The Sun Also Rises
Masculine Power, Insecurities, and Gender Performance in The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway, the poster child of modernism’s lost generation, frequently tackles masculinity and manhood in the subjects of his novels, using characters that reflect parts of himself and the other men of this wasted generation to explore the psychosocial impacts of war and other struggles on men. The Sun Also Rises is no exception to the rule, with some scholars arguing that the “question of gender constitutes the basis of the story,” putting the importance of the masculine archetype into focus (Elliot 77). There are innumerable references to masculinity which occupy a position in stark contrast to the insecurities that most of the male characters have. Beyond the insights that Hemingway gives the reader into the thoughts and fears of these men, the reader can also glimpse into the author’s focus on masculinity in his descriptive style, and his choice of subjects. Hemingway appears fascinated, and perhaps disturbed by the masculinity and masculine insecurities that have so permeated his novel. What’s more, he frames masculinity through culture, which helps to establish how society is implicated in masculinity through gender performance.
Early on in the novel, Hemingway uses Jake as a vehicle to introduce the unrealistic and unattainable standards that society has established for masculinity. “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters” (18). As Robert Cohn attempts to convince Jake to embark on a South American adventure and airs concerns that he feels that his life is passing him by, Jake makes this succinct remark that is rich in its implications regarding masculinity. The topic of bullfighting alone is one steeped in macho masculine metaphor. An event in which a man, dressed and idolized in extravagant uniform, exerts his force over a gargantuan bull in a battle to the death represents the social expectations for men to be dominant, controlling, violent individuals who are at the top of the food chain, gastronomically, socially, and sexually. This comment demonstrates Jake’s negativity towards his own life, lacking in his ability to dominate sexually, and also suggests that if a man is not literally or otherwise grabbing a bull by its horns, he won’t live a fulfilled life. Robert’s response shows an interesting view to the contrary. “I’m not interested in bull-fighters. That’s an abnormal life” (10). Here, Robert is calling out this reflection of masculine expectations as warped, suggesting that the idolization of the bull-fighter and what he culturally and socially represents is not healthy.
The introduction of Robert as a character gives the reader a look at how gender derived inferiority is at play in the novel. First, the discussion of boxing and the way in which Cohn used it to counter the insecurities that he felt is the first coupling of masculinity with violence in the novel. He was made to feel inferior as a Jewish student at Princeton and resorts to violence as a defense. Next, he is shown to be inferior to Frances, his fiancee. “I watched him walk back to the café holding his paper. I rather liked him and evidently she led him quite a life” (7). This comment, from Jake’s point of view, suggests that Robert is incapable of leading Frances in life, that she is in control of the relationship. Robert appears to be aware of this inferiority as his realization that “he had not been everything to his first wife” is described in Chapter 2 (8). The inability to lead in romantic relationships is an issue that is repeatedly addressed throughout the novel, for many male characters. Jake cannot get Brett to commit to him because of his impotence and Mike cannot keep Brett from exploring other sexual relationships. While this takes an implied anti-feminist stance towards the submissive role of women in relationships, it does help highlight how each of these men feel inadequate in their masculinity.
Jake, our story’s narrator, is a dysfunctional product of socially-defined gender expectations. His self awareness and homophobia are highlighted early on in the novel. “Somehow they always made me angry. I know they are supposed to be amusing, and you should be tolerant, but I wanted to swing on one, any one, anything to shatter that superior, simpering composure” (20). In this statement, the reader is exposed to Jake’s homophobia and tendency to resort to violence while revealing society’s attitude towards homosexuality. This idea that homosexuals should be seen as funny and put up with is disgusting and intolerant, but Jake cannot even bring himself to think that kindly of them. The fact that he perceives them to be composing themselves in an affected, superior fashion seems to indicate a self awareness and inferiority that Jake may feel, due to his impotence.
Scholar Ira Elliott illuminates this instance, “Jake’s attitude toward the homosexuals—the way he degrades them and casts them as his rivals,” reveals, “the extent to which sexual categories and gender roles are cultural constructions” (78). He continues to explain that gender – not to be confused with biological sex – expressions of any kind are effectively performance art installments, with an individual mirroring the constructed views of what is masculine and what is feminine in their behavior. There is neither a cranial implant nor a gland sending messages that define the male or female, society sets those parameters. Elliott argues that we conform to expressions of socialized gender and perform and behave around those gender structures. He supports this contention by examining the ways in which Jake gathers his information in the encounter with the homosexuals. Jake deduces their sexual orientation based on the gestures and styles of the men. These behaviors and traits, such as clothing or hairstyle, are set against societal definitions of gender and sexuality. Mr. Barnes assumes their sexual preference based strictly on their behavior and appearance, which does seem to indicate that gender is a highly socialized cultural construct (Elliott 78). Operating within these understandings, Jake’s disgust likely stems from the idea that within this binary social structure of gender, there is no acceptable feminized male. Therefore, he perceives these men to be performing as female, which would cause some cognitive dissonance on Jake’s part and results in his negative feelings towards them.
James A. Puckett echoes the idea of gender performance being a social and cultural one and specifically references The Sun Also Rises. “Masculinity for Hemingway’s characters is under continuous negotiation and necessarily relies upon the judgment of others, holding no significance outside of a social context” (126). He supports this claim by analyzing the character Francis Macaomber, who struggles with cowardliness and fear and the way he is judged by his public audience – namely his wife – through societal lenses of appropriate and acceptable masculinity.
