Hemingway Critical Thinking Essay Example
Nowadays people are overloaded with information. The development of technology gives one 24/7 access to online mass media, and a variety of websites allows the reader to browse any type of information. However, the abundance of information is confusing due to diametrically opposite viewpoints and often questionable sources. Therefore, the readership should develop critical thinking in order to be able to sift through a bundle of facts and opinions and navigate among important political and economic issues.
With an increased presence of social media in people’s lives through portable devices, an amount of time spent online increased dramatically. Whereas the primary reason for using social media is keeping in touch with family and friends, getting news makes up a considerable percentage. For the sake of convenience people subscribe to news websites and get news headlines in their Facebook or Twitter feeds. However, the majority of social media and search engines align their results to people’s Internet searching habits. It results in a narrower choice for world events that appear in the feed. Personally, I have many friends who get news mainly from their Facebook news feed. Knowing that Facebook filters the information users see on their feeds, it is obvious that an individual with such habits gets a rather biased outlook based on his or her previous searches and clicks.
However, even when the question of sources is solved, people find another problem: how to choose among multiple options. In the modern world people are constantly sold something, be it a new brand of cereal to buy for breakfast or a politician to vote for having been bought into his or her campaign. Therefore, people need to sharpen their mental skills to be able to ramble through the jungle of information aimed to hook the audience with its psychological tricks. Politicians have hordes of political and image consultants assisting them to make a necessary impression.
People should be harnessed to separate one’s words and one’s deeds and see when soft and neutral words hide something they oppose to. When shopping, a potential buyer should be able to ‘read between the lines’ and look through marketing tricks. People become more aware of the hidden truths and marketing experts are devious enough to make up new tricks and gimmicks. For example, a wide population is already aware that palm oil is harmful. One may often spot people scrutinizing labels standing in supermarket isles. However, producers learnt to mark their labels with ‘vegetable oil’ rather than ‘palm oil’. Technically they are right: palms grow bananas which are vegetables but in reality they deceive customers who should know better.
Another aspect where people should hone their critical skills is news coverage on TV. The information is easier to process critically when it is written because people read at their own speed and can stop to reflect and ruminate on the information. Meanwhile, TV reports are visuals-driven, and people are less critical with visual information. It is too stimulating and attention grabbing. Besides, the effect of ‘I-saw-it-with-my-own-eye’ is more persuasive than reading someone’s description of an event. Human brain works in such a way that it can complete the picture it saw with assumed information. TV news providers often use it to provide their biased reports. For example, covering a rally or demonstration, it is easy to show the event as it is necessary rather than truthfully. It is easy to film only a small group of people or come to shoot at the beginning of the event when there are not many people yet and say that it was unsuccessful and very few turned up. The same event can be given such an amount of coverage so that the audience would believe that it was large-scale and important for a large number of people.
Remembering about hegemony of white male domination in society, people can consume popular culture more consciously. Making a mental note about how women and minorities are portrayed in cultural texts reveals a lot about society. Comparing the difference in how different groups of people are shown in mass media produced by different countries reveals the level of the society’s development. I recently watched several episodes of an Argentinian TV show and noticed how oppressed women still are there. Whereas in the US The Girls, The Sex in the City and many others have already given women their due places in a various jobs and occupations, in Argentina women are still confined to be secretaries and pretty homemakers.
All top-notch jobs are taken by men and are not questioned. Clearly, when consumed critically, such patterns at least should not be repeated in the viewer’s lives. With the development of technology and electronic devices, people are bombarded with an increasing number of information on a daily basis. Therefore, in order to have informed views on many topics and subjects that might be interesting for people, they should learn how to think critically and how to view the information they are exposed to impartially.
“Hostess” by Donald Mangum
All-knowing and omnipresent narrators are not as popular as they used to be. In modern fiction, readers want to be part of the process and make their own inferences based on the details supplied by the author. In a short story “Hostess,” Donald Magnum portrays a caring, kind, and thoughtful woman hosting a party without actually saying that she was caring, kind, and thoughtful; rather the author gives the readers situations and the protagonist’s reaction, and they draw their own conclusions.
The protagonist identifies herself as a hostess to a house-warming party right away, and the reader expects to see a caring person. Indeed, many people at the party need the hostess’s help. Meg got drunk and locked herself up in the single-bath unit. A line of guests who need to use the bathroom arranged in the hall. Snacks need to be laid out, drinks poured, guests well fed and taken care of in case of need. And the hostess’s guess makes up a lot of opportunities when they need her help.
Therefore, caring is the first characteristic that the reader notices about the hostess. She moves the sobbing Meg to the utility room to make the bathroom available to other drinking guests who need it too often. Then she has to pull apart the guys who decide to fight over a woman but then find out that both were talking about different women named Linda. When Melinda gets stung by a yellow jacket, the hostess could provide real help, in contrast to a caring but not really helpful Rod who tried to heal Melinda’s wasp sting by applying chewing tobacco. The hostess washed the wound and applied a meat tenderizer to cool the spot and relieve the pain. Also the hostess found a quiet place and allowed the suffering Melinda to lie down and have some rest.
However, the hostess helps people not because it is her responsibility and obligation but because she is kind. When R.L., Meg’s philandering husband, shows up, the hostess does not berate him for what he had done to his wife. Hearing his excuses of another lady kissing him she simply says, “You know what you can kiss”. The hostess keeps her anger to herself and does not humiliate him with her moralizing. In fact, she sees from his downcast look that he already regrets his behavior.
By describing R.L.’s miserable look as “a dog you’d just hauled off and kicked for no good reason”, the hostess reveals herself as a sensitive and thoughtful character. Her sensitiveness and tactfulness is also shown in taking R.L. to the utility room by the shirt rather by hand. This way she shows that she does not want to touch him in order to avoid any provocation. At the same time any kind of touch relieves his stress and is somehow comforting. Being a sensitive person, the hostess interprets R.L.’s sinking to his knees before his distraught wife as “in shame”. Saying “I just closed the door”, the hostess tactfully left them. In another case, she revealed her sensitive nature by understanding the reason why Eric left early. He had eaten a plateful of dry cat food mistaking it for snacks and had become a butt of a practical joke.
The hostess’s good qualities are also manifested through language. She expresses her compassion by adding “honey,” “sweetheart,” and “poor thing” when she addresses people or talks about them. Probably she is a believer as she uses exclamations “Sweet Christ… Dear sweet Christ in Heaven.” When they watched a TV program about a baby kangaroo being born, the hostess became so ‘wrought up’ over the new born baby kangaroo looking for its mom’s pouch that she needed to express her emotions somehow. The hostess cheered the baby kangaroo on.
However, the culmination of the hostess’s positive characteristics is when a woman dials a wrong number to inform her relatives about her sister’s demise and the hostess answers the call. She quickly grasps the situation and understands that she cannot leave the woman alone with her sorrow. She softly offers her help by saying, “You should not be alone right now… Now, I am right here.” Here the hostess demonstrates kindness by talking to the woman gently and making her best to remove all the noises and improve the connection. When the woman does not hang up, the hostess compassionately listens to her sobs until she calms down. Then she kindly asks a question about who passed away.
Judging from the hostess’s behavior and language, the reader infers that she is a kind and compassionate person. She feels subtle changes in people’s moods and feelings and is ready to help when she can. Being tuned to people’s needs, the hostess is really helpful for and considerate of her guests as well as a strange woman who calls her phone number by mistake.
“Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway
The short story “Hills Like White Elephants” is one of the best examples how Ernest Hemingway provides a minimum of information but nevertheless depicts a very vivid picture of human relationships on a few pages. Based on terse dialogues, the short story shows a couple who are going through a rough path in their relationships. Although the man wants to exhibit nobility and suggests the girl make a choice by herself, he in fact coerces her to agree to the operation she does not want to.
The reader sees the couple waiting for a train in a remote train station in Spain on a hot summer day. Providing a bare minimum of details, Hemingway implies that there is a big age difference between the man and the girl. Even though the man’s name is not mentioned, the girl’s name Jig refers to a quick dance, and the reader can draw a conclusion about a carefree nature of their relationships. In favor of this inference speak their suitcases plastered with stickers of the hotels they had been to. Obviously, the couple leads a free lifestyle traveling a lot and not having any responsibilities.
The major conflict stems from the man’s desire to maintain the status quo, while the girl wants changes in their dynamic. They do not name the exact problem but the reader is quick to guess that it refers to an abortion. The problem is as big as it can get because it is not just an operation. Behind an abortion, there is a life philosophy and the way the two people feel about each other and their future. Therefore, Hemingway indicates the greatness of the problem by referring to it in the title. When there is a problem difficult to miss, it can be named as “a white elephant in the room” as it is big and white color is attention grabbing. While the man and the girl speak about the scenery and the drinks, everyone’s mind is in fact burdened by the impending decision they should make.
The couple feel a growing alienation because the man does not want to take on new responsibilities, and the girl wants their relationships to go to the next level. The birth of a baby would mean that they treat each other seriously and want to spend life together. The man’s reluctance to have a baby reveals his superficial attitude toward the girl, and she feels hurt. That is the reason why she says that she does not care about herself. Saying, “We could have everything and every day we make it more impossible,” Jig talks about their future life and that a baby is a new stage. Meanwhile, the man is aware that his coercion cannot be accepted well. So he tries to shove the responsibility for the decision on the girl. She feels it and shuts him out by saying that she does not want to talk anymore.
From their passive-aggressive dialogue, an inference can be made that the couple feel uneasy talking about the subject. Each pretends to do and feel not what they do and feel in reality. The man wants to be seen as loving and caring, while he is egoistic and callous. He keeps saying, “I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to.” But after these words comes a ‘but’, and the girl feels that she might lose him if she does not comply. Meanwhile, Jig tries to give an impression of not caring about the operation and is ready to do it if it helps their relationship. However, she feels frightened and frustrated because the man does not act the way he should in the present situation.
Apart from a difficulty to decide whether to have an abortion or not, the girl must have understood that she loses in any case. If she has an unwelcome baby, the man will most probably dump her as he does not want an additional responsibility. If she agrees to the operation, she would be further alienated from the man and would not be as happy with him as she used to be. Therefore, for her the existing situation is more morally exhausting.
Thus, in three pages Hemingway shows a dynamic of the relationships between a man and a woman. The title, the pauses, and the dialogues speak volumes about the characters and the situation they are in. By his attention to details, Hemingway outlines the unresolved conflict which most probably would follow a typical scenario when the woman complies with male dominance and makes a decision she thinks is wrong.