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Though at first glance, Hemmingway’s Death in the Afternoon appears to center around his fascination with the sport of bullfighting, and his opinions in regards to its audience as well as the actual physical contest, it can be seen that there are sprinkles of his deep thought process throughout this work. It would be apparent that the book is as much about bullfighting and the exploration of Spanish history, as it is about Hemmingway’s self-exploration. His work is as much an autobiography as it is about a book detailing his experiences in Spain, one can see that he peppers his personal opinion in this text very often, giving readers a better idea as to his personal state while learning more about his travels. To further elaborate, Hemmingway expresses several personal narratives, detailing his personal experiences and his shock with the act of bullfighting nonetheless, continuing to learn more about the event, as he was incredibly determined in ensuring that his book would properly portray this sport for his readers. One can see that Hemmingway does not hold anything back from his readers, he writes the positive and the negative of everything he sees and feels, and this in itself is a deep illustration and further insight into who Hemmingway was, not just as a writer, but as a person. To expound further, one might be fascinated by his experiences, and in the other, one might be more taken aback by his cruel and rude remarks.
One of the earliest glimpses of the writer’s self-portrait, is his critique of other writers. He even goes further as to accuse them of being sexually repressed, and that this sense of frustration affected their writing, and their writing would be easily salvaged if they were able to properly find an outlet for this carnal energy. Thus, one can see that, as previously mentioned, Hemmingway’s death in the afternoon has many themes, but one theme that can easily be ignored is his personal portrayal. In essence, he is not just a writer who reports what happens in the ring, he is a writer who expresses his true feelings through personal anecdotes as well as opinions, albeit rude at times. One must read in depth, in order to have a thorough enough understanding of what the work details, as this portrayal, though not always positive, is accurate.
Further evidence corroborating this claim can be found in chapter 1, as it seems that Hemingway’s main thread still revolves around bullfighting, however, he cannot keep himself from going off tangent, preferring to pepper his writing with personal anecdotes and making lengthy commentary on other subjects. He even mentions his first interest in bullfighting and how his fascination with such a foreign sport even came to his attention, attributing it to the influence of Gertrude Stein. Another anecdote that Hemingway expounds on would be how the cruelty in bullfighting can influence people’s perceptions of the sport, even going as far as mentioning his love for his pet cats. To sum up, one can see the subtle personal narratives Hemingway manages to sprinkle all throughout his book, though the topic still revolves around bullfighting, it is impossible to ignore the amusing personal portrayals represented in death in the afternoon.
The last point to expound on, that further confirms the aforementioned, would be when Hemmingway occasionally addresses his reader in second person-pronoun, to enhance the comfort of the reader, as this feels more like a dialogue between the audience and the author, further propelling the sentiment of intellectual exchange. In addition to his subtle grammatical shifts, he weaves the character of the old woman into the literary narrative as a vehicle to convey his own personal views and emotions regarding the sport, as her main role is to ask him questions and to seek his personal stance. This is a clever narrative device through which the author is able to integrate his own personal sentiment without betraying himself.
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