When Jake recounts his recovery in the Italian hospital in the war, he is reminded of the colonel who visited him. “I was all bandaged up. But they had told him about it. Then he made that wonderful speech: ‘You, a foreigner, an Englishman’ (any foreigner was an Englishman) ‘have given more than your life’” (31). In claiming that Jake’s erectile dysfunction is worse than death, the colonel speaks on behalf of a gendered community in which the ability to perform sexually has more social value than life or service. This is further demonstrative of the twisted priorities of the gendered social expectations for men. It’s important to note that the characters responsible for perpetuating these expectations are not just the men, but the women as well. Brett reinforces these warped values by refusing a commitment to Jake on account of his impotence.
Jake’s very impotence is a crucial facet in interpreting gender in The Sun Also Rises. It seems that if Hemingway truly adopted the hyper-masculinized expectations of society, that he would not have made his protagonist, Jake, impotent. That quality would not be one that he would want his readers to positively associate with the novel or himself, by extension. It begs readers to question that deliberate choice and its significance to the plot. New Jersey City University English professor David Blackmore offers this suggestion, “I would posit that Jake’s emasculation functions as a metaphor for the whole complex of his anxieties about masculinity and sexuality” (53). This argument seems perfectly reasonable and likely, given the frequency with which phallic imagery is met with anxiety from Jake. Blackmore focuses more closely on the nature of Jake’s impotence, pointing out that Hemingway cited Jake’s condition in a 1951 letter, ““Jake has lost his penis but not his testicles or spermatic cord – and therefore not his sexual desire” (66). Had Hemingway opted for the reversal of that, it would significantly change the interpretation of Jake and his situation. Blackmore explains, “if desire rather than behavior defines sexual identity, Jake need not perform heterosexually in order to be a heterosexual” (54). This idea of desire trumping performance in some way conflicts with the idea that Hemingway is playing with gender as performance. However, desire’s importance in modernist literature makes Blackmore’s case an interesting and important perspective that it would be unwise to dismiss.
Perhaps what first appears to be conflict between the ideas of sexual desire and gender identity that is observed in Jake’s character is actually another way in which Hemingway is fighting the confines of gender performance brought on by culture’s binary gender definitions. By choosing to juxtapose Jake’s disability with his heterosexual desire, the author discredits and dissolves the power of gender performance and the norms surrounding it.
Modernist scholar Greg Forter has his own view on male social power and male sexuality. Hemingway’s decision to divorce Jake and his physical manhood show how difficult it was for men in modernism to identify as men. Forter continues, “the wound cuts them off from the source of their own undoubted virility – a source that, in our cultural imaginary, is the root of male social power as well” (26). Once again, there is a suggestion that culture has dictated meaningless criteria for what constitutes masculinity and masculine power. However, Forter poses a fairly novel claim, stating that there is a duality to the impact of Jake’s affliction. Not only does the veteran lose the phallic, dominating power of the masculine male, but he also loses the “genteel, sentimental, and implicitly feminine masculinity,” which leaves him in a psycho-sexual limbo (26). When gender is forced into a male-female system in which there is a binary within each category – male masculinity and female masculinity – there is an empty space lying on a spectrum not represented by the binary system. Jake lies, if readers are to accept Forter’s argument, in that zone, which Hemingway seems to be aware of. Even Jake is arguably aware enough of his habitation in this no-man’s land, and his feeling out of place reveals itself in the implicit anxieties regarding masculinity that he displays throughout the novel.
In Paris, Jake walks past the statue of Marshal Ney, who appears to be a painful reminder of Jake’s impotence and associated lack of power. “He looked very fine, Marshal Ney in his top-boots, gesturing with his sword among the green new horse-chestnut leaves” (29) The pointing and directing actions and the sword itself speak to the phallic nature of the statue. The new green growth of the leaves suggests propagation, a reproductive act for which Jake is ill-equipped. It is important to note that this is an important figure of sexual masculinity, combined with a weapon. Hemingway more than once associates male sex imagery with control and violence or weaponry.
At the novel’s close, the reader sees the final interaction between Brett and Jake in the taxi in what is, again, filled with phallic imagery. “Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me” (247). The policeman is “mounted,” likely an intentional choice of words which has sexual connotations. Mounting an animal suggests a sexual dominance and power, which Jake lacks. The policeman and his baton, respectively representative of power and violence and male genitalia, is in further contrast to Jake’s impotence. They are pressed together, but only as the result of the control and power exerted by this policeman, not in reaction to Jake’s actions. The officer’s role, one of – at the time – masculine power and physical control, could be interpreted as another example of how gender performance manifests itself within a culture. Just as culture has assigned characteristics to gender which we mirror within society, those gender assignments and associated performances have historically extended themselves to the workplace, with different gendered performances being expected of certain professions, such as police work or military service, the latter being a role consistently presented in Hemingway’s works.
Hemingway’s own macho-presenting performance and his written fixation on violence and power could suggest that he may have looked unfavorably on men who didn’t fit the traditional masculine gender mold. However, with an impotent protagonist, it’s clear that he is more sympathetic to masculine insecurities that arise from the expectations that shape and fail the men in his stories. Furthermore, research suggests that Hemingway may have also viewed gender more complicatedly than one might assume, as he utilizes the social and cultural manifestations of gender to display and normalize male insecurities. In utilizing gender constructions and gender performance within this work, Hemingway is in a way putting the culture that designs these systems on trial, in a critique that does not align itself with the way Hemingway’s masculine persona and legacy have been continuously interpreted.
Blackmore, David. ” ‘In New York It’d Mean I Was A…’ “: Masculinity Anxiety And Period Discourses Of Sexuality In “The Sun Also Rises.” Hemingway Review, vol. 18, no. 1, 1998, pp. 49-67. Academic Search Premier, http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csupueblo.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0de95728-eee1-44a8–8b97–986627bbdaf4%40sessionmgr105&vid=19&hid=112. Accessed 22 November 2016.
