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Ernest Hemingway uses a range of techniques within language and linguistics to distinguish distinct roles of gender in A Very Short

Story. The characters conform to early twentieth century archetypal positions of masculine and feminine stereotypes. The author provides insightful issues towards women for both the original generation the story was intended and the modern reader. Hemingway uses the tools of language for a more progressive stance on the sexes than the content of the narrative itself.

In contrast to the narrative (aside from the ending), the stylistic elements in the language within Hemingways work are actually not chauvinistic in regards to the linguistic composition. As Fenton comments:

...while Hemingway is often remembered, and indeed revered, for a kind of machismo, in his best writing he is far more sophisticated about human nature than the machismo ethic would allow.1

A Very Short Story certainly does contain sexism but the story later deprecates the male role and a duality is created. This is first noticeable in the method of the authors use of pronouns:

He and Luz could hear them below on the balcony2

Hemingway never makes use of gender neutral pronouns throughout the text. The writer is intent on calling Luz by her name or the third person subjective lexis she, or objective her. This gives respect to the female character by referring to her in the feminine role. In opposition the man is never named. This is significant because with this perspective the
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Ernest Hemingway, James Fenton, The Collected Stories, (Everymans Library, 1995) p. xxii Ernest Hemingway, James Fenton, The Collected Stories, (Everymans Library, 1995), p. 83

interpreter feels empathy for Luz. The reader does not form an emotional connection to this mysterious gentleman. This also coincides with Lacans theory that women do not exist3, mens perceived image of women is a fantasy.

The implied reader is for this text is male. The dark comical elements are emblematic to cater for a masculine audience4, such as:

...he contracted gonorrhoea from a sales girl in a Loop department store while riding in a taxicab through Lincoln Park.5

This twist in the tale is the punch line which actually makes a mockery of the male. The major has in all probability broken Luzs heart and now suffers, in the context of the story this makes karmic sense and repairs the equilibrium between the protagonists. The important detail is a sales girl which gives the sexual disease to the major, almost implying a purposeful act of revenge from the female species.

The dichotomy between what the language says and the actual plot, where the woman is ridiculed by the male is possibly a reflection of Hemingways own inner battle with his sexuality:

Yet the very impulse which pulled Hemingway toward the feminine also awakened his latent shame and anger.6

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Kirsten Campbell, Jacques Lacan and Feminine Epistemology, (Routledge, 2004), p. 86 Jennifer Hay, Gender and Humour: Beyond a Joke, (Victoria University of Wellington, 1995), p.182 5 Ernest Hemingway, James Fenton, The Collected Stories, (Everymans Library, 1995), p. 85 6 J. Gerald Kennedy, Hemingways Gender Trouble, American Literature, Vol. 63. No. 2, (Duke University Press, 1991) p.192

It is notable that this distinction of femininity is buried within the language itself and is not an explicit fact. The application of these techniques corresponds in relation to Bondis theory on the repressed and secondary female, an expansion of iek and Lacan theories:

It is through this intertwining that the dominant knowledge systems are gendered: the superior terms in the dualisms are associated with masculinity, the subordinate terms with femininity7

Therefore upon close reading A Very Short Story, the interpreter may read a duality of opposing gender biases. Despite the role of the woman being hidden perhaps the predominately male audience would have noticed the non-misogynistic qualities about this text and examine both masculinity and femininity in tandem.

Liz Bondi, In Whose Words? On Gender Identities, Knowledge and Writing Practices , Transactions of the

Institute of British Geographers (Blackwell Publishing, 1997), p.246