"Death in the Afternoon" discussion questions

From: Ted
Sent on: Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:12 PM
Hi All,

sorry this is so late, this month was a little more difficult than past ones, and the book was a bit more difficult too.

I'm looking forward to seeing those who can make it tomorrow.



1. How should we categorize "Death in the Afternoon"? Is it journalism? Travelogue? Literary criticism? Art history? A manifesto? Autobiography? Allegory?
2. Hemingway starts the book saying his goal was to learn how to write about violent death. He writes that he wanted to get at "the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion and which would be as valid in a year or in ten years or, with luck and if you stated it purely enough." Does he succeed?
3. Hemingway writes about contrasting values: courage versus cowardice, authenticity versus decadence. How do those terms apply differently to bulls, bullfighters and writers?
4. In light of the above question, what is the relationship between knowledge and courage? For example, the bullfighter who has been gored, has direct knowledge of the danger he faces, may stop taking risks, according to Hemingway.
5. Why is the "old lady" brought into the story through dialogues and why is she taken out a few chapters later? (At least one literary critic believes the old lady is an unflattering portrait of Gertrude Stein)
6. Hemingway discusses the iceberg theory at the end of Chapter 16 about the writer should be so knowledgeable about his subject that he can leave things out and not create holes in the story. We only see the tip of the iceberg but most of most of it is submerged. Does this book follow that model?
7. In Chapter 7, Hemingway says it is necessary to see a bullfight. But he knew his American audience wouldn't have ready access to bullfights, so what's the point he's trying to make?
8. Is Hemingway thumbing his nose at middle-class values when describing his journey into becoming a bullfighting afficionado?
9. How does the random death described in a "Natural History of the Dead" in Chapter 12 compare to the ritualized death in the bullring?
10. Hemingway ends the book with a chapter that begins with a poetic stream of consciousness description of sights and sounds and experiences. Why didn't he "include" those things in the book, as he puts it?

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