Elliot, Ira. “Performance Art: Jake Barnes And ‘Masculine’ Signification In The Sun Also Rises.” American Literature: A Journal Of Literary History, Criticism, And Bibliography, vol. 67, no. 1 1995, pp. 77-94. MLA International Bibliography, http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csupueblo.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=22&sid=0de95728-eee1-44a8–8b97–986627bbdaf4%40sessionmgr105&hid=112. Accessed 22 November 2016.
Forter, Greg. “Melancholy Modernism: Gender And The Politics Of Mourning In The Sun Also Rises. (Articles).” The Hemingway Review, vol. 22, no. 1 2002. Literature Resource Center, http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csupueblo.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=21&sid=0de95728-eee1-44a8–8b97–986627bbdaf4%40sessionmgr105&hid=112. Accessed 22 November 2016.
Puckett, James A. “Sex Explains It All.” Studies In American Naturalism, vol. 8, no.2, 2013, pp. 125-149. Academic Search Premier, http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csupueblo.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=17&sid=0de95728-eee1-44a8–8b97–986627bbdaf4%40sessionmgr105&hid=112. Accessed 22 November 2016.
Strife at San Fermin: Bullfighting Symbolism in The Sun Also Rises
“Everything centers around the bull and the bullfighter. The bull can represent anything we choose: the unknown, the “other”, fear, money, sex, work, romantic relationships, etc. It is something that you have to see to understand. The most important thing isn’t in just killing the bull, but in how one kills it. And it’s the same with human experience. The most profound thing is how we live out our conflicts and problems.”
The portrayal of the ever-present conflicts for the characters in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises comes in an unexpected form: bullfighting. The group of American expatriates in Paris is forced to face their demons during a pivotal trip to Spain during the San Fermin festival with a strong bullfighting culture. The facets of bullfighting serve as symbols of the struggles the characters faced in post-World War I society. Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises uses bullfighting as a symbol of sex, masculinity, and violence to illustrate the way sexuality and gender contribute to the tumultuous nature of the characters’ relationships.
Bullfighting, an historic symbol of sexuality, masculinity, and violence, is examined in detail during chapters XIII-XVIII when Hemingway and his group of friends take a trip to Pamplona for the festival of San Fermin, during which bullfighting is a tradition. Much like the characters in Hemingway’s novel, bullfighting has lead a troubled history. Viewed by some as a sport and others as a sadistic performance, it has been fought by governments and banned in many cities. In an article written for the Telegraph, the author states “I came to know the tension, fear, and the injuries suffered by these artists…One can see there is much in common with the troubled life of toreros” (Fiske-Harrison). This troubled life he describes for the bullfighters is not far off from the experiences of Jake and his group of friends in the novel. Defined by their common struggles, the bullfighters described by Fiske-Harrison and the group of expatriates in Hemingway’s novel share a common need to congregate based on like troubles.
During this trip, bullfighting is portrayed as a symbol of sex. Paco Pereda, a professor at the University of the Basque Country, interprets bullfighting as a symbol of sexuality in the following way: “In terms of sexuality, the effeminate costume the bullfighter wears represents the feminine; the penetration by spears and the subsequent wounding of the bull represent the moment when the bull and bullfighter reverse roles of male and female sexuality, with the bull “bleeding” and the bullfighter becoming the aggressor” (Pereda, Baker). Not only is bullfighting in general described in a sexual manner, and depicted as “beautiful”, but the bullfighter that the group encounters, Romero, is also highly sexualized. Brett, the main symbol of sexuality in the novel thus far, is riveted by bullfighting, and by Romero. Her physical attraction to Romero gives a tangible form to the sexuality of bullfighting. Furthermore, the San Fermin festival can also be seen as a time of great debauchery and indulgence. The frequent drinking and promiscuity that takes place show the inclination towards certain stimuli oftentimes considered unhealthy and indulgent. The emphasis on sex creates tension and discomfort among the male characters, who struggle with their masculinity.
Bullfighting is similarly depicted as an inherently masculine sport. It originates from an ancient rite of passage for boys, symbolizing their evolution into young men. The strong and powerful bull specifically is a symbol of masculinity, and its converse, the passive steer, is a symbol of de-masculinization. Throughout the book, the male characters struggle with their perception of masculinity and feel the need to compete with others in regards to how masculine they are. This can be seen near the very beginning of the novel, when the narrator, as Jake, immediately points out Cohn’s lack of masculinity. When seeing Cohn, Jake remarks, “I watched him walk back to the café holding his paper. I rather liked him and evidently she led him quite a life” (15). He indicates that Cohn’s is not very masculine due to the way his wife controls him. Jake can be seen as the castrated steers, since he is impotent. In regards to his implicit castration from a war injury, the liaison colonel tells him that he had given more than [his] life.” His insecurities in regards to masculinity are manifested in this chapter. Additionally, Cohn’s masculinity is also attacked by Mike, who compares him to a steer for his ineffectiveness and his habit of following Brett. It is clear through this passage that the characteristic of being masculine is something taken very seriously by the group.
