The Sea Change -- This story represents much that Hemingway is great at, distilled to its most fundamental.
He makes us feel his characters in a heart beat. "The Sea Change" is three and a half pages, yet we know almost everything we need to know about Phil and the Girl instantly, and Hemingway makes us care.
He also expresses setting so perfectly and sparingly that we feel we're in this tiny bar in Paris, yet the description of the bar is implied, mirrored in his descriptions of the couple and James the bartender. Who they are, how they look, how they behave, gives us most of the goods on the bar, and the two additional clients, with their brief interruption of proceedings, give us all the rest we need. The bar is airy and small and private. James is close to his clientele, a trusted barkeep in the traditional mode. There is rich wood throughout and a zinc bar with mirrors behind. Phil stares into those mirrors and sees the change that is in him.
Which is the other thing Hemingway does so well: he expresses the change in people, and the moments that change them, better than any other.
As Phil's Love asks his blessing to conduct an affair with the woman she loves, Phil feels himself responding as society prescribes. He is angry. He threatens violence. He is wounded and tries to wound her with guilt and recrimination. But he loves her too much, and the prescription is overthrown. He is accepting, quickly accepting, and therein lies "The Sea Change". He is not the prescribed male he thought he was. His comfort is rocked, not by his Lover's infidelity (for what can that really mean in a world where love cannot be controlled?), but by his realization that he is not the man he tried to be. He looks in the mirror and his true self is revealed beneath the unchanged image that stares back.
It's a pretty powerful message in three and a half pages. I wish I could do that.