Hemingway And


Hemingway And “Nada” Essay, Research Paper

Hemingway and “Nada”

In “The light of the world” written by Ernest Hemingway Steve Ketchel, a

boxer symbolizes a Jesus figure for a woman called Alice. Alice, a 350 pound,

unpleasant prostitute struggles with her current life. Her central being focuses

at the belief that she had a sexual relationship with Steve Ketchel. This

wishful illusion arises from a complex she has because of her ugly and

unpleasant appearance. Nick Adams, the main Hemingway character, believes that

Alice, although she has really given up her life, still has the chance to change

and live a happy life. Steven K. Hoffman would call this belief Alice has “nada”.

Nada is a term used in Hemingways story “A clean well lighted place”. Steven

K. Hoffman interpreted the word in an Essay he wrote. The word nada translated

to English, basically means “nothing”. But further it means much more than the

simple word nothing.

Nada from the point of Alice’s view means that there is nothing behind of

her belief. That means that her life is not based on a concrete belief. She does

not believe in any religion; her religion is Ketchel. That arises from her place

in society. In society she is ranked very low. A prostitute has nothing to say

in our society. And since she is that low she cant set her goals higher. Her

goals could be the goals Jesus talks about. Her goal in life was and still is to

sleep with more and more guys. Back to nada it means that she has nothing;

nothing to believe in and nothing to live for.

Alice lives in an illusion. It seems that she suppresses the fact that she

is a fat prostitute. How much lower can you get? She suppresses her problems

with her dreams and illusions. The most important belief is that she had a

sexual relationship with Ketchel. That is her main belief. For a normal American,

Jesus would the most important belief. Ketchel gives her the strength to

withstand her complexes. Ketchel in other words symbolizes Jesus. That is of

course very sad. When comparing Jesus with Ketchel, you will not find any

connecting. Ketchel is just a popular boxer among her friends and she knows

nothing more of him. For her Ketchel is more than just a man to have sex with.

As said, for her Ketchel is Jesus. “There was never a man like that.”, said


Alice did not succeed in her life. Not that it is over, but till now she did

not make herself happy. She is unhappy, she is a prostitute and the most

important; she has no belief. Her belief is as stated above Ketchel. As it seems

she does not want to change. “Leave me with my memories … With my true,

wonderful memories.” Notice how she insist that her memories are true. She is

living a lie.

The only person who seems to see Alice in a different way is Nick Adams.

Nick Adams is found in most of the Hemingway stories. What I conclude then is

that Nick represents Hemingway in each story. Further this could mean that

Hemingway himself found that a person like Alice still has the potential to

change. Nick saw Alice as a nice person of her own. Not like the others see her.

They see her as a fat whore. They don’t see the good sides, but stop looking

when they see her appearance. Nick on the other hand sees Alice as a attractive

girl, not in the sense of having sex. That is probably what Alice wanted from

Steve. She wants somebody who respects her. Ketchel is a illusion, but Nick is

not. He is real and could be a real memory. This way she could change and

therefor change her belief.

In conclusion I see that Hemingway offers a solution to Alice. Nick Adams is

the embodiment of Hemingway. If Alice would join a real Ketchel, such as Nick

she would rehabilitate and become a happy human being. Then she could believe in

something more intelligent, such as the real Jesus figure. Since a boxer is not

the kind of person to take as a belief.

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