The End of Something Short: Hemingway's Use of Repetition as A Closing Device in Five Short Stories

9 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2016

Date Written: July 21, 2016


Note: This paper was presented at the 17th Biennial International Hemingway Society Conference on July 21, 2016, at Dominican University.

The “zero ending” holds a prominent place in discussions about the craft and technical aspects of the short stories written by Ernest Hemingway. Scholars believe his use of it was influenced by the works of Anton Chekhov. Scholar Robert Paul Lamb discusses the “zero ending,” but he goes further in his analysis of Hemingway and introduces several new terms. In addition to the “open ending,” he presents the “rounded closed ending,” the “seeded closed ending,” and the “float-off.” Lamb’s efforts are noted in his critical research on Hemingway’s short story aesthetics.

Although Lamb and other scholars have made notable contributions on Hemingway’s work as it relates to various techniques and literary devices, they have not adequately addressed his use of repetition in the closing sections of his short stories.

This study, based on a comparative analysis of the stories, takes a closer look at this technique and offers a new way of understanding Hemingway’s craft. Specifically, this study focuses on his use of repetition as a closing device in five short stories, in order to show how he experimented and grew as a writer. The selected stories are featured in The Short Stories: The First Forty-Nine Stories with a Brief Preface by the Author. They include: “Up in Michigan,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “The Three-Day Blow,” “In Another Country,” and “Ten Indians.”

This paper aims to extend the research on Hemingway’s writings. It argues explicitly for a new term or concept for his short story endings that relates specifically to his use of repetition. Having a new concept for current discussions should aid in moving the conversation beyond the “zero ending” and other previously discussed terms on this topic. A new concept may also serve as a lens through which the readers may see Hemingway’s use of repetition in a new light.

In conclusion, it may be said that one cannot fully appreciate the genius of Hemingway’s craft without understanding the way in which he opened and ended his short stories. This study, which highlights his use of repetition in a way that has not been previously discussed in detail, is designed to shed light on the engaging way in which he ended a few of his stories.

Keywords: Ernest Hemingway, English Literature, American Authors, Zero Ending, Short Story, Fiction, Writing

Suggested Citation

Barnes III, Roscoe, The End of Something Short: Hemingway's Use of Repetition as A Closing Device in Five Short Stories (July 21, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

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