(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Hemingway’s most episodic novel, To Have and Have Not is arguably his one book in which the sum of the parts does not equal the individual fragments. It certainly is his one novel that does not maintain artistic unity. Although filled with vivid writing and peopled with memorable characters, the book is weak as a novel. In fact, Hemingway was on record as saying that it was conceived as separate short stories although eventually published as a novel.

The first chapters of the novel focus on Harry Morgan’s efforts to support himself and his family. His tools for accomplishing this are his fishing boat, his wits, and his strength. He must depend on the rich, whom he often despises, to charter his boat, and then he must deal with their erratic, often destructive natures. He is not an immoral man, but he is willing to make compromises to achieve his principal goal: clothing and feeding his wife and three daughters. This leads him to progress from fishing trips for rich “sportsmen” to smuggling liquor, ferrying illegal immigrants, and, finally, providing a getaway for gangsters. He is one of the “have nots” and sympathizes with the other “have nots,” but he lives off the “haves.” This means that he must be willing, when necessary, to sacrifice other “have nots” such as the Chinese immigrants, whom he is paid to double-cross.

The episodic chapters reveal Harry Morgan driven closer and closer to the edge, forced to rely more and more on animal cunning and strength. Increasingly, the distance between himself and the “haves” is made clear. In fact, it is the rich who destroy Morgan’s options, so that he must go outside the...

(The entire section is 686 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter Summaries

To Have and Have Not Chapter 1 Summary

In 1930s Havana, three Cubans approach Harry Morgan and Eddy with the proposition of smuggling some revolutionaries into the United States. Morgan refuses, stating that he will not smuggle anything than can talk. The Cubans, particularly one named Pancho, take offense because they think he believes they will talk. They leave with veiled threats.

As the Cubans exit, gunfire erupts from a car across the square. Morgan jumps behind the bar and watches the gun fight. Morgan takes a drink from a bottle then leaves out the back, avoiding the gathering crowd. He goes down to the dock and boards a boat. He finds Johnson (who has chartered Morgan’s boat for a fishing expedition) on board. Johnson asks where Eddy is. Morgan did not see him after the shooting started but does not think he was hit. Soon Eddy reaches the boat; he has not been shot but he does not look good and does not want to talk about what happened.

Johnson wants to go out fishing even though he has not caught anything significant in three weeks. Morgan is resigned because at least Johnson pays. A Black man who had been getting bait for the boat comes and also boards, and the men cast off. The Black man baits the hooks, and Johnson is impressed with his skill. In the open sea, flying fish present a good sign, so Morgan tells Johnson to put out his bait as the boat sails along. Morgan warns Johnson to keep the rod in the socket on the fishing chair in case of a big strike.

Morgan assures Johnson that it is a good day to get a fish. Johnson is skeptical and says boat captains such as Morgan always have an excuse for not catching fish. Morgan replies that there is usually a good reason for not catching fish. As Morgan gets Johnson a beer, he sees a huge marlin come up. Morgan directs Johnson as he tries to get the fish to take the bait. When the fish is hooked, it heads off toward shore. Johnson keeps insisting that the fish is gone, but Morgan urges him to keep...

(The entire section is 570 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 2 Summary

Harry Morgan returns to the café where he had previously been approached about smuggling people. Frankie arrives with another man, Mr. Sing. Mr. Sing wishes to charter Morgan’s boat, but he does not necessarily need Morgan because he has his own captain and crew. Morgan insists that he goes where his boat goes. At this point, Mr. Sing asks Frankie to leave them so they can speak privately.

Mr. Sing wants Morgan to carry a load of Chinese emigrants to the Tortugas, where a schooner will pick them up. He leaves it up to Morgan exactly where he will take the Chinese. Morgan wants one hundred dollars a head, but Mr. Sing finds this excessive. Morgan points out that he could go to prison for ten years if caught. If caught, Mr. Sing would accuse Morgan of having betrayed him and then ship out the emigrants again later.

Morgan agrees to do the job for two hundred dollars up front and the remaining thousand when the Chinese load onto the boat. Morgan says they will leave in the morning. They agree on the place and the signal. Morgan will not take anyone on board until he receives the rest of the money, but Mr. Sing says he will pay one half when they load and the rest when he is finished. Morgan agrees, though he insists that no guns or other weapons are to be brought on board.

After Mr. Sing leaves, Morgan asks Frankie how he got to know the man. Franks says simply that Mr. Sing has a big business shipping Chinamen for the past two years. He took over the business from another man who had been killed. Frankie is pleased that Morgan is doing business with Mr. Sing.

