A Moveable Feast

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A Moveable Feast Paris Sketches 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While Hemingway is working as a journalist, it is important that he has a “presentable suit,” “respectable shoes,” and a regular haircut. This becomes a “liability” because it allows him to go to the right bank to pursue expensive activities, so in order to avoid the risk he lets his hair grow long. He never has enough time between journalistic assignments to let his hair grow as long as that of Ezra’s Japanese friends, but he can at least get a “good start,” enough to be considered “damned.” He adds, “I enjoyed being considered damned and my wife and I enjoyed being considered damned together.” Sometimes other journalists run into Hemingway while his hair is long and urge him not to let himself go. Hemingway remarks that the people who “interfered” in his life didn’t understand the simple “pleasures” of being considered damned and being in love.
This passage is somewhat surprising, because—at least in comparison to the rest of his milieu in Paris—Hemingway does not seem particularly enamored with the bohemian lifestyle. He is a self-confessed sexual conservative who enjoys life within his nuclear family, is disturbed by both “ambitious” women and homosexuality, and rejects the hedonistic behavior of figures like Zelda (even as he also partakes in activities like drinking and going to the races). Hemingway’s embrace of bohemianism is less a countercultural act and more an intimate, playful game between him and Hadley.
Themes
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
Once Hemingway quits journalism, he and Hadley are “free people in Paris.” Hemingway declares that he is “never going to get a haircut” and he and Hadley order wine to celebrate. Hadley admits that it will take a long time for Hemingway’s hair to grow as long as the Japanese painters’ hair, and that maybe if he stops thinking about it it’ll grow faster. They both laugh and plan to grow their hair to the exact same length. Hemingway remarks that other people will think they’re “crazy.” They once again discuss how “lucky” they are. The next day Hadley gets a haircut and tells Hemingway that now he’s gained “almost a month” in length. She says she’ll keep doing this to make it seem like Hemingway’s hair is growing faster. Hadley then cuts Hemingway’s hair in the same style as her own. They both grow a little nervous about the plan, but resolve to stick with it regardless what other people think.
Hemingway and Hadley’s delight over their planned matching hairstyles highlights the way in which happiness is formed of small, simple, and often irrational pleasures. There is no coherent logic behind their desire to have the same haircut, and yet they find total delight in it. Their desperation for Hemingway’s hair to grow fast is reminiscent of the impatience of children, who are too excited about a coming event to let time take its course. This emphasizes the notion that Hemingway and Hadley’s happiness is innocent, based in their youthful “luck” and enthusiasm about their life together.
Themes
Hunger vs. Consumption Theme Icon
Success, Gossip, and Fame Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon
Happiness and Sadness Theme Icon
Hemingway and Hadley go to Austria that year, where no one cares what they look like. The hotel keeper tells them that he remembers a time when “all men wore their hair long” and that he is “very pleased that Paris was again returning to this style.” He believes it is a “revolt against the years of war.” The hotel keeper asks Hemingway how long he has been growing his hair, and tells him he must be patient. The hotel keeper sells Hemingway a herbal tonic to help his hair grow quicker, and later Hemingway realizes that other guests smell the same. One of them, Hans, says they are all “damned fools” for buying it and he asks if long hair is really the fashion in Paris. Hemingway tells him it isn’t, and they both confess that they just wear their hair long “for fun.” Hemingway tells Hans that Hadley likes it that way, and Hans says that his girlfriend does, too.
The hotel keeper’s comment that long hair is a “revolt against the years of war” suggests that Hemingway and Hadley’s desire to wear their hair long is arguably more serious and meaningful than it may first appear. Rather than simply being a silly “secret pleasure,” long hair is a way of resisting the horror of meaningless suffering and authoritarianism that robbed so many people of their lives, freedom, and sanity during and after the war. In this sense, foolishness and fun itself thus becomes a form of freeing oneself from the trauma of war that continued to linger over Europe.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Friendship Theme Icon