If anything is to be learned from wars it is that nothing that is to be learned from them is to be communicated through stories about wars. Our mistake – us as a civilization – is that we have not learned this, yet. So anything we learn from wars we continue to convey through stories about wars.
Hemingway understood wars, however, not completely. Not completely for he could not convey his messages about wars without recreating wars. Perhaps because: either A) he could not separate what he had learned (by being in wars) from his personal trauma or B) he felt that he could not convey that which he had learned (by being in wars) without conveying its infinite destructive potential (not doing the justice without conveying it). The very construct that should not be recreated in individuals’ (readers’) minds.
I think Hemingway’s understanding of injustice and inequality – without the war element – had been incomparably better.
The Old Man and the Sea comments on wealth, poverty, justice and inequality without ever referring to any of them – directly or indirectly. The main character’s life is a self contained reality.
The entire novel depicts a brief moment in a life of a human being that is not attempting to do anything else except love that very moment for exactly what it is.
The full reality, which we – the readers – know exists, is not mentioned anywhere in the novel. However, it is what shapes the main character’s life. The absence of the forces that create the seemingly inescapable poverty and inequality dimensions of the novel is what forces us to create them in our own minds. Or, the absence of the forces that shape the main character’s life is what implies them.
A parallel can be drawn between the main character’s life and our own lives.
To realize that most of us lead our lives without ever considering the location or properties of the forces that create our lives is to begin to realize that we are separated from those force by an invisible barrier that we have to identify and destroy.
If we could examine the elements that create wars (fear, hate, greed, control), without getting distracted by acts of violence conveyed through war stories, perhaps we could begin to identify and connect with causes and consequences of wars. And if we could identify and connect with specific causes and consequences within ourselves, rather than acts of violence, perhaps we could begin to connect with them in other people – thus transcending hate and fear.
To portray violence, in any form, is to fail to understand its destructiveness.