AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

by Ernest Hemingway

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AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:54 am

On the final 2 pages of the chapter entitled A False Spring:

Standing there I wondered how much of what we had felt on the bridge was just hunger. I asked my wife and she said, “I don’t know, Tatie. There are so many sorts of hunger. In the spring there are more. But that’s gone now. Memory is hunger"……..It was a wonderful meal at Michaud’s after we got in; but when we had finished and there was no question of hunger any more the feeling that had been like hunger when we were on the bridge was still there when we caught the bus home. It was there when we came in the room and after we had gone to bed and made love in the dark, it was there. When I woke with the windows open and the moonlight on the roofs of the tall houses, it was there. I put my face away from the moonlight into the shadow but I could not sleep and lay awake thinking about it. We had both wakened twice in the night and my wife slept sweetly now with the moonlilght on her face. I had to try to think it out and I was too stupid. Life had seemed so simple that morning when I had awakened and found the false spring and heard the pipes of the man with his herd of goats and gone out and bought the racing paper.

What was this “hunger” really?
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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Parlez » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:46 pm

In a nutshell, hunger is wanting. Wanting anything that you don't have at the moment you're in. If you're not 'in the moment', as it were, you're somewhere else. Hemingway's mind is elsewhere, and he can't figure out where it is exactly. He's in a mood, trying to recapture a lost feeling. That's the trouble with feelings - they come and they go. He's describing his surroundings as being not so bad, yet he's unsatisfied. He's wanting to recapture some other place in time, some other feeling that was generated back then. But it's gone, and no amount of wanting can bring it back.

Boy, does this set up a cycle or what?! Nostalgia for the past, discontent with the present, and questing for some illusive state of 'happiness' in the future - the whole shebang.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby fansmom » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:00 pm

Parlez wrote:Boy, does this set up a cycle or what?! Nostalgia for the past, discontent with the present, and questing for some illusive state of 'happiness' in the future - the whole shebang.

And since he can't put his finger on it, can't really articulate what he's hungry for, he's really setting himself up for disaster.

Or do I just think that because I know what eventually becomes of him? :-/

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:55 pm

I understand hunger being memory. This is the month of my daughter's death and I have certainly been experiencing hunger for the past.....or hunger for her......or something. Memory tends to be selective. As time goes by, I think we remember much more of the good and pleasant things and filter out the ugly and bad..........so hungering for the time of memory may be chasing an illusion. And I have also been experiencing a real discontent with the present on the work front........that adds to the sense of hunger for that elusive something else and better.

But "hunger" seems like such a driving need, an overwhelming obsession. Different from a simple "want" or "wish." In this passage I am not sure what great need Hem is referring to.

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Parlez » Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:33 pm

First of all, here's a hug for you, nebraska - I'm so sorry for your loss.:hug:
I wonder if you feel that, compared to the tragedy you've suffered, Hemingway's lamenting about some supposedly happier time in the Spring seems just a bit self-indulgent...?

Personally, I think we're getting a glimpse of the 'iceberg' from the 'tip' he gives us here - the iceberg being depression. He admits that there's nothing really wrong in the present; yet there's something missing. That something missing apparently bugs him throughout the rest of his life, so that no matter what he goes on to accomplish in his personal or professional life never quite hits the mark. Extreme nostalgia leads to extreme sadness, leads to extreme depression.

It's like this book is a chronicle of his descent from a state of being pretty full (as in happy) to being overwhelmingly empty.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Liz » Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:01 am

Very insightful answers! You have all got me thinking. So here is my theory.... Some people are never happy. They are always searching for what they hunger and either never find it or find it but get tired of it. Basically, they can never be happy. Maybe this is simplistic, but I think that people like this are more prone to suicide. The other possibility is that Hem is looking back on his life while writing AMF, and is currently in a depressed state. It wasn’t too much longer before he committed suicide.
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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Buster » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:18 am

Another aspect of hunger is anticipation - dreaming about the fulfillment of the current need.
Springtime is a bit like that, especially here in Vermont. A time of waiting, knowing that suddenly everything will explode into the bounty of of a brief and glorious summer.
Perhaps, Hemingway was talking about his writing. At this stage, he was still hungering for acknowledgment of his skill, yet he had the core conviction that he would succeed.

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:55 am

Interesting point about him writing and looking back. Even though he was writing from notes taken at the time memory can be a selective thing and with the passing of time we do apply filters. You all have come up with some very thought provoking answers. Not that I'm surprised! :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby gemini » Sat Oct 25, 2008 12:00 am

But that’s gone now. Memory is hunger"…


The things he mentions are all so pleasant and very nostalgic. It is certainly plain that he missed them. He admits that he lay awake at the time, thinking about hungering probably for more, as some of you mentioned, but yet as this was written many years later it is almost as if he is admitting that he now hungers for what he had.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:28 pm

gemini wrote:
But that’s gone now. Memory is hunger"…


The things he mentions are all so pleasant and very nostalgic. It is certainly plain that he missed them. He admits that he lay awake at the time, thinking about hungering probably for more, as some of you mentioned, but yet as this was written many years later it is almost as if he is admitting that he now hungers for what he had.

He may have been mourning the end of his youth and the excitement most of his life entailed.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Parlez » Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:51 pm

Aye. I think this is where some of the writer's current thoughts and feelings are bleeding through his narrative. It would be hard to comprehend a younger man feeling such a strange tug to the past. He hadn't lived long enough to be that nostalgic, and what he was lamenting about was such a recent seasonal scenario. You'd think he'd be more optimistic about the fact that another lovely springtime would come around. Such melancholy sentiments in one so young add fuel to the notion of early signs of depression, unless said sentiments are actually coming from the more mature (definitely depressed) Hemingway.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Re: AMF Question #11 ~ Hunger

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:19 pm

Parlez wrote:Aye. I think this is where some of the writer's current thoughts and feelings are bleeding through his narrative. It would be hard to comprehend a younger man feeling such a strange tug to the past. He hadn't lived long enough to be that nostalgic, and what he was lamenting about was such a recent seasonal scenario. You'd think he'd be more optimistic about the fact that another lovely springtime would come around. Such melancholy sentiments in one so young add fuel to the notion of early signs of depression, unless said sentiments are actually coming from the more mature (definitely depressed) Hemingway.

Parlez, I’m thinking a little of both…..just more magnified at 58, when he began the book.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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