We Are Hoping For An Answer to this Hemingway Question
February 3, 2015 7:21 PM   Subscribe

At the end of Chapter 30 of A Farewell to Arms, and the beginning of Chapter 31, the narrator is floating (by himself) down a river and refers to "we" a couple of times. What's the deal?

The third sentence from the end of Chapter 30: "We passed the brush of an island above the water."

From the first paragraph of Chapter 31: "... I hoped we would move toward the shore... We went down the river in a long curve..."

And a couple other times. Is Frederic calling himself and the log "we?" As far as I can tell after a couple of rereads of these passages he isn't with anyone, and he refers to himself as "I" throughout and no longer as "we" at all after leaving the river. What's going on? Log? Royal we?

If it's the log, is there precedent for referring to oneself and some inanimate object as "we?" My computer and I want to know.
posted by papayaninja to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe it's not actually a timber, but a corpse.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:50 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

According to this analysis, "He floats down the river for some time and refers to himself and the timber as 'we.'" This analysis has basically the same conclusion: "Henry makes another connection to nature, as well. He holds on to the piece of timber to stay afloat, and thereafter refers to his and the timber's progress down the river with the first-person plural pronoun of 'we,' as in 'We went down the river in a long curve.' He and the timber are one, and Henry grammatically yokes himself to life-saving nature, not the life-killing men from whom he has escaped. " FWIW.

The whole passage (book, in fact) is here at archive.org, for anyone who wants to read it.
posted by flug at 8:08 PM on February 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

That's always how I read it too - he and the log.
posted by Hugobaron at 4:29 AM on February 4, 2015

Hm. I realize now it was a little strange for me to post this question about semantics and swap out "timber" for "log." Anyway.

I found it somewhat distracting, though I suppose I do understand the connection he was trying to make here.

I'm curious about the last part of question - any other examples where this type of gimmick device occurs in literature?
posted by papayaninja at 9:26 AM on February 4, 2015

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