The violence in bullfighting presents a metaphor for the volatile nature of the group. It ties together the themes of masculinity and sex, as the two are used to attack and hurt the others in the group. The complicated relationship between Brett and the men in the group and her penchant for promiscuity causes tension. The men lash out at each other due to their insecurities with Brett. Mike, in response to his own fear of losing Brett to Romero, yells to Cohn, ““Why don’t you see when you’re not wanted?” (140). Mike’s insecurity about his relationship with Brett causes him to attack Cohn in order to project the same feeling onto him. The violence in bullfighting represents yet another large source of conflict amongst the group members?World War I, where terrible violence was rampant. The war provides the deep tensions between those in the group, and these tensions manifest in attacks on the masculinity of certain characters. For example, Robert Cohn, the only non war veteran, is repeatedly attacked by others for his lack of masculinity. Mike accuses him of “follow[ing] Brett around like a steer all the time” (146). Additionally, Jake is castrated in a violent war injury, showing the very literal toll the violent war took on masculinity. The violence depicted in bullfighting provides a symbolic depiction of both the internal and external chaos that the characters faced due to insecurity and resentment.
The imagery of bullfighting in the novel provides a tangible description of the issues faced by the characters. The facets of sexuality, masculinity, and violence in bullfighting depicted in this section of the novel provide an important window into the characters respond to their own personal trauma and insecurities. Among members of the group, insecurities regarding sex and masculinity were rampant, and tensions were high. The use of the bullfighting metaphor in the context of this novel proves the large role that sexual and gender insecurity and resentment played into the chaotic nature of the group.
Grace Under Pressure: What Constitutes a Hero in The Sun Also Rises
In the despairing modernist world in which Ernest Hemingway’s characters exist, Romantic conventions are incompatible with the demoralized state of the world. Therefore, traditional ideals such as the “true hero” must be radically redefined in order to apply to his characters. The criteria for a hero in a modernist society consists of particular characteristics, as explained by Harry E. Hand in his essay, Transducers and Hemingway’s Heroes: “The Hemingway code, lived and acted but never verbalized by the hero, suggests the following concepts: love for a woman, honor…determination …resignation but not personal defeat…individual freedom from the demands of society”. In Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a hero is one who is able to recognize and accept the cynical state of the world without letting that realization affect one’s dignity or strength of spirit. By these measures, it is worth contending that the matador Pedro Romero is the closest the novel comes to depicting a hero.
The concept of possessing “grace under pressure” truly defines the Hemingway hero (Hand 871). A person who can be considered heroic is one who does not fight against the hopelessness and mundanity of the world, but instead allows his circumstances to further his resolve. This is a person who remains undefeated due to their ability to adapt to a modernist world, while maintaining a strength of spirit. This is exemplified by Romero when he chooses to follow through on his scheduled bullfight, despite the fact that he had been brutalized by Robert Cohn the night before. “During Romero’s first bull his hurt face had been very noticeable. Everything he did showed it. All the concentration of the awkwardly delicate working with the bull that could not see well brought it out. The fight with Cohn had not touched his spirit but his face had been smashed and his body hurt. He was wiping all that out now” (SAR 222). Even though Romero had just been through a physical and emotional ordeal, that did not hamper his resolve, and he was still able to step into the ring with pride and dignity. He boasts a vitality and determination that none of the other characters in the novel possess.
While the main characters quit often and without shame when something becomes too difficult to deal with (physically or emotionally), Romero remains persistent and determined. This is proven by Romero’s response to Cohn’s vicious and unprovoked attack. When Cohn fought Jake and Mike earlier in the novel, not only were the two were quickly incapacitated, but they hardly made an effort to get back up after they were knocked down. Romero however, refuses to admit defeat and continues to get back up each time Cohn knocks him down. He does not stop fighting until he is able to finally land a punch on Cohn, when the man offers him a handshake. Romero, however, is not blind to the world he lives in. In fact, he possesses a remarkable ability to stride both worlds (the old world and the new modernist world).
Romero is one of the few characters in the novel who embodies many traditional values like chivalry, courage, and persistence, while also displaying a cunning and sophistry typical of a modernist character. Jake and Bret are undoubtedly partially responsible for this, and have a bad influence on him, the effect of which is seen when Romero reveals that he lies about being unable to speak English and later on when he takes a cheap shot at Cohn. However, though he begins displaying these less-than-noble characteristics after spending time with the two expatriates, he is never completely corrupted by their influence, and his soul remains pure. In addition, Romero is the only man in the novel who exudes a natural masculinity, or machismo. Machismo is considered the epitome of manhood and power; in a modernist society, this quality is that much more important and prized.
Therefore, in this novel, those who are idolized as heroes are people who are able to maintain power—over oneself and over others—in a world that seeks to make them powerless. Romero embodies these qualities. He has power over Brett, because he has a significant hold on her emotions, so much so that she actually admits to Jake that she is “a goner” and “mad about the Romero boy” (SAR 187). However, he provides a stark contrast to her other lovers, Mike and Cohn, in that he is able to maintain control over himself; even though he is in love with Brett and becomes her lover, his life does not revolve around her validation. This is illustrated by Romero’s actions while he is bullfighting. “Never once did he look up [at Brett]. He made it stronger that way, and did it for himself, too, as well as for her. Because he did not look up to ask if it pleased he did it all for himself inside, and it strengthened him, and yet he did it for her, too. But he did not do it for her at any loss to himself. He gained by it all through the afternoon” (SAR 218). Romero is able to exert his influence over Brett while still remaining true to himself. Unlike the other men Brett becomes romantically involved with, he doesn’t lose himself in her. His sense of self, his confidence, does not diminish. Romero’s confidence and his individuality are also heroic aspects that cause him to stand out from the others. Though he never fails to fulfill people’s expectations, and has a good understanding of his role in society, he does not conform to peer pressure nor cede to the demands of society. It is made very apparent in the novel that Romero is a symbol—for his people, and for his culture—and he embraces this duty wholeheartedly. However, he is not afraid to brush off social stigmas. Even though many Spaniards do not like the idea of him being romantically involved with an Englishwoman, especially a woman like Brett, he does not hesitate to give her public displays of affection. This is another of Hand’s criteria that Romero embodies. In the context of The Sun Also Rises, a hero is defined by their ability to accept and resign himself to the modernist world that he lives in, without letting the environment around him hamper his spirit. This fact speaks to the level of desperation that pervaded post-WWI culture. One is considered hero, who is able to truly function in this type of society, while simultaneously maintaining old world values, a rare quality in the bleak and hopeless world of Hemingway’s novels.
