This forty line extract of the short story Sea Change, by Ernest Hemingway, was first published in the magazine This Quarter in 1931. The story is based on a conversation overheard in the Basque Bar in Saint-Jean-de Luz, France, and also on a three-hour conversation with Gertrude Stein, about lesbians. This short story is also connected with the story “Hills Like White Elephants,” and is thus associated to the lost generation; in other words, young people that have come back from the war, and don’t see any meaning in life anymore, and thus they follow the same circular activities.
The story has also a special significance, because of the theme of homosexuality. Hemingway in fact had the suspicion that both his mother and first wife were involved in homosexual activities. The story, as in “Hills Like White Elephants,” present a man and a woman having a delicate argument. In this story, the men and women from “Hills Like White Elephants” switch places; thus it is the woman now that is trying to convince the man by being nice to him and manipulative. Thus we can see how these two stories are very similar in the context.
The girl in this story appears to be very manipulative much like the man from “Hill’s Like White Elephants,” because she is trying to make her homosexual affair sound reasonable and rational; while she is pretending to still have feelings for the man, and that she loves him. She us in fact trying to get his approval of the lesbian affair, and wants to make sure that he will accept her back after her fling is over. Thus we can infer how she wants to have this affair one way or another, even though Phil agrees to it or not.
So, she appears to be manipulating Phil, by presenting the affair as something utterly unavoidable, as if it was destiny for her to have that affair. She insists on this, asking Phil to be “good to [her] and let [her] go,” she even tries to make him think that she can be forgiven since she told him about it; “you can’t forgive me? When you know about it? ” She is so manipulative, that she wants to compare the things that Phil and her have done with a lesbian affair, “you don’t think things we’ve had and done should make any difference in understanding?
” Thus she is hinting that Phil and her have done many things, that are not very dissimilar to a lesbian affair; this hints to the fact that they both might have had other affairs besides their relationship, but they are ignoring it. This brings out the lost generation; having sex randomly just for pleasure, seeing no meaning in life. She furthers this image later on, when she mentions that “we’r made up of all sorts of things. You’ve known that. You’ve used it well enough.
” So, she is trying to make him feel guilty; as if he was willing to indulge himself in his own pleasures (other affairs) whenever he wanted, in the past, but he wont let her indulge in her pleasures. Thus, she is manipulating Phil, trying to get him to understand her, and let her go, and then accept her back. Phil however, who is willing to change this irresponsible life that they both had, does not want to agree to her lesbian affair. Through out the whole extract, the girl keeps trying to get Phil’s approval, manipulating him and his ideas.
The man, Phil, at the beginning makes the reader feel sorry for him, as we might feel sorry for Jig, in “Hills Like White Elephants. ” However, we understand that he only wants this own way, and he is jealous, since the lesbian affair threatens his image, and thus he is not willing to agree, and let her go. Thus, as we enter this extract, we lose sympathy for him, because in the past he has pretty much had it his “own way,” for a “long time. ” Here, we infer that he has probably been leading the relationship in the past, just as the man in “Hills Like White Elephants,” and the girl was submitted to his will.
Also, when the girl refers to “things we’ve had and done” in the past, we get the idea that the man had had his own way for a long time, possibly having other pleasures except her. He has in fact used the phrase “We’r made up of all sorts of things” in the past, when it was convenient for him. Thus we see that the man only wants his own way, and he would not let the girl have her own way; these past quotes hint how in the past it has always been like this, and the man wants it to stay this way. He is also jealous of the fact that she is going to sleep with another woman, even though he has done so himself many times.
We can see his jealousy when he expresses her homosexual affair as a “vice2 and a “perversion. ” He thus quotes a famous quote by Alexander Pope: ” Vice is a monster of such fearful mien” “that to be something or other needs but to be seen. Then we something something, embrace. ” Here, apart from his jealousy, we can see how the men has poor culture and education, since he can’t remember the complete phrase: “Vice is a monster of such frightful mien, /As to be hated needs but to be seen;/Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,/We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
” Apart from his jealousy, and selfishness, we see that this last phrase by Alexandar Pope, may hint to the man’s relationship with the girl, and how disastrous it is, based on vices, that they both share, and nothing else. So, the men appears to be sharing similar vices as the girl, even more probably; however, he doesn’t want the girl to have her own pleasure, thus he is shown as selfish and jealous.