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To Have and Have Not

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Novel by Hemingway, published in 1937.

Harry Morgan, a tough “conch,” as natives of Key West, Fla., call themselves, has devoted his life to the single-minded effort to keep himself, his wife, and his children on the upper fringe of the “have-nots.” He hires out his powerboat to wealthy men for fishing trips, but, when the Depression destroys this source of income and a rich tourist welshes on payment for lost fishing tackle, he is obliged to turn to illegal activities. He contracts to smuggle Chinese from Cuba into the U.S., but, taking their money, murders their leader and abandons the others. While smuggling illegal liquor, he is captured in a gun battle by federal officers, loses an arm, and has his boat confiscated. In a last desperate attempt to obtain money, he aids in the escape of four bank robbers, although realizing that unless he kills them, they will kill him. This he does, but they wound him fatally. Picked up by the Coast Guard and accused of being a member of the gang, he stammers, “A man… ain't got no hasn't got any can't really isn't any way out…. One man alone ain't got… no chance.' He shut his eyes. It had taken him a long time to get it out and it had taken him all his life to learn it.”

Subjects: Literature

Reference entries

Ernest Hemingway (1899—1961) American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist