The themes of loneliness and alienation are shared among all writers of the Lost Generation. The desire to find a home and return to everyday life after the war influenced the styles of Hemingway and Faulkner. Similar life experiences encourage writers to depict events in dark tones, full of ambiguity with vague and unclear closure. However, the main difference is the images through which they illustrate ideas. Ernest Hemingway had the best approach to depicting alienation through semantic structure and character formation.
The point of contrast between similar styles comes in several aspects. Faulkner and Hemingway utilized opposite structural schemes of the sentences to convey thoughts. While Hemingway relied on short sentences without clear connections, Faulkner used complex and interconnected syntax to tie ideas together. This aspect indicates how Faulkner created the meaning hierarchy in the sentence, providing more context to the reader and establishing the chain of thoughts and events. On the other hand, Hemingway kept sentences simple and short; one thought was divided into different syntactic groups, consequently illustrating independent meanings that may be perceived differently from the reader’s point of view. Therefore, Faulkner navigated the audience through the text, while Hemingway left people alone in the process of understanding the relations between phrases.
The syntactic feature is closely related to the whole concept of depicting alienation in prose. Two authors built entirely different characters’ schemes regardless of their external resemblance. According to Honeini, Hemingway wrote his characters as a universal archetype that can be perceived through the lens of personal experience; at the same time, Faulkner had peculiar characters with unique experiences and stories (486-489). This feature may be seen as the main advantage of Hemingway’s style over Faulkner’s. The proof of this statement could be found in the works of authors, comparing the images of Jake from The Sun Also Rises and Donald from Soldiers’ Pay.
Both protagonists are former soldiers that returned home after being heavily wounded and are looking for peace and home in life after battles. The approach to exploring personalities is similar in both texts because the authors focused on the behavior of the men and showed how the surroundings reacted to their changed appearance and attitudes. However, the first difference is in the type of wound the man received – Donald returned with a scarred face, blinded, and Jake suffered an injury in the genitals. Throughout the plot, readers can see how society perceives the mutilated appearance of Donald, which leaves him feeling lonely in the crowd as he does not belong (Honeini, 491). However, Jake’s look remains the same as the surroundings; no one can see his scars, which at the same time corrupt his mind, and humiliate him. The feeling of alienation here is private and, at the same time, universal in the sense that it is invisible to everyone except the protagonist, revealing deeper associations between the concept of loneliness and person. In the same pattern, as Hemingway allows readers to establish intertextual connections, he empowers us to link the feeling of alienation to every individual in the text and outside it.
Therefore, regardless of various similarities between Hemingway’s and Faulkner’s writing styles, the depiction of the concept of loneliness is illustrated more clearer in the works of Hemingway. He left a considerable part of the understanding to the readers, such as syntactic connections, chained meanings, and characters’ feelings. The alienation shown through individual experience, remaining hidden from society, allows everyone to apply it through the lens of personal perception.
Honeini, Ahmed. “Wounded Soldiers Seeking Home: William Faulkner’s Soldiers’ Pay and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.” Mississippi Quarterly, vol. 72 no. 4, 2019, p. 485-501. Project MUSE.