Arts Books

To Have and Have Not

to have and have not

To Have and Have Not was written by Ernest Hemingway.  It his second novel set in the United StatesThe Torrents of Spring was the first.  Charles Scribner’s Sons published the work in 1937.  To Have and Have Not was formed from two of Hemingway’s published short stories (The Tradesman’s Return and One Trip Across) and a novella.  The book was met with unfavorable reviews, but did well in the marketplace.  

The Great Depression shocks the marketplace.  The chaos spreads.  The working man feels the most pain.  Harry Morgan is included.  He uses his fishing boat to support his family.  He depends on the wealthy to put food on his table.  Morgan despises the rich.  His boat charters pay the bills.  The goal is to feed and clothe his wife and daughters.  He is not dissolute.  He is willing to do whatever it takes to survive.

The upper-class are destructive and depraved.  Their behavior is capricious.  Harry has several opinions.  The circumstances tend to voyeurism.  His opinions turn.  His mind moves.  His is one of the have nots and shares the pain.  The haves complicate the philosophy.  The admission is important.  Is his life symbiotic or parasitic?  There is room for evolution.  Maybe simple contemplation.  

hemingway is
The author – Photo Credit: tonynetone


The fishing charters are crowded with sportsman.  The days are long.  The water is blue.  The sky changes colors.  Time passes.  There is money on the table.  Harry is determined that the end justifies the means.  He smuggles liquor and transports illegal immigrants.  The smuggling gains a heartbeat.  It has a pulse.  The pulsation is a metaphor or maybe it is not.  There are interactions with the mob and his boat.  Sometimes the story lacks cohesion.  Hemingway is still present.  

To Have and Have Not continues.  Life pushes Harry Morgan to the edge.  He has to adapt.  There are no shortcuts.  Everything has consequences.  Johnson hires him for a three-week fishing adventure.  Damages from the journey are left unpaid.  So is the charter.  The captain of the ship turns to whiskey and crime.  The alcohol is transported.  A wealthy bystander observers the smuggler.  The have not is reported.  Harry loses his ship and his sole source of income.  The witnessed is distraught.  

Richard Gordon is a writer and has a wife.  They both have acquaintances and some are lovers.  Ernest drones on about his opinions.  The incoherence deepens.  His youth is incandescent.  Everything feels incomplete  Gordon’s introduction is to enhance the animalistic nature and honesty of Morgan.  The primer fades as it lengthens.  The lens becomes unfocused.  Words continue to progress the plot. 

to have and have not
To Have – Photo Credit: phvolmer


Harry goes deeper into the moral void.  His vision blurs.  Maybe it is internal.  There is no critique on his eyesight.  Everyone is crooked.  The lawyers are evil.  He is paid to transport Chinese immigrants into Florida from Cuba.  His employees are flawed.  One is a drunk.  Their shortcomings are long.  The humans that have are magnitudes worse.  Their lifestyle is rife with decay.  It is impossible to remove the rot as it spreads and deepens.  It manifests without a destiny.  A destination.  The realization does not dilute the climax.  

Freddy lends his boat to Morgan to transport four Cubans.  The Cubans commit a crime.  They rob a bank and board the boat.  They kill Harry’s crew member.  He has no time to mourn or dwell on the moral implications.  The deceased is tossed overboard.  The rage builds.  He dismantles the weaponry and kills the Cubans.  He is wounded in the process. The spilled blood thickens.  It coagulates.  The wound is deep.  

The boat drifts on.  The waves hit the sides of it.  The coast Guard arrives.  They survey the scene and digest the chaos.  They are impressed that Morgan was able to kill all four of the criminals.  It was a hairy situation.  Harry agrees.  Mortality sets in.  People die.  The words are all forgotten.  To Have and Have Not ends.

Cuba – Photo Credit: szeke

“In the old days he would not have worried, but the fighting part of him was tired now, along with the other part, and he was alone in all of this now and he lay on the big, wide, old bed and could neither read nor sleep.”

– Ernest Hemingway (To Have and Have Not).
cuba 2
More Cuba – Photo Credit: szeke

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