Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Hemingway’s mastery of understatement as a controlling literary device is evident throughout “After the Storm.” Akin to the understatement is the strong irony within the story. Events that have cost the lives of all the people on the sunken ship are minimized by Hemingway’s choice of narrator. Because the narrator’s focus is self-serving, materialistic, and essentially meretricious, the information given about the shipwreck is minimal, and its scope is limited by the vision of the low-life person who tells it. The secondary action of the story, that of the actual shipwreck, is the larger, more dramatic action of the two story lines Hemingway develops here, but by downplaying it, he asserts his stylistic control.
The story’s narrator is a crude, brutalized person, someone who will fight over nothing and whose moral code is as debased as his speech, which throughout the story gives subtle insights into his personality. The birds flock around the ship to eat carrion because they must live; they are morally neutral. The narrator, however, does not have their moral neutrality and is, hence, more culpable than they.
Despite the ironic contrast between the main action and the secondary action, in fact, perhaps because of it, the reader develops a growing sense of horror at what happened. This sense of horror continues to develop in one’s mind long after one has read the story. The impact is remarkably long-lasting because the reader...
(The entire section is 311 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Benson, Jackson J., ed. New Critical Approaches to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990.
Berman, Ronald. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the Twenties. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Ernest Hemingway. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005.
Burgess, Anthony. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1999.
Flora, Joseph M. Ernest Hemingway: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1989.
Hays, Peter L. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Continuum, 1990.
Hotchner, A. E. Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir. New ed. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. 1985. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1999.
Padura Fuentes, Leonardo. Adiós Hemingway. Translated by John King. New York: Canongate, 2005.
Reynolds, Michael. The Young Hemingway. New York: Blackwell, 1986.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Paris Years. New York: Blackwell, 1989.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Homecoming. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.
(The entire section is 186 words.)