Wu Ting
How would you interpret the last sentence? How would you interpret the last sentence ‘Fear for his soul’? Why did his niece fear for his soul? I guess his niece feared for his soul because it’s a sin for a Christian to commit suicide, right? Thank you. The excerpt is taken from the short story ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’ written by Ernest Hemingway. The excerpt: “You should have killed yourself last week,” he said to the deaf man. The old man motioned with his finger. “A little more,” he said. The waiter poured on into the glass so that the brandy slopped over and ran down the stem into the top saucer of the pile. “Thank you,” the old man said. The waiter took the bottle back inside the café. He sat down at the table with his colleague again. “He’s drunk now,” he said. “He’s drunk every night.” “What did he want to kill himself for?” “How should I know.” “How did he do it?” “He hung himself with a rope.” “Who cut him down?” “His niece.” “Why did they do it?” “Fear for his soul.”
Nov 14, 2018 9:33 AM
Answers · 11
They were afraid that his soul would be damned.
November 14, 2018
(Full text of story at: http://www.url-der.org/a_clean_well_lighted_place.pdf ) Yes, "fear for his soul" is a matter-of-fact consideration at the time and place in which the story is set. We imagine the story is taking place in "the present day" when it was written; nothing suggests otherwise. We know that the story is taking place in a Spanish-speaking country, because from time to time the quoted dialog is in Spanish. A native speaker also notices that the quoted dialog, even when it is in English, sounds almost like a literal translation of Spanish. For example, "I am of those who like to stay late at the café." (A native Engllish speaker would probably say "I am among those who..." or "I am one of those who...") Many word choices and phrases in the quoted dialog have a sort of Spanish flavor to them. Most readers probably know that Hemingway lived in Spain in the 1930s and loved the country, so in fact we assume the story is set in 1930s Spain. So we must view this story through the lens of two cultures, US and Spanish. Spain and most Spanish-speaking countries are predominantly Christian, specifically Roman Catholic. It was the official state religion of Spain for much of its history. In the 1930s most people in Spain would have been pious and devoted Catholics. "Fear for his soul" would be a natural, matter-of-fact consideration.
November 14, 2018
Yes, it is a sin for a Christian to commit suicide and his soul would not go to heaven. In olden days, a hundred and fifty years ago, suicides were buried at cross roads at night so their soul would be confused when it arose and would not know which way to go. It would therefore stay there. This resulted in people fearing crossroads at night in the UK. Additionally suicides were not allowed to be buried in concecrated ground. Hope this helps
November 14, 2018
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Wu Ting
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French
Learning Language
English