In the morning, Morgan clears the way for departure. He worries about this business; he has not slept all night. When Eddy meets him at the dock, Morgan tells him to leave because he is poison to him. Eddy is slow to get off the boat, so Morgan hits him in the face. Eddy gets up and climbs out onto the dock. Eddy is hurt by Morgan’s desertion of him, and Morgan continues to be hardhearted, even though he feels bad about treating him this way. He gives Eddy five dollars. Eddy still does not know why Morgan is treating him in such a manner.

Morgan gets his departure papers from the broker and then meets Frankie, who hands him a picture: it shows the Black man who had baited for him, with his throat slit, and with a message of warning. The Cubans thought Morgan had told the police he was to meet them the morning that Pancho and the other two boys were killed. Morgan returns to his boat and is glad to reach it alive.

To Have and Have Not Chapter 3 Summary

Harry Morgan heads his boat down the channel to the open sea; he passes a British freighter loaded with sugar. Out in the harbor he lays the course for Key West, his home and declared destination. Havana disappears slowly behind him. When all other boats and the coastline have been left behind, he cuts the motor and lets the boat drift. He looks around but sees nothing but some distant boats and the dome of the Capitol in Havana. He realizes again how much open water there is between Cuba and the Florida Keys.

Morgan goes down into the cockpit and discovers Eddy, who had crawled aboard and gone to sleep. He has two quarts of rum with him, which he bought right before he came on the boat. He had awakened when Morgan first started out but went back to sleep. When Morgan stopped the boat, Eddy woke up. Morgan is furious. He contemplates making Eddy jump overboard and tells him so. Eddy assures him that he is a good man and will keep his mouth shut, though Morgan doubts he will be able to once he gets some liquor in him. He takes the rum away from him.

Morgan feels sorry for Eddy but is still angry. Eddy asks what the matter with the engine is, but Morgan assures him there is nothing wrong. Morgan tells Eddy he is in serious trouble. When Eddy asks what kind of trouble, Morgan says that he is not sure yet but just that he’s in trouble. They sit awhile, and Morgan does not feel like talking anymore. He goes below to check on the guns in the cabin. He hangs them up in their cases beside the fishing rods. He loads the Winchester, then he cleans and fills up the Smith and Wesson thirty-eight special and places it in his belt.

Eddy again asks him what the matter is. Morgan says, “Nothing.” Eddy asks why he needs all the guns, and Morgan tells him he always carries them on board to shoot at birds that bother the bait or to shoot sharks. Eddy continues to badger him, but Morgan does not give him any information. He realizes after all that he is going to need Eddy’s help. He tells him they have a job to do, and he will give him more information when it is time. He knows Eddy will start worrying if he knows too much and would then not be any use. Eddy assures him of his willingness to help. He then asks for a drink because he is getting “the shakes.” Morgan gives him one, and the two men sit and wait for darkness.

To Have and Have Not Chapter 4 Summary

Harry Morgan sits in the boat with Eddy as the darkness envelops them. Only the lights from the Morro lighthouse and the lights of Havana are glowing. The boat drifts, but Morgan keeps track of where they are. Eddy is worried and cannot eat. Morgan tells him to go ahead and have a drink; he can see Eddy is getting the shakes. Morgan will administer the alcohol at intervals as if it is medication because Eddy has no courage if he does not have alcohol in him.

Morgan explains to Eddy that they are going to Bacuranao to pick up twelve Chinese people. Eddy takes the wheel for a while. Later he asks Morgan for another drink, but Morgan refuses. He wants Eddy brave but not useless. Eddy insists that he is a good man, but...

(The entire section is 486 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 5 Summary

Harry Morgan opens up his shirt and looks at the spot where Mr. Sing bit him. He puts iodine on the wound and wonders if a Chinaman’s bite is poisonous. He decides that a man like Mr. Sing probably brushes his teeth several times a day. He also decides that Mr. Sing was not much of a businessman.

Everything is simple, reflects Morgan, except for Eddy. Because he is a rummy, he is liable to talk when he is drunk. He thinks Eddy would be better off dead than the way he is—drunk or needing a drink all the time. When he discovered him on board, he had thought he would have to kill him, but everything has worked out so nicely. In addition, Eddy was not on the crew list, so Morgan would have to pay a fine for bringing him...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 6 Summary

Harry Morgan is smuggling liquor to the Florida Keys. He is accompanied by Wesley, who is referred to as the “nigger.” They encountered a storm in the night, so they are unsure of their location when day breaks. When they see a tanker coming down the Gulf of Mexico waters, they at first think it is a cluster of buildings on land.

