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The Later Jacket Symbolism

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The later jacket of In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway conveys motion and represents the precariousness of the lives of the book’s characters. On the cover, an image of two soldiers carrying rifles and climbing up a hill is layered over the image of a young man sitting in the caboose of a steam train, leaning on a bundled blanket that is tied to its railing. The advancing soldiers and train evoke the sense of movement that frames many of the stories. We see an example of this movement in “Big Two-Hearted River: Part I,” which begins with an image of a train going “on up the track out of sight” (133) after it has dropped Nick Adams off in his hometown. The disappearing train suggests the end of one expedition and the start of another, implying…show more content…
The cover depicts a young man fishing at a lake in the forest. The trees and mountains in the background of the image evoke the natural imagery that permeates the stories, which is often symbolic of the issues that the characters face and repress. For example, in “The End of Something,” the moon “coming up over the hills” ushers in Nick and Marjorie’s split by preceding Nick’s confession that their relationship “isn’t fun anymore” (34). The rising moon represents an ending, and by using it as the backdrop to this scene, Hemingway dramatizes the very blunt, emotionless dialogue that breaks the couple up. Setting is thus instrumental in revealing or heightening the unexpressed feelings of the characters. The cover also relates to the traditional notions of masculinity that are valued by the male characters, as fishing is a stereotypically manly activity. The celebration of masculinity is evident in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” when Nick, upon hearing that his mother is calling for him, tells his father “I want to go with you,” (27) choosing to go hunting with his dad rather than speak with his mom. Masculine activities and traits are favored over feminine ones, suggesting that book’s male characters strive to fit the traditional conception of manliness. The peaceful, scenic cover reflects how masculinity is naturalized
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