‘A Pursuit Race' is a short story in Ernest Hemingway's ‘Men Without Women' which is narrated from an omniscient point of view and which incorporates more precisely a heterodiegetic narrator. Here, the author knows everything and reveals to us the motivations, thoughts and feelings, details about the characters.
The story takes place at Kansas City on the Pacific coast. William Campbell, an old man who works for the burlesque show, and Mr Turner, the manager of this burlesque show, are the two protagonists. More exactly, the scene takes place within William's bedroom. Whilst this former is lying in bed, Mr Turner comes in and then they start to talk.
This story, through a dialogue and some external descriptions, explains the despair of William who assumes an increasingly pitiful characteristic through the text because of his actions but especially his behavior.
Besides, his state of mind leads him to have a particular elocution which is full of metaphors and in this way, William plays with his interlocutor. Then, with positive and negative appreciations about the two protagonists, we will see how Hemingway gradually modifies our perception over the course of the story.
[...] I ) Hopelessness The first paragraph begins with the presentation of what is a pursuit race. Also, the author describes these kind of courses in order to introduce his first protagonist, William Campbell, and he adds a wordplay referring to the pursuit race : ‘The burlesque show caught William Campbell at Kansas City' (p.112). In the second paragraph, we get more details about Campbell and his relationship to the burlesque show : ‘(…) he preceded the burlesque show as advance man he was being paid' (p.112). [...]
[...] In this brief story, Hemingway reminds us the human condition. Broadly speaking, this short story explains the deep sadness in which William is. Even if the readers could not explicitly understand the various reasons of William's sorrow, his behavior and the fact that he is alcoholic and uses drugs can make us think that he chooses an unforgiving way like heroes in Greek mythology. Also, although Mr Turner tempts to help him the result ends in a failure and therefore, William seems to abandon the society with some drugs and alcohol which make him hallucinate. [...]
[...] He's just like he always was.' (p.114). Even if the wolf is an element of William's delirious imagination because of the drugs, it could have several meanings. On the one hand, the wolf can represents his nightmares, thoughts and feelings thus, his old devils, that is to say formers things he is not proud of and that he wants to forget but these one reappear. Then, the wolf can still represents William's ravenous need for more narcotics as the time between shots diminishes and alcohol's effects decrease. [...]
[...] In other words, he compares women to animals using derogatives words about them. At this point, we could imagine that he had known a great love with a woman which had become mischievous. In addition, he adds a sentence which is a kind of pretext for his drugs and alcohol addictions putting us on this way of thinking : ‘If you love women you'll get a dose' (p.116). Therefore, our perception about William all along the text. III ) Evolution of Perception At first sight, the two protagonists are globally presented and then we can see a contrast between William who has given up the ‘race' and Mr Turner who responds to its duties while attempting to revive the other's interest in it. [...]
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