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Analysis Of The Sun Also Rises

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Analysis of The Sun also Rises

The Sun also Rises, written by Ernest Hemingway, is a literary journey that captures the time. The story is set in the 1920s, which has come to be known as "the lost generation". After World War I many American expatriates were morally and spiritually devastated. This novel captures a time in which these soldiers attempt to live a happy life in the bars and cafes of Spain. The wild partying and late nights in the country are only a cover up for the lives that the ex-soldiers lost in the war. The soot of a bloody war blackens the meaning of life, and this "lost generation" only wishes to get some of its color back.

Hemingway's motives

The novel is based on one of Hemingway's personal experiences. Most of the characters, setting, and even the plot all are relatable to a very troubling time for the author. In 1925 Hemingway and his wife Duff Twysden set off on a trip to Pamplona, Spain. Accompanying them on the trip was Hemingway's friend Harold Loeb. The trio had a great time in the bars and cafes and attended many bullfights. Hemingway was a bullfighting "aficionado", a word the Spanish use to describe an avid bullfighting fan. The term aficionado does not really translate into English as there is no way to describe how deeply involved they are with the sport. Aficionados are compared to die hard American baseball fans with a deeper spiritual and emotional connection to the event.

In all of the fun during the visit in Spain a dark and unexpected secret was revealed. Hemingway caught his wife Duff in an affair with Loeb. Her foolishness led to a fight between the men and a divorce.1 Hemingway turned to writing to deal with his loss, and the novel following his troubles was The Sun also Rises. His personal experience flowed into an unforgettable literary work in the form of a readable and memorable story. The themes of personal loss and disillusionment, as well as the test of physical and emotional courage, and dealing with life in the face of a meaningless world are deep rooted and noticeable in the novel.2

Analyzing characters

All of the characters in the novel are given life through the use of dialogue. Hemingway successfully outlines each character with simple conversation and detailed descriptions. Both of these methods make it very easy to catch onto the personality of each character.

Jake Barnes

Hemingway parallels himself with the character of Jake Barnes in the story. Jake is a successful American reporter who lives in Paris, France after WWI. Jake received a crippling injury to his genitalia while fighting the war making him very self-conscious about himself. Hemingway uses this injury to, "symbolize the sterility of the age."3 His deformity is not only used as a form of symbolism but plays a major role in the plot a well. It keeps him from being aggressive with women as he is very concerned about how they would view him upon finding it. This problem is very troublesome for Jake throughout the book because he is unable to consummate his love to Lady Brett Ashley, another character in the story. Jake, like Hemmingway, is a bullfighting fanatic. He struggles during the story in his relationship with Brett Ashley because she is very outgoing and aggressive. Jake plays the quiet and easygoing man; a mirror image of how Hemmingway views himself. He is inexperienced in relationships with women because of his insecurity and for this reason does not have the confidence to go after Ashley or any other woman for that fact. Jake rejects the advances of a woman after flirting with her for a while and then taking her on a horse-cab ride through town. When the woman went for a kiss on the cab ride Jake rejected her and pushed her hand away. When she asked what was the matter and if he was sick Jake simply replied, "Yes. Everybody's sick I'm sick, too."4 This statement really highlights his lack of self-confidence. Jake's role in the novel "...is firmly established as that of observer and sometimes seer."5 He is observant because he is unsure of himself and needs to view other people in order to learn what is right. Jake also plays well with the theme of dealing with life in the face of a meaningless world because of his struggle with his deformity and feelings for Brett Ashley. He feels his life is meaningless due to the fact that he cannot allow himself to express his feelings as most normal men would in a sexual relationship. He deals with his pain of a meaningless life by being numb to it and taking it in stride. He doesn't overreact to anything because he is unsure of himself and although he is not very confident in himself he never seems to get too upset. Many men in his situation would become very depressed, but Jake keeps on as if life is normal. He is strong willed and smart and these qualities get him through life daily. He is faced with the theme of emotional courage as well when he is torn between his feelings for Brett Ashley and his self-consciousness about his deformity.

Robert Cohn

Robert, like Jake, is also a successful writer. He is a Jewish novelist and a graduate of Princeton. Cohn and Jake are friends who play tennis together as a hobby. He is an amateur boxer and former middleweight champion of Princeton. When Hemingway introduces Robert Cohn into the story in the first chapter his boxing career is the author's main focus. He is described as having, "...A certain inner comfort in knowing he could knock down anybody who was snooty to him, although, being very shy and a thoroughly nice boy, he never fought except in the gym."6 At the time of their trip to Pamplona, Robert had just gotten out of a relationship with a very controlling and abusive woman. "Suppressed by a possessive, insecure lover Robert confides his romantic desire for adventure and travel in Jake who, disabused by experience, dismisses these thoughts as worthless."7 Robert is shy like Jake but goes out to party to deal with his otherwise meaningless life instead of being numb to it. The contrast in personalities between Jake and Robert are obvious and make for a major theme in the story. As Jake takes everything as it comes and doesn't react, Robert's flaw is his tendency to overreact. In the novel Jake and Robert, as well as a young bullfighter named Pedro Romero and Brett Ashley's fiancй Mike Campbell all become entangled in a love triangle with Brett Ashley. When Robert realizes this he beats up Pedro and Jake in a flurry of drunken anger only to realize later how bad he felt about doing so. Robert is instinctive and acts on impulse.

Lady Brett

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