Hand, Harry E. “Transducers and Hemingway’s Heroes.” The English Journal 55.7 (1966): 870-72. Web.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner, 1996. Print.
World War 1 – America – PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- 1 1.1 Introduction:
- 2 According to Martin (1987):
- 3 Chapter 2
- 4 Life and Works of Ernest Hemingway
- 5 2.1 Birth and Parentage:
- 6 2.1.1 His Schooling:
- 7 2.1.2 Injuries of War:
- 8 2.1.3 Falls in Love with a Nurse:
- 9 2.1.4 Disappointment in Love:
- 10 2.1.5 Failure and Fame:
- 11 2.1.6 Reporting in Spain:
- 12 2.1.7 World War II:
- 13 2.1.8 The Nobel Prize:
- 14 2.1.9 A Life of Adventure:
- 15 2.1.10 Ill Health and Suicide:
- 16 2.2 His Works:
- 17 2.2.1 The Torrents of Spring (1926):
- 18 2.2.2 Hemingway’s First Great Novel:
- 19 2.2.3 Papa’s Second Great Novel:
- 20 2.2.4 Some Short Stories by Hemingway:
- 21 2.2.3 Hemingway on Social Issues:
- 22 2.2.4 The Longest Novel:
- 23 2.2.5 Award Wining Novel:
- 24 Chapter 3
- 25 The Lost Generation
- 26 Chapter 4
- 27 Post Traumatic Stress
When World War1 broke out in 1914, it ended almost 100 years of relative peace in Europe. America at that time adopted a policy of neutrality and isolation regarding war. This approach was fully supported by the people of America at that time but later, in 1917 the German submarines entered the US marine territories against which the US government finally had to break the ice.
So, as a reaction to German invasion America finally launched a counter attack and consequently the whole nation plunged into the great World War1. Unaware of the consequences America unwillingly had to participate in the greatest holocaust of the world known as the World War1.
America would never have become a part of World War1 and have stuck to its neutral policy but the German submarines defied the US marine laws and entered the US territories on January 9th, 1917. Woodrow Wilson the US president at that time finally asked congress to declare war on Germany and it was April 2nd, 1917. As a result of this legitimate order America joined the war along with the other Allies.
On the other hand the continent of Europe was under the attack of war where World War1 rose like a wall of blood red mountains. Despite having massive military and great weapons war killed ten million Europeans, most of them were young soldiers, nurses and subjects and all became the victims of ultimate death brought by heavy war weapons, flying jets and bullets swimming in the air. It was death’s command everywhere and when death comes to its empire it kills all what it finds.
Similar was the situation in America where men, women and children all were on the mercy of a single bullet. Four million American soldiers were killed in war and almost equal number of civilians got killed and injured men, women and children left homeless due to the great wreckage all around with the spread of epidemic disease that resulted in the cause of further deaths of many civilians.
It was a chaotic situation after the war ended in 1919. People were completely disillusioned and stunned by the aftermaths of the World War1. They were hopeless and unaware of their futures. The basic matrix of life was completely dissolved by the cruel war and human civilization became a victim of demolition. People lost their faith in basic norms and values of life as war took away with it their hopes, happiness and loved ones too. They seemed completely lost with having no basic aim behind being alive. Young men and women of America started living like herds of sheep and were spending life just for the sake of killing time.
Eventually the war ended but it left behind its impact on the mind of masses and its terror got stored into the minds of the post-war generations. People became mentally sick and even after the war was over they felt its aftershocks later on in their lives. World War1 was the greatest trauma of the lives of a great number of Americans who survived the brutal attack of the war. The post-war American race became a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental disorders which were the result of the shocks given by the World War1. PTSD is a severe kind of state of mind after a great shock or accident that leads a human being to become a patient of insomnia and several other mental retardations. Almost each community and every class in America’s post-war society became a victim of PTSD which became a cause of disbelief and disgracing of the traditional life style on part of American generation.
