What Techniques Does Hemingway Use to Tell This Story?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As early as the 1920s, motion pictures had an strong influence on novelists and short story writers. Some of Ernest Hemingway’s stories are like movies—which explains why so many were adapted to movies. The same was true for Dashiell Hammett, who wrote in an objective way and relied heavily on dialogue to convey exposition. His novel The Maltese Falcon was made into movies three times. When a movie opens—that is, when the camera "fades in"—there is usually no explanation of the problem, the setting, or anything else. There may be a so-called “establishing shot.” For instance, if the story takes place in Paris you will see the Eiffel Tower and know you are in Paris. If it takes place in New York you are likely to see a lot of skyscrapers. Movies usually can only show people doing things in outdoor or indoor settings and talking to each other. The viewer has to pick up information from the actors’ dialogue. Sometimes there is a "voice-over" narrator, which is equivalent to prose exposition in a story; but movie makers do not like voice-over narrators. "Hills Like White Elephants" opens with the equivalent of an "establishing shot":

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun.

This is description, not exposition. Hemingway tried to avoid straight prose exposition because it makes the author intrusive and at the same time distances the reader from the characters.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial