Love is a feeling that every person has felt. There are all kinds of love, from the love people have for a friend, to the love people have for their family to the love people have for their romantic partner. Ernest Hemingway is an author that explores the concept of love throughout several of his stories. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Up In Michigan”, the concept of love is explored through an innocent girl. Liz is in love with Jim, but he does not notice her often. When Jim finally gives Liz attention, it does not go as she plans. She gets raped.
Critics argue that Liz is not truly in love, but it is clear that the feelings she exhibits is love. “Up In Michigan” is a story about an innocent girl who gets taken advantage of because of her love for a man. Liz’s thoughts and physical symptoms depicted in the story show that she is in love with Jim. In the beginning of the story, Hemingway describes everything that Liz likes about Jim. “Liz liked Jim very much. She liked it the way he walked over from the shop and often went to the kitchen door… She liked it about his mustache. She liked it about how white his teeth were when he smiled.
She liked it how much D. J. Smith and Mrs. Smith liked Jim” (Hemingway). Liz likes everything about Jim. She has looked at him so much, that she even notices the hairs on his arm (Hemingway). Her admiration for every aspect of Jim’s body is one piece of evidence that she loves him. It’s easy for some people to argue that physical admiration is a product of infatuation, but scientific evidence says otherwise. One of CNN’s health articles talks about what happens to a person’s body when they are in love.
The article says that people who are in love enjoy looking at their loved one. The desire to literally look at your partner’s face comes from the brain’s release of dopamine… it stimulates the desire/reward response related to intense pleasure” (Tigar). Besides the fact that Liz likes looking at Jim, she also exhibits physical symptoms that occur when people are in love. These physical symptoms include: loss of sleep, stiff muscles and an aching chest. A scholar from the University of Florida argues that Liz’s loss of sleep is due to her sexual fantasies of Jim (Upton 4). Upton claims that Liz is infatuated with Jim and ends up seducing him.
Upton also says that her seduction is unsuccessful because the sexual encounter was too much for her. Upton is incorrect. Hemingway does not say anywhere in his story that Liz was thinking of Jim in a sexual context as she struggled to fall asleep. The details of her struggle to fall asleep, in addition to other physical symptoms Hemingway lists, are included to show that she loves Jim. Liz loses sleep over him because it is a natural reaction to being away from a loved one. CNN’s health article proves that Liz is not just infatuated with Jim.
The article says, “ … when you’re in those initial stages of euphoria, you feel more energized and positive in the early morning and evenings, causing you to not sleep as well, or have restless sleep. Dr. Kat says that all of those hormones bouncing around … affect your ability to focus during the day, too” (Tigar). Critics similar to Lupton do not realize that the seemingly unnecessary details of Liz’s admiration for Jim are actually Hemingway’s method of revealing Liz’s innocent love. Why else would those details be included? It is evident that Liz loves Jim, but there is more that needs to be addressed about the story.
There is a common misunderstanding that Liz seduces Jim. While critics argue that Liz seduces Jim, it is clear that she gets taken advantage of because of her innocence and love for Jim. She does not seduce Jim, but rather loves him and doesn’t know what to do after he rapes her. When Jim returned from hunting, he had some drinks. Shortly afterwards, he brings Liz to a dock and rapes her. Readers must understand that the incident was not a seduction but rape. After the incident, Hemingway writes, “She was frightened… She was very frightened and didn’t know how he was going to go about things… it frightened her” (Hemingway).
People say that she seduced him, but this isn’t true because it is clear that she is afraid. If she were to seduce him, she would not have been afraid. Lisa Tyler agrees that Liz’s encounter with Jim at the dock was rape. Her article says, “It’s rape whether the rapist uses a weapon or his fists, verbal threats, drugs or alcohol, physical isolation, your own diminished physical or mental state, or simply the weight of his body to overcome you” (qtd. In Tyler 4). It’s perspicuous that Liz was too naive to know what Jim was about to do. She only knows of the Jim that she fantasizes about: the Jim that’s in love with her.
She does not know that there is the side of Jim that does not love her, but would rather just be intimate with her. Jim does not say any words of affection. Instead, he does something that Liz undeniably rejects. Because of this, she is overcome by shock. Liz does not act passively because she wants Jim to continue what he is doing, but she acts passively because she is in too much fear to know what to do. Her fantasies of Jim coupled with her inexperience with love did not allow her to be prepared for such a frightening interaction. Even after Jim raped Liz, she still acts in ways that shows that she loves him.
The story closes up when, “Liz took her coat and leaned over and covered him with it. She tucked it around him neatly and carefully” (Hemingway). If Liz seduced Jim or was just obsessed with him, she would’ve left after getting what she wanted. She clearly cares for him even though he just hurt her. The reason that Liz still cared for Jim after the incident was because she did not fully understand what happened. One author agrees that she is too innocent to know. Alice Petry says, “Jim perceives Liz in exclusively sexual terms whereas Liz, due to her innocence, is conscious only of a non-sexual, romanticized attraction to him” (Petry 25).
Petry agrees that Liz was too innocent to comprehend Jim’s feelings for her. However, Petry says that the interaction with Jim causes Liz to mature. The evidence in the story says otherwise. Liz still does not know what to do with her feelings for Jim. In confusion, she kisses him on the cheek and leaves as if the incident that happened was Jim’s way of reciprocating her love. Instead of telling someone of what was done to her, she goes to bed. Liz’s reaction indicate that she did not know what Jim did was wrong. In the end, she is still naive because of her love for Jim.
Through careful analysis of the story and developed research, readers can come to the conclusion that Liz is in love with Jim. However, her love does not expand beyond her own fantasies. Because of her innocence, she does not know how to further her relationship with Jim. Instead, her ideations cause her to make herself vulnerable, tragically leading to rape. Despite what people say about Liz seducing Jim, the evidence in the story show that she is too inexperienced to be able to do such a thing. “Up In Michigan” is a harrowing story of an innocent, sad love. “Hemingway himself felt that ‘Up In Michigan’ was more sad than dirty” (Petry 28).