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To Have and Have Not

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To Have and Have Not is a novel by Ernest Hemingway (publ. 1937) about Harry Morgan, a fishing boat captain out of Key West, Florida. The novel depicts Harry as an ordinary working man of the Depression Era, forced by dire economic forces into the black-market activity of running contraband between Cuba and Florida. A wealthy fishing charter customer (one of the "Have's") bilks Harry by slipping away without paying after a three-week fishing trip, leaving Harry destitute. Stuck in Havana and motivated by the need to support his family, Harry then himself turns to crime. He makes a fateful decision to swindle would-be Chinese immigrants seeking passage into Florida from Cuba. Instead of transporting them as agreed, he murders the Chinese middle-man and puts the men ashore in Cuba. Harry begins to ferry different types of illegal cargo between the two countries, including alcohol and Cuban revolutionaries. These events alternate with chapters that describe the dissolute lives of wealthy yacht owners. The Great Depression features prominently in the novel, forcing depravity and hunger on the poor residents of Key West (the "Have Not's") who are referred to locally as "Conchs". The racism of the era runs through the novel in the language used by Harry and the other white Americans towards other races. To Have and Have Not was Hemingway's second novel set in the United States, after The Torrents of Spring. Written sporadically between 1935 and 1937, and revised as he traveled back and forth from Spain during the Spanish Civil War, To Have and Have Not portrays Key West and Cuba in the 1930s, and provides a social commentary on that time and place. Hemingway biographer Jeffrey Meyers describes the novel as heavily influenced by the Marxist ideology Hemingway was exposed to by his support of the Republican faction in the Spanish Civil War while he was writing it. The work got a mixed critical reception.The novel had its origins in two short stories published earlier in periodicals by Hemingway ("One Trip Across" and "The Tradesman's Return") which make up the opening chapters, and a novella, written later, which makes up about two-thirds of the book. The narrative is told from multiple viewpoints, at different times, by different characters, and the characters' names are frequently supplied under the chapter headings to indicate who is narrating that chapter.
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original title: To Have and Have Not
language: English
date of publication: 1937
genre: crime novel
narrative location: Florida
followed by: The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories

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