A Moveable Feast


Ernest Hemingway

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A Moveable Feast: Paris Sketches 8 Summary & Analysis

In 1928, Hemingway and Pauline are in America. They attend the Princeton football game and afterwards they take the train to Philadelphia with Scott, Zelda, and Mike, where they aim to pick up Scott’s French chauffeur. Scott stays sober for the football game, but on the train he starts annoying the strangers around him by talking to them. Scott sees a Princeton medical student who is reading and takes his book from his hands, before loudly announcing that he has found a “clap doctor.” Mike urges him to be quiet but Scott doesn’t stop. Eventually Hemingway and Mike manage to pull Scott away. Zelda, meanwhile, is in “one of her periods of perfect ladyhood” and sits with Pauline, ignoring Scott. The chauffeur is a taxi driver from Paris who explains that Scott will not allow him to put oil in the motor, which causes the car to heat up. Hemingway advises the driver to put oil in the car but the driver insists that both Scott and Zelda will get angry, which they do as soon as they hear the driver discussing it. Hemingway describes the journey as “a nightmare ride”; Scott and Zelda lead the driver in the wrong direction, and he is only able to successfully locate their house once both of them have fallen asleep in the car.
Of all the chapters in which Scott appears, this one is probably the least kind to him, and it is perhaps for this reason that Hemingway chose to omit it. In earlier parts of the book, Hemingway presents Scott as something like a lost little brother—foolish and at times irritating, but nonetheless loveable and innocent in a fundamental sense. In this chapter, however, Scott appears to be purely antagonistic and rude. Crucially, he is rudest to those who are beneath him in some way—the women and the medical student on the train, and the Parisian taxi driver. Whereas in previous chapters Scott’s strange preferences were presented as quirky and even charming, in this instance it is clear that Scott’s insistence that the driver not oil the engine is needlessly destructive and cruel.
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