Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place: Hemingway and The Iceberg Theory 12th Grade

Hemingway’s iceberg theory supposes that there is strength in a deliberate form of poverty. What is given to us is the strictest minimum: exposition relays to the audience an experience, an experience which hinges on two interlocked components: what is known and what is unknown. This interplay of the two force between what can be eliminated, what can be passed to audience speculation, contributes to the submerged “layers” of the iceberg. Omission makes the iceberg stronger. Hemingway’s works do not seek to impose, rather their messages assume that they are universal, immutable, human: need be felt, need not be explicitly stated. This “leeway” Hemingway provides can be considered his most notable stylistic technique; his texts are powerful precisely because they allow the audience to project the texture of their inner lives in the provided gaps (Zapf 153-154). “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over”, he was known to have said. The text must provide only the frame; the interior is for the audience to occupy. The surface of “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” is factual, descriptive; to probe the depths require reflective participation from the reader. It is by this that Hemingway thus creates intimacy...

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