Thursday, May 15, 2008

E-Squared, H-Squared

Both "Morning Sun" and "Sunday" painted by Edward Hopper demonstrate an ambiance of loneliness and peace--reoccurring themes in both "A Clean-Well Lighted Place" and "A Soldier's Home" by Ernest Hemingway.

But focusing more specifically on "Sunday," Hopper creates a solemn and lonely mood through the effective use of the contrast between light and dark and the solitary man's expression. While our brains may immediately notice the contrast between the light of the natural sun and the darkness found inside the cafe, we must take note that the dark of the cafe, contained in a rectangle, is the largest object in the painting, even exceeding the size of the lonely man. In this way, we understand that the painting is not merely a painting of a man, but a painting of darkness. This connects well with Hemingway's "A Clean-Well Lighted Place" because rather than focusing on the development of characters, Hemingway concentrates on the development of the contrasts between light and dark and young and old. Hemingway demonstrates this through the lack of attributed dialogue. Because of the vagueness of the actual speaker, Hemingway creates a disconnect, which emphasizes the light and dark motif.

But the reoccurring light and dark theme proves important in that it highlights the lonely yet peaceful natures of both the man in the painting and the old man and old waiter in the story. All of these characters experience a certain degree of peace when in the light. However, while the man in Hopper's painting sits outside, Hemingway's characters feel sheltered inside the cafe. Some may argue that this discrepancy may represent a lack of connection between the painting and the story, but with a careful look at Hopper's painting, we see that the man is indeed enclosed within the painting. Instead of leaving empty room for the sky or natural land which may indicate openness, Hopper entraps the man within the buildings. In essence, all of the men are sheltered and enclosed by a light that provides them with a place in which they can keep to themselves.

But most interesting is the man's countenance in the Hopper painting. After spending time staring at his face, we want to know more and ask questions. What is he thinking? Why is he thinking? How old is he? Does he have family? Friends? Does he enjoy his job? Does he even have a job? The same occurs for Hemingway's story but through the dialogue and the afterthought at the end of the story. Why does the old man prefer the cafe? Does the old waiter really have insomnia? What does the "nada" represent? Both circumstances are confusing but never awkward. Usually, awkward situations arise when simply staring at a single person, as in the Hopper painting. However, the viewers do not experience awkwardness but a certain level of calmness and inquisitiveness. The same occurs in the Hemingway story because the quotes are rarely attributed. While we may experience a significant disconnect with the characters, we never feel awkward. We are neither intruding upon the established peace nor the solitude because of the great amount of disconnect effectifely created.

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