The other characters in this story; James the barman, and the other two drinkers, show us another perspective on the conversation between the man and the girl.
They set the context in an indifferent world, were nobody cares about anything, and everything is meaningless. During the conversation between the man and the girl, the barman “at the far end of the bar” is watching them, and Hemingway, gives us a glimpse into his mind: “He knew these two and thought them a handsome young couple. He had seen many handsome young couples break up and new couples form that were never so handsome long.” This shows us how the man an the girl are nothing new or special, just another couple of the “lost generation;” where there is no meaning in their relationship, they are together just for pleasure, no fidelity, no loyalty. Thus they will not stay so “handsome long” because of the meaningless life that they are leaving, and thus it is inevitable for them to break up.
The presence of the barman also indicates the meaningless of the situation, since he is “not thinking about this, but about a horse. In half an hour he could send across the street to find if the horse had won.” Thus we see how the barman also doesn’t care at all about this couple; so we get the impression of how meaningless it all is, including the couple’s argument.
We see once again this indifference towards life, and this meaningless way of leaving, in the way the barman addresses the two drinkers and vice-versa. He does so with the total indifference to what they are saying, just to be polite, and professional; “you’re looking very well yourself, ” he answered to the drinkers that told him that he was “looking very well.” James, thus this only to keep the formality, there is not any real reason or meaning. So, the presence of the bartender and the drinkers is there, to just reflect this meaningless world, and the meaningless way this couple has been living all along. A world where everybody only cares about their own personal interests, and not about others, just as the man and the girl, care only about their interests. This story, just as in “Hills Like White Elephants, ” uses a “minimalistic” style, which is the typical Hemingway style.This style works to present the “existentialist” theme implied in all stories, a world without God.
Firstly, Hemingway uses the technique of third person narrator, and as usual the reader’s presence as narratorial presence in the story is very limited; this image is used to emphasize the absence of God. Hemingway, just as in most other stories, never enters in the character’s mind. He does this only rarely, when he wants to bring out a certain theme, usually the theme of the “lost generation.” This happens in this story, when he enters the mind of James, the barman, who is observing the couple: “He knew these two and thought them a handsome young couple. He had seen many handsome young couples break up and new couples form that were never so handsome long. He was not thinking about this but about a horse. In half an hour he could send across the street to find if the horse had won. ” Hemingway, thus gives us this glimpse into the men’s mind to stress the theme of the “lost generation,” and the indifference of the world around the couple, a world without meaning, and no God.
Other features of Hemingway’s minimalistic style, is the minimalist Anglo-Saxon vocabulary which strips the English language to the very basic words; stressing the idea of an extentialist world . We can take as example the description of the barman, ” The barman was at the far end of the bar. His face was white and so was his jacket. ” The words he uses are so simple, and monosyllabic, thus giving this idea of a bare naked world; “barman,” “bar,” “face,” and “jacket.” The only adjective here used is “white,” and this itself is a very simple adjective, still emphasizing this idea of the simplistic style. Finally, in this story Hemingway uses repetition a lot, which stresses the boredom of this empty world.
However, it also foregrounds certain words that Hemingway wants to emphasize for his personal use, for example in these sentences: ” He knew these two and thought them a handsome young couple. He had seen many handsome young couples break up and new couples form that were never so handsome long.” In this case, the adjective “handsome” is repeated three times, this brings out the key theme of this story, that though on the surface these people lead attractive and bright lives, they actually live hollow and meaningless lives. Also he wants to foreground the importance of this word on the surface for the reader, while revealing the actual hollow meaning. So, we can understand that Hemingway’s minimalistic style is always showed In his stories, and the style used in a Sea Change is similar to Hills Like White Elephants.
To conclude, Hemingway, as in “Hills Like White Elephants,” brings out the main theme in this story, which is the condition of the “lost generation,” however, in this story the issue of fidelity and infidelity is brought out, as both man and woman have affairs. The setting of this story, the end of summer, and beginning of autumn also brings out this fact of the end of the relationship, since there is another season ending. So it foregrounds what is coming ahead.