Ernest Hemingway is an ideal example of minimalist writing that indicates adaptability in using relevant words shown in his book, “A Farewell to Arms” in which he efficiently makes use of each explanatory detail in the novel.
Another classic text that contrasts with Hemingway’s writing practice is of John Steinbeck, who writes in a much more complex manner, making the reader notice informative details, an example of his work that shows such writing is the renowned, “The Grapes of Wrath.” Steinbeck makes sure the minute details are crucial yet limited, both Steinbeck and Hemingway successfully deliver their stories to their readers, however they adopt practices that is adept to them and their target readers. Steinbeck aims attention at inter-chapters which produce a clear understanding of detail and how his writing defines this, whereas Hemingway adopts minimalism to provide freedom to the reader in order to build their understanding of the plot themselves. Hemingway is skilled at not wasting limited writing space to any futile elements of the storyline. This method is shown predominantly in short sentences, “I did not say anything. I supposed it would be worse.” (chapter 4). This quotation is very brief and straightforward, and this is steady in the novel.
Hemingway does not focus on the contextual backgrounds of the characters; other writers typically extend their writing about the character’s lives to increase the reader’s understanding. It is very evident in ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, the portrayals of characters do not have substantial roles in the plot. For example, the narration of ‘Muley Graves’, a trivial character in the story, the friend of Joads.
The amount of detail Steinbeck explains about the characters past helps the reader to understand the problem that Joad’s family had met. Nine pages long, Steinbeck describes the trial that sent Muley out of sight, hiding in Tom’s deserted home, and this delivers relevant material for the reader to grasp the state several Oklahoma farmers stood at the time of the Great Depression. “Kind a gover’ment we got that leans on us fellas is the ‘safe margin a profit (…) an’ gonna be a straw boss on lan’ his own folks used to farm” (chapter 5). It implies the destruction of Muley’s home and the seizure of his ancestral field. This portrayal is necessary since it discloses the Muley’s family’s circumstance, in which they later become dominant characters, contrasting in the technique that Hemingway follows.The clear component of Hemingway’s minimalist practice is his word preference.
He does not use complex phrases, “I had been driving and I sat in the car and the driver took the papers in” (chapter 7). By keeping his language unpretentious and simple, he debatably conveys his thoughts visibly. Eventually, the writer’s aim is to suggest their idea that is in their mind hoping to deliver his thinking to their reader via the choice of words in their writing. It is the writer’s duty to guarantee their reader that their narration is revised by the writer, who knows more about the focus than he is including in the plot (Karl 1985) .
Hemingway’s importance is of the story, and less in exaggerating his writing skill, he remains exact to his minimalist technique and achieves in demonstrating strong images without using any sort of complex language. Usually, the expression of words that are not identified as well is at times desirable for writers to progress the flow of sentences, which Hemingway accomplishes to reveal his opinions whilst keeping every element minimal and uncomplicated. This method does not demand the reader to be troubled by obstacles, it in fact allows for the smooth movement of the message to be understood by the reader. Hemingway creates the reading practice effective like the plot that he generates is simply processed by his readers. “A great deal of the language in Steinbeck’s work can be over-inflated, making it less interesting to read” Barth (2013). Barth states a thought-provoking point, in studying ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, it is hard to search for any mistakes in Steinbeck’s writing. Barth could possibly be stating to those texts that are not disclosed as obviously as Hemingway. Steinbeck deliberates that over-the-top sentences are usually required, but not compulsory.
Like Hemingway, he distinguishes that the top writers know how every phrase is vital to depict clearly to the reader. Steinbeck uses uncomplicated lexis when he describes where the characters are based in California, “on the edges of the towns, in fields, in vacant lots, the used-car yards, the wreckers’ yards, the garages with blazoned signs” (chapter 7). Here, he implies the minimalism of writing being his preference of fabricating the complete picture for his readers. Majority of the detail is articulated using inter-chapters, delivering the image of the plot, Hemingway proclaims on utilising this image by explaining this in significant detail.
