Literature Study GuidesA Moveable FeastHawks Do Not Share Summary

A Moveable Feast | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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A Moveable Feast | Hawks Do Not Share | Summary



Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson are invited to lunch with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and their young daughter. Fitzgerald shows Hemingway with "impersonal pride" the ledger in which he lists the sales and royalties he has earned from his writing. Zelda is hung over; she and Fitzgerald fought the previous night about his decision not to drink. Outwardly polite, Zelda seems far away and not fully present. She has "hawk's eyes and a thin mouth."

Zelda is jealous of Fitzgerald's work, smiling when he drinks too much because she knows he won't be able to write later. She has a pattern of dragging him to parties whenever he swears off drinking. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, is passionately in love with her. The two used to have a habit of drinking themselves into unconsciousness together, but now Zelda drinks more than Fitzgerald and is often drunk. Each day Fitzgerald is trying and failing to work. He blames Paris, though Hemingway thinks there's no better city for a writer. Fitzgerald wants to find a place where he and Zelda will be happy.

Hemingway tries to convince Fitzgerald his stories will be better if he doesn't "trick them to conform to any formula." Fitzgerald protests that he needs to write stories that will sell. In the summer of 1925 Fitzgerald writes only one good story. When Hemingway returns from his summer travels, he sees a change in Fitzgerald, who now is drinking in the daytime and behaving more rudely to people he considers his inferiors, including the proprietor of his building. A loyal friend when sober, when drunk Fitzgerald interferes with everyone, even Hemingway, and seems to enjoy interrupting his friend's writing just as Zelda enjoys interrupting her husband's. He is upset, too, when Hemingway won't show him the first draft of The Sun Also Rises.

The year after, Fitzgerald is sober again, and he invites Hemingway to join him and Zelda at their villa in Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera. Hemingway, his second wife, Pauline, and a few other writers, "the MacLeishes, the Murphys, the Fitzgeralds" have a good time at the villa, drinking in moderation and enjoying each other's company. Even Zelda seems well. Hemingway thinks the Fitzgeralds will be alright when Zelda whispers to him, "Don't you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?" (Al Jolson was a popular, often black-faced, singer and actor in the 1920s.) He doesn't think much of the comment at the time but reflects, "Scott did not write anything else good" until after he learned about Zelda's mental illness. Zelda is a beautiful but a dangerous and destructive creature who, like a hawk, does not share.


F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife and muse Zelda Fitzgerald is nearly as well known as her husband. Their love of parties and socializing made them many friends in the American expatriate community. The people who join the Hemingways and Fitzgeralds at Juan-les-Pins include writer Archibald MacLeish and wealthy American expatriates Gerald and Sara Murphy.

The Fitzgeralds' marriage started out happily but deteriorated in the 1930s when financial ruin, Fitzgerald's drinking, and Zelda's schizophrenia diagnosis caught up with them. Hemingway chronicles the beginning of this downward spiral, observing their antagonism toward one another and hinting at Zelda's mental illness.

Zelda is compared to a predatory, deceptive hawk and Fitzgerald to her willing prey. He takes pride in his career, with book sales "noted as carefully as the log of a ship," while Zelda deliberately sabotages her husband's career by encouraging him to drink. Zelda is enigmatic, with "eyes blank as a cat's," and is presented as truly dangerous to her husband's health and to his career. Even if he is not drinking heavily, Fitzgerald is continually worried about Zelda and the effects of alcohol. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald defends her, blaming the city of Paris itself for his writing difficulties.

Hemingway assesses Zelda's state of mind by her looks. When hung over and argumentative, she does "not look her best," and Hemingway senses cruelty to come. When relaxed and friendly, she is "tanned a lovely gold color," and Hemingway thinks, mistakenly, all will be well.

Hemingway portrays himself as the disciplined, serious writer responsible for pushing Fitzgerald, who has succumbed to temptation, to focus on his craft instead. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald is pining for more. He loves the idea of wealth, decadence, and a carefree life. He dreams of moving to the South of France and seems to think wealth will release him from his troubles. However, after Hemingway has seen the codependency of the Fitzgeralds' relationship and the personality-altering effect alcohol has on his friend, he becomes more understanding and tolerant. He praises Fitzgerald's sober loyalty and hates the effect Fitzgerald's circumstances have on his extraordinary talent. Fitzgerald's optimism near the end of the chapter is premature. As he does at the end of "Winters in Schruns," Hemingway hints at sadness in the future (after Zelda's "secret") but doesn't elaborate.

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