Morgan tells Wesley that he should have more confidence in Morgan’s steering, but Wesley has lost his confidence since Morgan shot him in the leg. Wesley complains of the pain, but Morgan dismisses this and tells him to keep it clean and wrapped up, and it will heal by itself. Morgan then turns his attention to piloting the boat toward Woman Key, where they will hide out during the...

(The entire section is 445 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 7 Summary

Dumping liquor bottles over the side of the boat, Harry Morgan hears the sound of a motor. He looks up and sees a boat coming down the channel. He warns Wesley, who still refuses to help. Morgan drops the full sack of bottles into the water. He reaches for the sack on which Wesley is resting and dumps that too. Wesley sits up and notices that the approaching boat is piloted by Captain Willie, a charter boat captain, with a party of fishermen. Captain Willie greets Morgan and passes by but intends to turn around and return. Morgan covers up Wesley. He tells Wesley that Captain Willie will tell the people in town where they are, but the fishermen do not care about them. Feeling shaky, Morgan sits down in a chair, holding his injured...

(The entire section is 433 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 8 Summary

Harry Morgan throws the last sack of liquor over the side of the boat and tells Wesley to get him the fish knife. Wesley tells him that the knife is gone. Morgan starts the engines. He had installed a second engine when the Depression weakened the charter boat business and he had turned to running bootleg liquor. He chops the anchor rope, dropping the anchor down onto the sacks of liquor below. He resigns himself to the possibility, if not probability, of his losing the boat to the federal agents. His primary concern at the moment is to get to a doctor who will tend to his arm. He does not want to lose both the boat and his arm.

Morgan pilots the boat out of the channel and into the sea. Moving past the mangroves on the...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 9 Summary

Albert (Al) and Harry Morgan are sitting in Freddie’s café when a lawyer comes in looking for “Juan.” Harry is sure the lawyer is there on some other business, but the lawyer says he has a job for Juan. The lawyer looks at Morgan’s amputated arm and asks about it. Morgan says he did not like the look of it, so he cut it off. When the lawyer asks too many questions, Morgan tells him to go bother someone else. The lawyer wants to talk to him privately, so they go back to the booths. They return, having arranged to meet later.

Morgan asks Al what he is doing. All tells him he is on relief, digging the sewer and taking up the old streetcar rails. Morgan asks him if he wants to go on a “trip” with him. They...

(The entire section is 425 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 10 Summary

Harry reflects that this trip is not something he should choose to do, but he feels that he has no choice. If he does not take this job, he is unsure what will come next and if there will even be any more chances. His family must eat, so he must do this job. He thinks he should probably not take Albert. Albert is not that intelligent, but he is honest and valuable in a boat, and he does not scare easily. Harry, however, is still not sure that he should take him. He cannot take anyone else—not Eddy or Wesley. He has to have someone on whom he can depend.

Harry vows that, if they make it through, he will give Albert a share. However, he cannot tell him beforehand or he will not go into it, and Harry must have someone....

(The entire section is 423 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 11 Summary

At nine thirty, Bee-lips arrives at Freddy’s café. He has obviously been drinking a lot: alcohol always makes him cocky, and he came in extremely cocky. He confronts Harry Morgan, continually calling him “big shot,” which Harry resents. Bee-lips wants to talk to Harry back at his office. There is no one there because there has been a law passed that prevents young women from going out after six o’clock. Freddy asks him how long that law will last. Bee-lips suggests that Freddy retain his legal services to do something about it, but Freddy declines.

Back at the office, Bee-lips tells Harry that the Cubans want to charter the boat for the night in two days. Harry asks what the Cubans intend to do. Bee-lips points...

(The entire section is 436 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 12 Summary

Harry returns home at night. He does not turn out the light but simply undresses (except for his undershirt) and goes to bed. His wife tries to question him, but Harry is short on conversation. He tells her that he is going to make a trip, possibly with Albert. She is concerned that he retrieved his boat illegally and worries that he will go to jail, but Harry insists that no one knows he has it.

Harry suggests that they make love. He asks his wife if his amputated arm bothers her, but she insists that it is he that she likes. He feels self-conscious about it and refers to it as a “flipper on a loggerhead.” As they make love, she asks him if he ever made love to a “nigger wench.” He says that he has, but it was...

