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Re: Final assignment

on Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:30 pm
Tianyi (Fred) Niu wrote: I guess I'm going with question 4. This question interests me because I believe there are so many plausible allusions that could be tied with the ants and fire.

First of all, the ants could represent the men fighting in the war. The log, the perfect shelter for ants, represents the ideal homeland, Italy, before war came along. Ants could live happily in the log, protected from all the harms and perils of the outside world, and so could the men. Throwing the log on fire can be compared to war raging in Italy. These men, watching their homeland burn in flames became enraged, a voice in their mind tells them to fight, fight for everything they have ever known. And they did indeed, so did the ants. They all swarmed to fight the fire, to fight the war with high morale, but only to turn back defeated. The ants realized that they were never going to save their homeland, and the men of Italy realized that they were fighting a war that could never be won. In the end, both were defeated and compelled to turn back. The ants had to escape the heat of the fire, and the men had to escape the heat of the war. I do agree with Cathy that "I" here represents fate. Fate could have easily saved the Italians, yet it sent in the Germans, like how I poured a cup of water into the flames. The Germans helped steam the doomed Italian army, the men that is already on the verge of inevitable demise because of Austria-Hungary. Whereas the water steamed the ants that would soon be boiled by the flames.
Another understanding is that the ants represent the spirits of the Italian army men (or their morale), rather than their physical bodies. Ants in the log is comparable to the high spirits of the men before the war, living a happy and stable life. Then came the war, the fire. The men's morale, eager to rush to their bitter adversaries. The ants, eager to rush to the center of the fire. After realizing that there was no chance of victory, the ants withdrew. So did the men's morale. They became disillusioned just like the ants, and wondered about without an aim. Finally, fate poured a cup of water onto men's morale, which streamed their morale even further. As with the entrance of the Germans.

In conclusion, I believe this paragraphs relates closely to the characters of the novel and the plot. It could be said that the ants and fire acts like a summery of the war in the novel. Yes, a recap. Like Jamin said, it's odd for Hemingway to suddenly write down this paragraph that seems so "incompatible" with his usual writing style. Such an oddity forces the reader to think about alternative means or explantations possible for this out-of-place paragraph. Iceberg theory in it's fullest glory.

I'm partly agree with your opinion, on the ants represents the physical bodies of the Italian soldiers, since their acts had lots of features in common. Moving toward the center of fire represents the fighting, and drawing back to the other end represents anti-war in the novel.
However, I do not agree that those ants represents the spirits, the morale of the Italian army, because in my mind, human will never seek for war or battle, no one want to fight when they have a suitable place to live in. Hence, the act of moving toward fire and firstly fight against enemies must be the self-protection. They do not want others to break into their life so they fought back.
--By Frankie Zu
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Re: Final assignment

on Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:54 pm
Rachel Ge wrote:Question 3

People often try to find the deep meaning of literature works and title them as the so-called profound theme. This novel is also interpreted as an anti-war novel. However, I believe maybe Hemingway did not decide to put painstaking elements in his novel when he first wrote it---in other words, he did not INTEND to make it a work of that high value as anti-war. Hemingway, as a writer who had fought on the front life before, were just depicting the reality: the cruelness, the ruthlessness, the bloodiness, the hopelessness, the craziness, and the nothingness existing in the war. The reality then was a long way from what we experience now, which creates barriers in understanding and difficulties in accepting, inciting readers’ negative attitude towards war, thus gaining itself the title of anti-war.
I always remember one of my favourite authors once said that when he wrote his novels, he did not consciously CREATE any expression, action, or life trend of his characters; instead, the characters went to their own fate without his interference. So whenever I’m with literature, I view every character as an independent individual.
Since there’s not a definite theme or intention here, we can say that all is reasonable because it’s just the reflection of reality---Fredric Henry’s use of violence was the result of his pride of being obeyed and insecurity for being taken over; while his seemingly masculine persona with his disillusionment was caused by the wound of war. All reactions of the character are reasonable in a period full of blood and bullet, and these reactions, without readers’ common value to understand, eventually become the reason for anti-war.

