AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

by Ernest Hemingway

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AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:06 am

On the 2nd to last page of the book:

All things truly wicked start from an innocence. So you live day by day and enjoy what you have and do not worry. You lie and hate it and it destroys you and every day is more dangerous, but you live day to day as in a war.

Is Hem speaking specifically of his affair with Pauline, of his experiences in Paris, of his life in general or is he speaking globally? Do you agree with Hem?
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Nov 09, 2008 3:39 pm

Placed as it is in the book, I took it to refer to his affair with Pauline. He was trying to explain (excuse?) how he could betray Hadley when he actually felt there was no excuse for his actions. But I suppose the words could be applied to any of the other things you mention.

I wonder if anyone is actually so purely evil that they set out with evil intent to do something horrible? Or do all things truly wicked start from innocence? I don't know. But at some place in the process, a decision is made and innocence is no more.

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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby fansmom » Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:42 pm

I think there's a huge gap between the second sentence and the third one. There you are, enjoying your happy, innocent life, and then fooom!--you lie, and everything changes. There's something major missing between those two sentences. Whatcha lying about, Hem?

I think what's missing was his affair with Pauline, which he was so reluctant to divulge, and even more reluctant to take any responsiblilty for. He really glosses over it in AMT.

To me, because he lies, because he covers up, because he points the finger at her and takes no responsiblity on himself (although he clearly feels guilty,) his experience doesn't transfer to a global experience.

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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Linda Lee » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:19 pm

I believe he was speaking of his own life, in this book it referred to his affair with Pauline. He didn't seem to realize how well off he was with Hadley until he lost her.
In his life after AMF it could easily refer to his other affairs, the first lie sets off the chain of events and you're always wondering when you'll be discovered.
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby gemini » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:01 pm

I agree that he is speaking of his affair, maybe even some later ones considering when he wrote this book.
I think maybe some evil starts from an innocence but when you lie instead of come clean and face the truth, then you are choosing to become part of the evil. He does seem to feel more guilty about what he did to Hadley, maybe because she was first but the way he lead his life afterwards he seemed to get over the guilt with the others.
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:02 pm

At first, I thought of it as far as his entire life, and maybe it was. But I think now he was referring specifically to his affair with Pauline, of which he makes full use of the iceberg theory. I think he was expressing remorse here, myself, and also what he remembers feeling at the time. I’m thinking that he felt quite guilty about it. Although he seems to put a lot of blame on the influence of the Pilot Fish, I think his guilt must have eaten away at him, not to mention the energy it takes to lie 24/7. I think his analogy to war is very good. But he could have been referring to all the affairs he had. In his old age, he might have been feeling very repentant about how he treated women. The only problem with that theory is that he didn’t seem to have any qualms about degrading his contemporaries on paper.
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby fansmom » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:16 pm

Liz wrote:In his old age, he might have been feeling very repentant about how he treated women.
I'd like to think so. :eyebrow:

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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:25 pm

fansmom wrote:
Liz wrote:In his old age, he might have been feeling very repentant about how he treated women.
I'd like to think so. :eyebrow:

When I read it I didn’t get that he was trying to gloss over it because he didn’t want to admit he did it or that he thought light of it. I think he glossed over it because it is something that he was not proud of and still felt guilty about it.
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Buster » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:52 am

This may be way off base, but it seems to me that Hemingway actually thrived on conflict. He sought out dangerous situations, including war, actually, so it doesn't seem surprising that he would find himself living each day as if it were a military zone.
He also sought out novelty, both in his activities and in his relationships. Small wonder he had affairs.

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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Liz » Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:20 pm

Buster wrote:This may be way off base, but it seems to me that Hemingway actually thrived on conflict. He sought out dangerous situations, including war, actually, so it doesn't seem surprising that he would find himself living each day as if it were a military zone.
He also sought out novelty, both in his activities and in his relationships. Small wonder he had affairs.

Not off base at all. That's an excellent point. :cool:
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Linda Lee » Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:45 pm

gemini wrote:I agree that he is speaking of his affair, maybe even some later ones considering when he wrote this book.
I think maybe some evil starts from an innocence but when you lie instead of come clean and face the truth, then you are choosing to become part of the evil. He does seem to feel more guilty about what he did to Hadley, maybe because she was first but the way he lead his life afterwards he seemed to get over the guilt with the others.


I agree with gemini that in choosing to lie you are choosing to become part of the evil and perpetuate it. Sometimes it seems as if it would be easier to lie but in the end things tend to become more complex and you're just getting into more trouble.



Buster wrote:He sought out dangerous situations, including war, actually, so it doesn't seem surprising that he would find himself living each day as if it were a military zone.


Hem seemed to enjoy living on the edge, that could have been part of what made having an affair so attractive to him. He found the secrecy and the lying exciting.
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:11 pm

I've been reading everyone's answers and I do think he was talking specifically about his affair with Pauline because of where it occurs in the book but I think he may have been talking generally about his life as well. I think I said in a previous question that he reminds of someone who is an adrenaline junkie, always looking for the next thrill or challenge. In the pursuit of that he could easily have gotten off track more than once.
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Kittycat88 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:47 pm

I cannot agree with Hem's idea here. If it is his way of describing his infidelities then I think he is being a easy on himself.

I think "wicked things" or wicked deeds come mostly from our desires for what we don't have and can see that others do...a very human phenomena.

Or we lie or steal or cheat mostly out of the survival instinct. To get by a diffcult situation.

I do not particularly think a person is wicked to be unfaithful. Maybe it was an irresistable impulse which caught you at a bad time. People make mistakes.

But not to tell your partner, that is more what I think of is "wicked." Because you are forcing them to live a lie and denying them the choice to leave the relationship. My understanding is Mr. Hemingway's strengths did not include much of an understanding of women.
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Re: AMF Question #24 ~ Does evil begin innocently?

Unread postby Liz » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:32 pm

Kittycat88 wrote: I do not particularly think a person is wicked to be unfaithful. Maybe it was an irresistable impulse which caught you at a bad time. People make mistakes.

But not to tell your partner, that is more what I think of is "wicked." Because you are forcing them to live a lie and denying them the choice to leave the relationship. My understanding is Mr. Hemingway's strengths did not include much of an understanding of women.

I agree with you on this. I think it is worse to lie about it. I'm assuming that he did it because he wanted to have both. However, he did say that he fell back in love with his wife again, but then when they returned to Paris things changed. I think he wanted his cake. Unfortunately, Hem, that's not always the way life works.
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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