in St. Louis.3) This same event happens in the novel to Brett, who is picked from the crowd by Pedro and presented with the ear as a prize.
Similarly as his counterpart Robert Cohn in the novel, Harold Loeb was treated as an outcast due to his relationship with Duff and his constant following her around. In the novel, Mike constantly brandishes Robert with remarks about how he is not wanted and how can he not see that. In Hemingway’s actual trip, Harold Loeb and Duff slipped away for a drink in one of the small cafes and ended up in a Spanish clubroom where she refused to leave and Harold was forced to leave alone. The next day over the brandy that night, Guthrie [Mike] suddenly told Harold to get out: he was not wanted.4) Ernest also exploded on him, You lousy bastard, running to a woman.
Even while in Spain, Ernest Hemingway began writing The Sun Also Rises, at that time entitled, Fiesta.5) Originally the story was started in Pamplona at the Hotel Montoya, where the characters Jake Barnes and Bill meet Pedro Romero. Later, Hemingway changed the introduction to a start with Paris to provide biographical backgrounds for Brett Ashley, Mike Campbell, and Robert Cohn.1) There is no mistaking that the novel was based on Ernest’s third trip to Pamplona with a company of his friends and his wife.
By providing biographical information in their novels The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises, both F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway are able to enhance the meaning of their work and provide extra credibility and realism into their plot. Fitzzgerald takes a rejection from his life and uses that idea to expand off from to write a social commentary on the corruption of the American Dream by the old-rich of the Eastern United States. Hemingway takes actual events from his life and used that as a basis for the plot of his novel. This enhanced the theme by describing the effect of World War I on Hemingway’s generation.