Watching all the above mentioned events and incidents in the midst of the battle fields and among the victims of the World War1 was present Ernest Hemingway, an American Red Cross ambulance driver who witnessed and used all these war events and post-war condition of the society as a backdrop of his literary works. Hemingway represented the American society and a post-war perturbed American generation which is known as the Lost Generation of America. Hemingway being a spokesman of the lost generation, masterly managed to give a unique account of events and incidents that took place in the war and changed the lives of millions of Americans. Hemingway’s main concern was the American society and its members who were suffering from a post-war disturbed psychological state of mind. Aiken (1926) writes in his essay as edited by Meyers (1982) as follows:
The half dozen characters, all of whom belong to the curious and sad little world of disillusioned and aimless expatriates who make what home they can in the cafes of Paris, are seen perfectly and unsentimentally by Mr. Hemingway and are put before us with a maximum of economy 1. (90)
As we know wars have always been a cause of destruction, devastation and demolition on a great scale since the descent of mankind on earth. There is no doubt that wars shatter the matrix of human civilization and bring forth despair, death and disease for mankind. Surpassing all the previous wars, the great World-Wars dismantled the hopes, dreams and races on a large scale and nations falling victims of disillusionment, aimlessness and mental stress and physical disorders. One of the greatest diseases that damage the brain after a war is ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’, a severe state of human mind after a shock or a trauma. Durand and Barlow (2000) comment on PTSD as follows:
In recent years we have heard a great deal about the severe and long-lasting emotional disorders that can occur after a variety of traumatic events. Perhaps the most impressive traumatic event is war, but emotional disorders also occur after physical assault (particularly rape), car accidents, natural catastrophes, or the sudden death of a loved one. The emotional disorder that follows a trauma is known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 2. (131)
Then I. Sarason and Sarason (2006) in their book on Abnormal Psychology comment:
PTSD involves an extreme experience, such as war, a natural catastrophe (for instance an earthquake), a physical assault, or a serious car crash. The traumas range from those that are directly experienced (e.g., being threatened with death) to those that are witnessed (e.g., family member being threatened with death). The onset of the clinical condition in posttraumatic disorders varies from soon after the trauma to long after it has occurred. Most studies have found higher rates among women than men. The prevalence of PTSD in the general population is about 0.5% in men and 1.2% in women (Andreasen and Black, 2001). Because life today is considered to be high in trauma for the population in general, it is estimated that Americans currently have a 5 to 10% chance of developing PTSD at sometime during their lifetimes. The combination of vulnerability factors and exposures earlier in life to traumatic experiences increases the likelihood of PTSD. For instance, having been abused as a child or have had other previous traumatic experiences increases the risk for PTSD, especially for individuals who generally have emotional difficulties, such as anxiety and depression 3. (256)
Now keeping in mind the American society which is the sole area of our research, we found the reason behind PTSD in American society and the characters introduced to us by Ernest Hemingway in his works. And that reason was the First World War and its aftermath. The lives of millions of people were badly influenced by World War I in America and in Europe as well. The great holocaust changed the whole concept of life by destroying the basic norms and traditional beliefs in all parts of the world.
Priestley (1962) comments on World War I as follows:
In the very middle of this age the First World War rises like a wall of blood-red mountains. Its frenzied butchery, indefensible even on a military basis, killed at least ten million Europeans, mostly young and free from obvious physical defects. After being dressed in uniform, fed and drilled, cheered and cried over before they were packed into their cattle-trunks, these ten million were then filled with hot lead, ripped apart by shell splinters, blown to bits, bayoneted in the belly, choked with poison gas, suffocated in mud, trampled to death or drowned, buried in collapsing dugouts, dropped out of burning aero planes, or allowed to die of diseases, after rotting to long in trenches that they shared with syphilitic rats and typhus-infested lice. Death, having come into his empire, demands the best, and got it 4. (321)
Almost all the works of Ernest Hemingway are a result of his first-hand experience of war and his staunch observation of life around him. Most of his works prove to be autobiographical in nature and Cooperman (1964) comments on autobiographical nature of Hemingway’s works as follows:
Three elements in Hemingway’s life shaped many of his attitudes, and indeed shaped much of his works: the fact that in World War I, he suffered a painful and terrible mortar wound, which made him conscious of the dread possibilities of the loss of manhood; the fact that his father committed suicide; and the fact of his growing old… and the fears created by old age itself. Similar to Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms, Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises, and Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway was afflicted with the fear of letting go and the fear of thinking. The nightmare of chaos, of passivity, loss of will, loss of initiative, loss of masculine role was a terrible nightmare, and one to be avoided at all costs 5. (85-92)
It has already been observed that all the Hemingway fiction comes from his war experiences and the aftermath of the war. Many critics have commented on this experience-based technique of Ernest Hemingway. According to Putnam (2006), Tobias Wolff at the Hemingway centennial celebration said, “Hemingway’s great war work deals with aftermath. It deals with what happens to the soul in war and how people deal with that afterward.”
Putnam (2006) further comments:
No American writer is more associated with writing about war in the early 20th century than Ernest Hemingway. He experienced it firsthand, wrote dispatches from innumerable frontlines, and used war as a backdrop for many of his most memorable works 6.
Ernest Hemingway is best known as the representative of the “Lost Generation” of America. He as an artist and writer of literature selected characters from the post-war American society as he was himself a member of that society and he observed it staunchly. Most of his works are based on his personal experience of the society and that is why he is often himself present in his novels as a leading character. Asselineau (1980) comments on Hemingway’s fiction as follows:
It was indeed a “lost generation” in more senses than one. Yet, Hemingway among others survived the Great War for over forty years and, after appearing as the cynical and disillusioned Byron of twentieth century, ultimately turned into a new “teacher of athletes” and a “professeur d’ energie” a la Barres. A rather surprising change and a very spectacular recovery, which we can follow step by step in his works, since his novels make up an interminable Bildungsroman whose hero is always himself 7.
