Title page for ETD etd-0831103-223008

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Lepschy, Wolfgang
Author's Email Address wlepsch@lsu.edu
URN etd-0831103-223008
Title Of Fathers and Sons: Generational Conflicts and Literary Lineage--The Case of Ernest Hemingway and Ernest Gaines
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
John Lowe Committee Chair
J. Gerald Kennedy Committee Member
James Olney Committee Member
Nghana Lewis Committee Member
William Cooper Dean's Representative
  • Native American
  • family
  • Nick Adams
  • oral
  • voice
  • existentialism
  • community
  • individual
  • Turgenev
  • influence
  • Ojibway
  • African American
  • history
Date of Defense 2003-07-21
Availability unrestricted
Focusing on the depiction of the father-son relationship and the generational conflicts in their works, as well as the metaphorical literary father-son relationship between the two authors, this dissertation offers an intertextual reading of the works of Ernest Hemingway and Ernest J. Gaines.

Part One examines Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories that feature the young hero’s growing disillusionment with and eventual rejection of his home and family. Parodying conventional stereotypes about Native American ways of life, Hemingway deconstructs prevailing notions of race by aligning Nick’s father with the wilderness and the Indians. Gaines’s earliest short stories focus on a reunion of the historically-divided African American family. Deconstructing traditional views of gender, Gaines emphasizes the concept of the African American extended and surrogate family as ever-changing.

Part Two shifts the focus from the son to the fathers. Hemingway’s seminal story “Fathers and Sons” presents a cyclical view of time, according to which the son runs the risk of repeating the father’s mistakes. The father’s “sins,” especially his suicide, are not resolved until Robert Jordan sacrifices himself for his friends at the end of For Whom the Bell Tolls and thus becomes a “father” to others. The discussion of Gaines’s two major novels on the perspective of fathers, In My Father's House and A Gathering of Old Men, demonstrates how the generational gap can be bridged.

Part Three analyzes the metaphorical father-son relationship between Hemingway and Gaines. Using Harold Bloom’s anxiety-of-influence theory as a model, and Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons as the original text both Hemingway and Gaines studied and “misread,” this section compares and contrasts the generational conflicts in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Gaines’s Catherine Carmier and A Lesson Before Dying.

The conclusion looks at Hemingway’s and Gaines’s works as instances of life-writing and places the two writers in two different traditions, with Hemingway representing a Western form of autobiography that emphasizes the individual and with Gaines representing an African form of autobiography that stresses the interdependence of individual and group experience.

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