Social Sensitivity

Few writers have been more sensitive to nature, to the depths and the strengths of human character, and to the tragedy and the glory of human experience than Hemingway. All of his work is grounded in basic timeless values: courage, precision, skill, honor, honesty, and dignity. Much of his writing is profoundly religious, deeply spiritual but never preachy. Hemingway always examines the truth of experience, however dark or violent it may be; he does not deny the reality of evil and suffering and death, but he is equally concerned with the human struggle to transcend difficulty through the values and conduct that provide redemption.

Many readers will approach Hemingway with reservations about the violent and “macho” reputation of his work. The Old Man and the Sea does depict the violence inherent in nature and also contains some passages that could be considered sexist. For example, in an extended metaphor comparing the sea to a woman, Hemingway writes: “…the old man always thought of [the sea] as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favors, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.” But overall Hemingway’s vision and his values are positive and appropriate to all human beings.

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