While going through the works of Ernest Hemingway one realizes that Hemingway has very skillfully managed to present before us a group of expatriates who had left their homeland America after getting disillusioned by the war and were living as useless people in different parts of Europe under a special code of life. Asselineau (1980) comments as follows:
All the veterans of foreign wars who appeared in Hemingway’s fiction are united by a common belief in an unwritten code. They are morally and physically very tough. They can take it. They keep a stiff upper lip. They grin and bear it. They refuse to discuss their own emotion and despise loquacious swaggerers like Robert Cohn. They hate gushing. They believe in self control and self imposed discipline. They have reached true wisdom in the etymological meaning of the word “wisdom”. They are those who know- who know that they are mortal and that sooner or later life ends in death. They know that man- whatever he does- will sooner or later be crushed by the hostile forces which surround him and is bound to be defeated- defeated, but not vanquished, for, like Pascal, they believe in the dignity of man, “a mere reed, and the weakest that can be found on earth, but even when the universe crushes him, man is still nobler than what kills him, for he knows that he is dying, while the advantage that the universe has over him, the universe is unaware of it.” 8 (1844)
High (1986) has also commented on the lost generation as follows:
Man young people the post-World War 1 period had “lost” their American ideals. At the same time America “lost” many fine young writers- like e.e. cummings and Hemingway- because they had moved to Paris. Fitz Gerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), describes this new generation. They had “grown up to find all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.” Two concerns now filled their lives: “the fear of poverty and the worship of success.” 9 (143)
Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises proves to be the best of his works and it was also his first proper novel on lost generation of America. The novel stands as a monument over which the whole drama of the lost generation of America has been carved. It was Gertrude Stein the American authoress and Hemingway’s mentor who for the very first time told E. Hemingway: “You are all a lost generation.” Hemingway was struck by the comment and used it as an epigraph and also the theme of his first novel, Fiesta (called The Sun Also Rises in US. Ousby (1979) in his essay The Lost Generation comments as follows:
Today the ‘lost Generation’ has come to seem an over-worked catchphrase. Used indiscriminately in its own era, the title has been claimed by successive generations of writers and applied retrospectively to earlier schools, such as the American naturalists. Yet the term remains useful in discussing the novelists of 1920’s, if only because epitomizes the way they liked to see themselves. 10 (205)
Ousby (1979) further explains the characteristics of the writers of lost generation in following words:
Their unique and common experience was a disillusion bred by the First World War. They returned from that conflict to a society whose values seemed hollow and artificial by comparison with the harsh realities of the battle-field. Their alienation from America often took the form of exile and expatriation: Hemingway and Dos Passos spent most of their early adult lives in Europe, while Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe were frequent visitors. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that Paris became the extra-parliamentary centre of American culture in 1920s. It was the shrine to which most ambitious young writers of the era made their pilgrimage. 11 (206)
Ousby (1979) in the same essay tells us the factors which affected the writings of the writers of lost generation in the following words:
Disillusioned with society in general and America in particular, the novelists of the Lost Generation cultivated a romantic self-absorption- a deliberate retreat into private emotion. They became precocious experts in tragedy, suffering and anguish. The early novels of Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald are peopled by sad, bitter young men who have lost all illusions at an early age; Amory Blaine of This Side of Paradise and Jake Barnes of Fiesta are the prime examples. They are haunted by war memories and by images of violence, cynical about idealism in any form, and given to only the most cryptic and laconic expressions of feeling. 12 (206)
Ousby (1979) also comments on the characters introduced to us by the writers of lost generation as follows:
The characters of Lost Generation novels live in restless pursuit of excitement and pleasure. Their Europe is not the gallery of cultural objects found in Hawthorne’s and James’s fiction: it is a Europe of elegant restaurants, picturesque bars and intriguing local customs. They delight in kicking over the conventional traces (and in the resultant cries of middle- class horror), indulging in heavy drinking and casual sex. 13 (207)
It was only Ernest Hemingway, who among the most famous writers of lost generation of America has been able to won the title of the avant-garde writer of the lost generation. His novel The Sun Also Rises was recommended all over the world as a true story featuring real people from the lost generation. This novel also made Hemingway a world-known celebrity. Nagel (1996) in his essay Brett and the Other Women in The Sun Also Rises comments:
This book made him, almost instantly, an international celebrity identified with an entire generation, torn by war and grieving throughout the Roaring Twenties for their lost romantic idealism. Although he was somewhat ill-suited for the role, because he was a hard-working young writer with a wife and a son to support, he came to be regarded as the spokesman for American expatriates, those disillusioned and disaffected artists, writers, and intellectuals who spent the decade on the Left Bank in Paris. 14 (87)
In his novel The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway uses Jake as a puppet, a narrator and also his famous code hero. Jake narrates the whole story which Hemingway’s eye saw sincerely. Nagel (1996) again in his essay Brett and the Other Women in The Sun Also Rises comments on the character of Jake Barnes as follows:
He is certainly one of the most isolated and vulnerable figures in American literature, and he narrates out of his disillusionment and pain, his grief evident throughout. As he says about himself, all he wants is to figure out how he can live in the world. It would seem that telling what happened is part of the process of learning how to live in the special circumstances of his world. 15 (90)
Nagel (1996) in his essay Brett and the Other Women in The Sun Also Rises comments on Jake being a representative of lost generation in following words:
Hemingway humanized this dichotomy in the character of Jake Barnes by creating a man who bears the wounds of the war in a profoundly personal way yet combines his disillusionment with traditional American values of hard work and just compensation. It is surely an oversimplification to see Jake as an uncompromised representative of lost generation radicalism, for he exhibits much of the midwestern values he sometimes satirizes… Above all, it is his judgment that provides the normative sensibility for assessing the people and events of the novel. But to grasp the meaning of what he relates, it is essential to understand the psychological context in which he tells it. 16 (91)
Lady Ashley Brett is another important character from the lost generation. She is pure nymphomaniac sort of a woman and is a true representative of the women of the early 20th century. According to Nagel (1996), “Brett is by no means the first representation of a sexually liberated, free-thinking woman in American literature but rather an embodiment of what became known as the “New Woman” in nineteenth-century fiction.”
