"The times, they are a changing," famous words spoken by Bob Dylan, a king of his generation. "Lost generations," is an interesting phrase, but what kind of meaning should it hold? Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time is a true representation of a "lost generation" for the simple reason that all generations are eventually lost as time goes by. Hemingway focuses on a generation he knows a great deal about- his own. It becomes apparent throughout the novel that Hemingway is trying to give the reader a feel for what times were like(or at least what he wanted or perceived them to be like) and knowingly or maybe even somewhat inadvertently conveys a message about the time period in question. All of the "messages" bring the reader to an understanding of a generation, the "lost generation" that appears to result from Hemingway's novel.
Ernest Hemingway uses intense short stories to leave a feeling of awe and wonder in the reader of In Our Time. One begins to become emotionally involved and attached to Hemingway's many stories, just as he himself appears to hold some personal attachment and emotion to each story. One could even speculate that In Our Time's main character Nick, is in fact, Hemingway himself. It seems as though no matter what age this novel is read at, it could be discussed as a representation of the "lost generation." What is meant by the phrase "lost generation?" Possibly it means the loss of a kindlier, friendlier, period of time. Maybe it means a loss of familiarity, closeness and strength of relationships; everyday things like the lost art of conversation. But at the same time, the characters in the stories appear to be part of a "lost generation" themselves. In "The Three- Day Blow," Nick and Bill spend a leisurely afternoon talking about baseball and books while enjoying a good "ole'" bottle of Irish whiskey. They manage to pass the time talking rather than watching "television" or going to the "mall," things that are all too common today. This leisure time seems like a pastime that has all been but outlawed in today's fast paced modern society. They seem to get by on nothing else but their own company and do not adhere to any outside interference- they do not need any other means of entertainment to enhance their time together. It is just the two of them and a good bottle of whiskey- no more, no less. Hemingway's stories seem to have a vintage, old- fashioned kind of feel to them, but at the same time portray and somewhat relate to modern times. They all seem to have some kind of moral dilemma or moral awareness in them. All the characters appear to be searching for something, although they are not all consciously aware of what or where or even why fate has brought them to the place in time they are in. "Cat in the Rain" depicts a so- called happily married couple on some sort of a vacation in Spain, spending a day inside(apparently by the husband's choice) due to the bad weather. The wife seems to be searching for something to fill a void inside of her. She speaks of a cat in the rain- her answer to the void(or so she thinks). She goes down to retrieve it but cannot find it. She tells her disinterested about the event. It is clear that it is indeed her husband that has created the void due to the lack of attention he pays to his wife. The cat is simply a metaphor for her needs. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door and a maid appears with a cat in her hands. The manager downstairs gave it to her, finally, someone who would pay her the attention she craved. This story seemed to represent the "lost generation" of love between a husband and his wife and ended with a bitter twist showing how easy it was to find attention from someone or somewhere else. This story depicted the deterioration of marriage in Western society and how two people can easily grow apart in a big world. Another lost generation.
The phrase "lost generation" can be highly speculated on and can be interpreted in many ways. For instance, in chapter 13, the short story "My Old Man," seems to bring about much emotion. This story is told by a man's son(Joe), who talks about what living with his father was like. He exhibits a great amount of pride and compassion towards his father and their lifestyle. His father is basically a representation of all that is good and solid in Joe's world. Joe is a part of his father's generation more than he is a part of his own, and knows no other way to be. This story represented the "lost generation" because it focused on a tight, close-knit relationship between a father and his son, something that is not as common today. For instance, when Joe overs someone call his father "you son of a bitch," he says he begins to feel "sick inside" and he did not understand "how anybody could call my old man a son of a bitch and get away with it." When his father in the end is killed by a horse racing accident Joe begins to cry uncontrollably and feels an enormous sense of loss; the loss not only of his father's generation, but the loss of part of his own. Now he is forced to face his own generation, one completely unlike his father's generation.
Finally, the novel seems to end similarly to the way it began. In the last two stories, "Big Two- Hearted River Part I" and "Big Two-Hearted River Part II," we are embraced by the same character, Nick, who appears to be as disconcerted as ever. He is on a fishing trip, his favourite pastime, only this time he is by himself. While on his trip, he thinks about old times, present times, and even a little unconsciously, times to come. He thinks of friends, times with friends, and even sort of clues into how things have changed. He seemed to come to the realization of how everything had changed- "even the surface had been burned to the ground." He remembers similar fishing trips he had taken with his friends Hopkins and Bill. "Hopkins left when the telegram came," "it broke up the trip," "they all said good- bye and all felt bad,"- "they never saw Hopkins again." Nick seems to come to the realization that people change, times change, and life itself changes. It appeared that Nick went fishing to try and make time stand still, to somehow relive the past and try and make new "old" memories. He soon realizes that the past is a past never to be recaptured ever again. He may not want to admit this to himself, but it shines through when he decides not to "fish in the swamp." "There were plenty of days coming when he could fish the swamp," but in fact, there probably were not. Nick did not want to let go of the past, but he knew it was out of his hands now. Times were inevitably changing, and when times change, generations are lost and live only in the memories of those who experienced them.
When someone says, what is a "lost generation," how do you reply? A lost generation is lost time, a lost way of doing things, and lost lives. But are generations ever truly "lost?" When we think of past generations do we tend to cloud our minds by thinking the past generation was better(or maybe worse) than present or future generations? Do we lose sight of things or do we just do things not necessarily worse, but different and more enhanced than the we did things in the past. Everyone has their time in the sun, their fifteen minutes of fame, and their fondest memories. No one can take away, alter, or make those memories seem insignificant but the person themselves. Who is to say that because things change and are different that one cannot continue "living." Enjoy your time in your own generation but have no fear in making or participating in a new generation. Life is short, so why not just enjoy living?