Tyler Malone interviews Adam Long, the director of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer House in Arkansas, where Hemingway once lived, about the subject:
Hemingway is sort of the prototypical machismo American writer, but that uber-masculinity aspect of his persona often gets played up. He seems to me a much more complicated man than the mythical bull-fight-loving tough guy allows. Do you agree? And if so, in what ways do you see a different side of Hemingway? And how can highlighting those alternate aspects of his personality help to open up his novels in different ways?
I agree that Ernest is more complex than his one-dimensional macho performance. Certainly, Ernest was obsessed with masculinity, as were many men in his time and place. Because of this performance, he seems to have worked to ensure that his public persona was quintessentially macho. This probably becomes more and more true as his celebrity grows.
Beneath this, though, I think there is a much more complex person. Looking at his texts, I think that, at times, you see his narrators regret their own chauvinism. It seems to me that many of his narrators are speaking about past events, like one might in a confessional. I think seeing the difference in age in the first-person narrators and the events they narrate is important in seeing growth (or at least regret) in some of the Hemingway heroes.
(Image of Hemingway with Col. Charles T. Lanham in Germany 1944 via Wikimedia Commons)