In Our Time reflects the mood of an era, the early ’20s. Hemingway follows a central character, Nick, through fragments of his childhood and adulthood, and pieces of wartime that Nick lives through culminating with Nick’s endless solitude in a solo fishing trip. Though Hemingway focuses on Nick for the majority of the novel, In Our Time, in standard modernist eccentrism, is constructed from terse segments of other lives as well. In Our Time is more than just a coming of age novel, but rather, a novel of the ages, a mood to be felt and acknowledged.
The short segments are sandwiched between vignettes which begin as clips from wartime scenes, some including Nick, and which slowly transform into matador segments. A little history tells us that Hemingway’s style comes from his journalism days, in which short and concise language was the standard, and direct, to-the-point description becomes the style for which he is famed.
To this day, Hemingway’s style reflects modern masculinity’s ideal: the unemotional, staunchly misogynistic male, a fascination for seclusion, fishing, hard liquor, and male-male relationships. At times Hemingway’s strong point is also his down point, as his strict, concise description can lead to redundancy and too-direct sentences that throw details at the readers with no subtlety or precision. Nothing is left to interpretation, nothing left to be inferred. Flat, blank description and dialogue sometimes leaves the reader distanced from what should be a sympathetic scene. Nevertheless, Hemingway creates an intriguing first publication.