Hemingway succeeds in not only his writing, he also overthrows Steinbeck to connect better with his reader, even the complicated descriptions are described in ease. Some writers to boast their descriptive writing capability use adjectives which various types of readers may not be used to, however Hemingway battles this trend and remains with his minimalist portrayal. In ‘The Farewell to Arms’, Henry and his ambulance colleagues are bombed, and this is expressed in a very natural way, connecting to his reader’s sentiments, rather than intuition. “In the jolt of my head I heard somebody crying.
I tried to move but I could not. I heard the machine-guns and rifles firing across the river and all along the river” (chapter 9). This is a complex scene where a lot of things are underway at once, but Hemingway does not avert from his simple approach, this should be holistically read to note the easiness the minimalist method marks. An intense picture created in the mind of the reader, that is understood by not using difficult language. Whereas Steinbeck writes resourcefully just like Hemingway but uses a difficult writing structure, “A small wooden house dominated the camp ground, and on the porch of the house a gasoline lantern hissed and threw its white glare in a great circle” (chapter 16).
The lantern is personified making the reader imagine the lantern seem expressive, whereas if it were Hemingway, he would write it as “the lantern floodlit the entry.” This sentence is very vivid and successfully describes the flame, completely different from Hemingway’s usage of imageries. Whilst Hemingway’s writing philosophy relies in minimalism , Steinbeck concentrates on inter-chapters that are put in inside large chapters which muddles the plot but improves the level of detail that permits Steinbeck to be in power of the plot, instead of making the reader do the hard work like Hemingway does. It is very difficult to track the plot by using inter-chapters as they disrupt the flow; the reader is preoccupied for many parts throughout the novel and then thrown right into the key storyline again is confusing. But this is an apt technique for ‘Grapes of Wrath’, since the inter-chapters are representative of the tests the family of Joad encounter to California. In fact, the inter-chapters offer the reader an interpretation of his family’s history. The reader can comprehend the financial condition the family discovers itself, and this would not be imaginable without inter-chapters, as the plot would become too unrealistic.
Hemingway administers the basics of the present using the minimalist tactic, whereas Steinbeck handles not only the detailed features of the present, he alters many of the descriptions of character’s family relationship and association to the farm. Steinbeck makes sure his reader comprehends the difficulties the family had faced in having snatched their property away from them, to search for paid work in California. Steinbeck through his writing reveals his admiration of the Oklahoma farmers who travelled to California at the time of the Great Depression . By using inter-chapters, Steinbeck has a say on the amount of courage the family had to survive. “‘You wouldn’t think jus’ reachin’ up an’ pickin’d get you in the back,’ Pa said. ‘Be awright in a couple days,’ said Tom” (chapter 25).
This implies the difficulty the family conquered in the story. Each family member fought daily in the hopes to live, even though they had no hope for the future, this was how Steinbeck conveyed his message in in-depth writing that was utilised by the help of inter-chapters. In contrast, there is no necessity for Hemingway to convey the political condition of WWI, as many readers grasp the fundamentals of conflict, which is all that is required to know of the plot. Also, the plot is not as much about the war, but more on the relationship between Henry and Catherine.
This easy narrative provides Hemingway to adhere to minimalism in the structure of the story and evade the problems of inter-chapters. Steinbeck was very detailed in his plot because he approached this in a different way than Hemingway by choosing not to write in a minimalistic method. Steinbeck writes in a method that consists of conversations as well as the judgements of the characters, suggesting the misperception that people currently were in. “What they want for six bits? If I had enough jalopies I’d retire in six months” (chapter 7).
Steinbeck prefers to expose the essence of his characters, whereas Hemingway left it to the reader to choose what his characters would interpret. “I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh – as when a black-furnace door is swung open” (chapter 9). This example suggests minimalism that is continual and provides freedom to the reader to sense Henry’s feelings, as the reader can only sense his emotions by his words, seeming that he felt quite rushed and panicked in the attack.Not many readers would prefer to decide about the progress of the plot and would prefer the writer to provide any descriptions. Hemingway provides his readers minimal information that is enough for his readers to understand the basics, letting them interpret the plot. This tactic of Steinbeck aids the reader in developing their knowledge of his plot.
The style of minimalism allows the reader be within the plot (which Hemingway accomplishes), however Steinbeck’s aim is mainly to compose his message in minute detail and be idiosyncratic in his writing.