Hemingway describes Ezra Pound as a very devoted and generous friend. He notes that Ezra’s studio is filled with paintings by Japanese artists who wear their hair long. Hemingway is fascinated by the men’s hair, although he admits that he unfortunately can’t understand the paintings. Ezra’s wife Dorothy also paints, and Hemingway loves her paintings. Hemingway doesn’t like a painting of Ezra by Wyndham Lewis; Ezra loves it, but Hemingway comments that this is because Ezra’s loyalty as a friend is blinding his judgment. Hemingway decides not to say anything, because it is impolite to criticize people’s friends (just as it is impolite to criticize their families). He also notes that Ezra is “kinder and more Christian about people” than Hemingway himself.
Hemingway’s description of Ezra reveals important facts about Hemingway himself. Whereas Ezra is generous and inclined to see the good in people, Hemingway is more critical of others and seems to think of himself as a less loyal friend. Similarly, Ezra appears to be more open to different kinds of people and experiences. Hemingway, meanwhile, asserts that he doesn’t like the Japanese paintings because he can’t understand them, a statement that suggests an unwillingness to engage with that which is unfamiliar.
One afternoon while Hemingway is teaching Ezra to box at Ezra’s studio, he meets Wyndham Lewis. According to Hemingway, Lewis has the face of a frog and wears “the uniform of a prewar artist,” which Hemingway finds embarrassing. Hemingway wants to stop boxing but Lewis insists that they continue, and Hemingway suspects that Lewis wants to see Ezra get hurt. After they finish, the men have a drink together; Hemingway watches Lewis and thinks that he looks “nasty.” At home that evening, Hemingway tells Hadley that he met “the nastiest man I’ve ever seen today,” but Hadley doesn’t want to hear about it just before dinner. A week later, Stein tells Hemingway that she calls Lewis “the Measuring Worm,” because he measures good paintings and tries to replicate them but never pulls it off. Hemingway notes that this is a kinder description than what comes to mind when he thinks of Lewis, but that later he does try to bring himself to like all of Ezra’s friends, including Lewis.
Hemingway’s attitude toward other people resembles Stein’s much more so than it does Ezra’s. Ezra is open-minded and generous, whereas both Hemingway and Stein easily find reasons to dislike and disapprove of people. Some of these reasons seem rather superficial; for example, Hemingway is embarrassed by the “uniform of a prewar artist” that Lewis wears because, at the time, the fashion for artists and writers was not to dress in any particular way. Gertrude Stein’s comments suggest that her judgment of people’s personality and style is often mixed up with her judgment of their abilities as an artist.