(The entire section is 464 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 13 Summary

At ten o’clock that morning, two customs men approach Harry at Freddy’s place. They ask him about his boat. He claims that he does not know anything about it. They ask him of his whereabouts the previous night, to which he replies that he was at Freddy’s until it closed and then at home. The customs men tell him not to become upset (“plugged”). Harry says that he is not upset, though he would rather have his boat in the custody of customs where he has a chance of getting it back than have it stolen.

Hayzooz (a Cuban taxi driver) enters the café and is greeted by Big Roger. He tells about his newborn baby, whom Roger says is not his. Hayzooz says that he “bought the cow” so the “calf” belongs to him....

(The entire section is 441 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 14 Summary

When Harry returns to his house, his wife (Marie) and his daughters are having lunch. The oldest girl greets him and says that she heard someone stole his boat. He says “they” found it, telling his wife “they” refers to Customs. His younger daughter asks if it is not better that the boat was found, but Harry simply tells her not to talk while she is eating. He demands his dinner be brought to him and tells his daughters to eat up and leave because he needs to talk to their mother in private. They ask for money to go to the movie, but he suggests that they go swimming because that is free. The girls object that it is too cold to go swimming and want to go to the movie instead. He relents. When they leave, he asks his wife to...

(The entire section is 437 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 15 Summary

As Harry enters Freddy’s place, he sees three tourists (Mr. and Mrs. Laughton and Professor MacWalsey) at the bar, joking back and forth. Harry interrupts and asks to speak with Freddy privately. The woman tourist looks at him appreciatively then tells her husband that she wants to buy him. Harry tells her to shut up and calls her a whore. Freddy takes him in the back where Bee-lips is waiting. He tells Harry he cannot call a decent woman a whore, but Harry is offended by her condescension.

Harry asks Bee-lips if he has the money. He hands over $1,020. Harry tells him it should be $1,200, but Bee-lips says he subtracted his commission. He begs Freddy to take the money, but Freddy is hesitant at being short-changed....

(The entire section is 443 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 16 Summary

Harry arrives at the dock and sees no one around. He takes the gun case from under the seat and climbs aboard; he puts the case out of sight. He starts both engines and notices that the port engine is not running as well as the starboard one. He decides he needs to replace the plugs. He goes below and assembles the gun, then he rigs a sling to hold it where it can be easily reached with no more than two movements. He practices retrieving the gun several times. He decides that if he is taken down, at least he will take a few with him.

Harry looks out on the bay, where the bright afternoon promises smooth sailing. There is some activity but nothing suspicious. He is looking forward to a calm night, which will mean that it...

(The entire section is 444 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 17 Summary

At Freddy’s, Harry cannot bring himself to tell about his plans. He decides that Freddy would not stand for his boat being used for the illegal purpose of transporting revolutionaries to Cuba. Perhaps in the old days before the Depression he would have, but not now. It is not until he thinks about telling Freddy of his trip to Cuba that he realizes how bad this plan is. He explores the possibility of staying at Freddy’s and not going to the boat when the Cubans arrive. The only problem will be that his gun is on board, but there is no way the gun can be linked to him because he bought it in Cuba. He thinks, however, of his wife and children, how they may go hungry if he does not finish this job. Not only is there a Depression...

(The entire section is 449 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 18 Summary

As Harry and Albert wait in the boat, they see four Cuban men come running out of the bank with pistols drawn. Albert realizes that they are robbing the bank and heading for their boat. They jump on the boat and force Harry to leave at gunpoint. Albert tells Harry not to start the boat for robbers, but the biggest Cuban fires at Albert, hitting him several times in the chest. The boat moves out of the harbor. As the men lie down flat on the deck, Harry runs the boat out the channel to open water. There are no boats starting after them at first, but soon two fishing boats head toward them. Soon shots are fired from the chasing boats, but no bullets even come close to hitting Harry’s boat.

When Harry asks how much money...

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To Have and Have Not Chapter 19 Summary

The next morning, Richard Gordon is on his way to Freddy’s bar to learn more about the bank robbery the day before. As he rides his bike, he passes a big woman wearing a man’s hat over her bleached blond hair. She is obviously crying. With contempt, Gordon thinks of her as a “big ox” and wonders what someone like that thinks about. He tries to imagine what she would be like in bed, or who she runs around with in town, and what her husband thinks about her now that she has gotten to such a large size. He thinks she is an appalling woman, built like a battleship.

When he reaches his home, he leaves his bicycle on the front porch. He opens the front door and notices how the termites have tunneled through it. He...

