Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

A. Bryant Mangum


Curiously, the issue of war has never been considered a solid basis for examining the works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Yet one common thread running through the body of their work is war. A study of the authors’ attitudes toward war and their characters’ responses to war in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), The Sun Also Rises (1926), and Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise (1920), The Great Gatsby (1925), and Tender Is the Night (1934), yields several conclusions. Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s works reveal two different types of human responses to the effects of war while the characters search for ways to attain quality in life. Both the Hemingway and Fitzgerald protagonists suffer from the chaotic environment wrought by war. However, contemporary readers should find Fitzgerald’s characters particularly relevant because they confront a dilemma that mirrors more realistically man’s struggle for salvation in modern, post-war society.

The element of war shapes the lives of both sets of characters, and yet very little criticism exists which presents war as a basis to consider any of the works by Hemingway and Fitzgerald together. The critics traditionally see war as having a major impact on the life and works of Ernest Hemingway; in contrast, most critics see war as playing no significant role in the life and works of Fitzgerald. However, both writers’ lives were shaped immensely by war. Biographically, Hemingway volunteered to serve in Italy during World War I and was a volunteer journalist in Spain during the Spanish Civil war, experiences that helped to shape his strong sense of masculinity and superiority; though Fitzgerald never served in a war, the fact helped to create his deep sense of inferiority and failure as a man. Both men’s experiences with war helped to formulate attitudes reflected in the fiction and account, in part, for the substantial differences in their approaches to theme and setting. So, the effects of war provide a valid basis for considering the lives, and subsequently, the works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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