(Oops, almost forgot the reply)
I do agree with Rachel on the fact that the author perhaps might not have purposely wrote an anti-war novel. Hemingway is simply presenting the terrors he has seen and experienced in a story, wanting to convey what it is like to be in a war. True he doesn't like war, but he might not have the intention of writing a novel against war. In other words, he might detested war deep in his heart, but he didn't embed that hatred in his work. Rather, he only depicted what war is like and allowed the reader to interpret for himself.
However, I do want to contradict Rachel on her second point. As much as I also doubt whether the plot of the story, the expressions and actions of the characters are intended by the author, yet the perfection of the elements in the novel makes me inclined to think that they are planned beforehand. Perhaps you mean that he didn't consciously think of all these literary elements as he wrote, but rather came to him subconsciously. After all, he is a talented and experienced writer.
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Re: Final assignment

on Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:43 am
Cathy Teng wrote:I choose question 4.

The ants are similar to the characters in the novel. They struggled to get rid of something, but ultimately failed. They did not escape successfully from their fate, just like the ants, running back and forth to escape from fire but of no use. For Catherine, when she was in dystopia, she tried quite hard, but finally both she and her baby died. For the baby, I think he did a lot to embrace the world, but he choked in his mother’s body. For Henry, he struggled to have an ideal life——free, unlimited, and with his lover, he escaped from the army confronting the enormous danger, but eventually he lost his lover and baby and meant to go through a long and lonely life. They made huge efforts to achieve the life they wanted to have, but they all failed to escape from fate, falling into the dreadful fire.

And I think “I” in the passage is referred to fate. It is one’s fate that decides his future, being safe away from fire or falling into the heat, being satisfied and enjoyable or suffering from sorrow, according to the passage. Unfortunately, the existence for human being is tragedy since our future has already been confirmed——death. In other words, no matter how hard we try, no matter how much glory we gain, we will definitely and inevitably gradually walk towards death. People can escape from war or other things, but we cannot avoid death. Human beings are so vulnerable that we will easily be put into fire by the hand of fate. Also, as an atheist, Henry may want to imply that if someone wants to avoid death by anchoring the hope to his belief, the one holding his fate, it is quite sorry because that guy wants to drink whiskey and does not have time or willing to deal with his stuff.

In conclusion, I think the information the passage wants to convey is the vulnerability and tragedy of human’s life and the inevitable future—death of human.

This reply is rather coherent and deeply thought over. I agree with the first statement about the ants' escape from their fate, which is actually an implication about the exact same circumstances faced by the striving soldiers. The fire, representing the guns and weapons, forces the people to fight a battle, without leaving a choice to live, but to die. Some of them managed to auspiciously escape from the first heat wave, but still fails to flee their predestined fate. An unavoidable tragedy is the final faith of human- death.
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Re: Final assignment

on Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:21 pm
Question 2:
The battle field is described as "picturesque", which at the start of the novel set up a peaceful and comforting tone. The war at here seems to be a joke. However, as the story proceeds, readers start to realize that the scenery isn't as beautiful as it seems, and the novel is also far from "peaceful". The beatiful view is merely the silence before an upcoming storm. As others have already mentioned, the contradiction here presents a juxtaposition, the difference and vulnerability of the picturesque nature and the darkness and brutailty of human behaviors. Facing the unstopping and mad war, the nature cannot save itself from interfereing. People certainly like beauty, but they just wouldn't care at this very moment. Or perhaps they feel sorry as well but can't do anything about it. The picturesque scene also created an illusionment, making people feel the situation is not that bad after all. It absolutely fooled over Henry, who felt himself away from war, comparing to other soldiers at least. And thus he was relaxed, he ate and drank, he dated with Catherin, he still lived a cozy life. Looking at the beatiful scene, he felt alright. But reality broke his dreams, it broked him hard down to the ground. This world is what it is, you couldn't choose to ignore it, you have to accept. And if you can't, then you are about to lose. In the end, Henry lost his beloved, he lost everything, now he saw what it was really like. The nature was not beautiful, it was all fire and ashes, it was all bones and blood, but it was too late. Ironic, we did it to ourselves.
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Re: Final assignment

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