(The entire section is 419 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 20 Summary

Freddy’s boat, called the Queen Conch, is painted white, with the forward deck, top of the house, and cockpit painted green. Her name and port city (Key West) are painted in black across the stern. 
She has no mast, and one of the glass windshields is broken. There are a number of bullet holes in her hull. From the lower holes, something dark is dripping. She is drifting along about ten miles outside of the tanker lanes amid patches of Sargasso weed. There is no sign of life on her, but the body of a man shows above the gunwale on a bench. The body is bloated, leaning over with one hand in the water. Small fish swim around every time there is a drop from the boat. The fish follow the boat as it is carried along by the...

(The entire section is 424 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 21 Summary

Richard Gordon comes home from the Bradleys’ and finds his wife, Helen, sitting on the couch in the dark with John MacWalsey. She accuses Richard of having lipstick on his shirt and reeking of Mrs. Bradley’s cologne. Richard asks his wife if she kissed MacWalsey, and she says she did not. He then asks if he kissed her, to which she replies that he did and she liked it. Richard calls his wife a bitch, and she tells him that she will leave him if he calls her that, so he calls her a bitch again and again. She announces that their marriage is over, that she has tried to be a good wife but he is too conceited and selfish. He provokes her with the fact that she could not have any children. She claims that she was furious at...

(The entire section is 435 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 22 Summary

Richard Gordon shuns his bicycle and decides to walk down to the Lilac Time, a local gambling hall and bar. The bartender notices that Richard does not look well and offers to give him some absinthe, a strong alcoholic drink. Not even three glasses make him feel any better. He then asks for whiskey, though the bartender warns him about drinking anything else after absinthe. As Richard looks at himself in the bar mirror, he decides that drinking will not do anything to help the situation. A young man named Herbert Spellman approaches him, the two having met previously in Brooklyn. Spellman expresses his appreciation of Richard’s work and offers to buy him a drink. Despite reminders from Spellman, Richard cannot remember him or the...

(The entire section is 549 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 23 Summary

The Coast Guard cutter tows Freddy’s boat, the Queen Conch, through the reef and Keys. The Conch is carrying the wounded Harry Morgan and the four dead Cubans. The captain notes how easily the boat tows, despite the rolling of the waves in the light breeze. He asks his mate if he could make out anything that Morgan was saying, but the mate says that Morgan must be crazy because he is not making any sense. The captain assumes that Morgan will die because the stomach wound Morgan received is usually fatal. He wonders if it was Morgan who killed the four Cubans. The mate had asked Morgan that question but could not get an intelligible answer. The captain and mate decide to go have another talk with Morgan, who is...

(The entire section is 392 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 24 Summary

At a converted military pier in Key West, a watchman blocks entrance to a group of yachtsmen trying to get to their boat. Moving past the watchman, Henry Carpenter and Wallace Johnston reach their luxurious yacht and settle down for a drink. They wonder what was the matter with the watchman at the gate, and they speak of Tom Bradley, whom Wallace cannot bear. Wallace also cannot stand Mrs. Bradley. Carpenter objects, saying that he likes Helene because she enjoys a good time. They wonder over the fact that the Bradleys do not have any children, speculating that Tom Bradley is impotent. Wallace says that the Bradleys epitomize everything he hates in either gender. Carpenter says that he is in a bad mood, mainly because he lost three...

(The entire section is 514 words.)

To Have and Have Not Chapter 25 Summary

Harry Morgan is unconscious when the Coast Guard cutter reaches the pier. He is carried by stretcher to the ambulance. The Guardsmen report that he has either been delirious or unconscious most of the time, and so has given no information about what occurred. The sheriff asks for a floodlight to be brought down to Freddy’s boat so an investigation can be made immediately. The sheriff asks the Guardsmen where they found the money and the men. The captain states that they had closed the sacks once they had seen the money. They moved two of the dead bodies to prevent them from rolling overboard, and they also moved Morgan to a bunk. The captain warns the sheriff not to light a match, because the area is soaked in gasoline.


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To Have and Have Not Chapter 26 Summary

Marie Morgan sits at the dining-room table, trying to come to grips with the loss of her husband. She thinks that she must take it just one day at a time, though the nights will be torture. It would be different, she believes, if she truly cared about her daughters, but she does not. She must get started on something, or she will become dead inside. It is a week since Harry’s death. She tries not thinking about him, fearing that if she does, she will not remember what he looked like. She had panicked when she looked at him in death and could not remember how he looked alive. Although it would have been better if he had left some money, she knows it would make no difference as to how she felt.

The first thing she knows...

(The entire section is 428 words.)