Nagel (1996) further says:
Brett is not only a women but an extraordinary woman for the age, a point not clear unless she is considered in historical context. Form this perspective, the women in The Sun Also Rises might be regarded as more interesting then the men. The role of women in society had been changing with each decade for a century, always with a good deal of social conflict and ideological struggle. 17 (92)
Keeping in mind the agony of Jake due to his relation with Brett, we may easily nominate him as the most suffering person in the novel. His love with Brett makes him feel the pain of his wound which he got during the war, because he could not physically fulfill what he felt. According to Nagel (1996):
From the beginning, the world is out of sexual order, the social evening is a parody of erotic potential, and the deeper irony is that this pathology is at the very heart of Jake and Brett’s relationship. Their conversation in the taxi reveals the central problem of the novel: that they one another, that they feel that there is nothing they can do about it, that it is painful and destructive for them to be together. Whatever else happens is driven by this fact, and it is impossible for them to change it. The central dilemma for Jake is whether he can change the situation by finding some satisfaction in life. The problem for Brett is that she needs companionship of a man, and no one but Jake can offer her much beyond fleeting sexual pleasure. 18 (94)
Jake truly deserves pity because he is the one who lost the most he had during war and even afterwards. His love with Brett gives him nothing except pain and he is also unable to sleep at night due to the agony brought by his love for Brett. Nagel (1996) comments:
The “loss” in the “lost generation” is sustained primarily by him, and it makes for powerful fiction. The novel works, ultimately, because Jake, in anomalous circumstances, nevertheless presents a normative sensibility in the story he tells. He emerges as a man of intelligence, humor and good sense who lost more than he deserved in World War 1 but learned how to make a life for himself. 19 (105)
According to Martin (1987):
Jake Barnes and his friends- all of them- are a group because they share the same beliefs and experiences. Except for Robert Cohn, whose differences are less heinous than Jake sometimes thinks them to be, the displaced Americans and Britons are moving through a festival period in their lives, punctuating their aimless existence abroad with an organized visit to Spain for the bullfights. 20 (07)
The characters introduced to us by Hemingway live under a peculiar but yet an extraordinary code of life. They behave like a community of people sharing similar set of thoughts and beliefs. Martin (1987) in her New Essays on The Sun Also Rises says:
A key theme is the notion of community: These are people who understand each other, the rules they live by, and the reasons for their choices. Only someone outside that community will have difficulty with the social code. Count Mippipopolous may be a stranger to the group, but he understands the code and fits into the society. Robert Cohn, although he spends much time with the members of the group and thinks himself a special friend of both Jake and Brett, never manages to assimilate the rules. Jake, however, is clearly in charge- of the plans, the guest list, the activities, and the emotional nuance. He is the apparent hero of the novel, and his approval or disapproval sets the pattern for the other character’s reaction to things. 20 (08)
All the characters in the novel The Sun Also Rises seem dissatisfied and unhappy and most of the time they feel themselves useless. Martin (1987) comments on this condition of the characters in following words:
There are many reasons for these characters’ unhappiness. To dwell on “irony and pity” is just a pastime; the real issues are the lack of alignment between profession and occupation, between lovers, between vacation and work, between ideals of Spain and France, between nature and the commercial. As full of disjunctures as a picture puzzle, The Sun Also Rises still presents a story whole, its fragments necessarily scattered throughout the narrative, and readers accept the fragmentation as one the marks of Hemingway’s truth. They seize on the purity of Pedro Romero, the wit of the bemused Mike Campbell, the taciturn acceptances of Jake Barnes, the flip bravado of Brett Ashley as the symbols of the characters who survive the onslaught of real life. 21 (16)
Life and Works of Ernest Hemingway
2.1 Birth and Parentage:
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, on July 21st, 1899. His father was a doctor. He spent much of his time in his early days roaming about in the woods, rifle on his shoulders, or rowing out across the water of a large lake in quest of big fish. Although his family owned a cottage on a lake, he usually slept outside in a tent, the dim light of a kerosene lantern flickering long hours into the night over his temporary cot as he laid reading.
2.1.1 His Schooling:
In June 1917, Hemingway graduated from Oak Park High School toward the bottom of his class. Meanwhile, war had broken out in Europe and, preferring fighting to college, he tried to get enlisted in the army but was rejected because of poor eyesight. Frustrated, he went away to live with an uncle in Kansas City where he found a job as a reporter in a newspaper. He liked his writing job, but he still had a compelling urge to get into the war, and the opportunity came soon afterwards. On learning that Italy was recruiting ambulance drivers to serve on the Italian front; he gave up his job and became an ambulance driver in Italy.
2.1.2 Injuries of War:
Hemingway had been driving behind the lines for only a few days when he found that his work was too safe, in fact, dull. He wanted to serve on the frontlines in the thick of things. So he volunteered for canteen service and was soon riding a bicycle, handing out mail, tobacco, and chocolates to soldiers in the trenches. On his tenth day in Italy as he was handing a chocolate bar to a soldier, a large mortar shell fell near by. Hemingway was almost buried. His body was filled below the waist with over 250 pieces of shrapnel, but after regaining consciousness, he rescued a badly wounded Italian soldier and was turning to help others when he was hit again, with a machine-gun bullet, below the left knee.
2.1.3 Falls in Love with a Nurse:
He spent several weeks in a Red Cross hospital and there he fell in love with an English Nurse Agnes. While in Europe, he received several medals for bravery, and then was sent home, limping on a cane. The Hemingway who went back to America was different person from the young man who had left. War, death, suffering, new people, a new language and love had all been crowded into a short period of time.
2.1.4 Disappointment in Love:
While his feet and legs healed, he read a lot and impatiently watched the mail until, one day after receiving a letter, he suddenly became ill. He retired into seclusion and for days hardly left his room. Finally, on being repeatedly asked by his family, he revealed that the letter has came form Agnes informing him that she was not coming to America and that she had married an Italian army major.
2.1.5 Failure and Fame:
Sad and disappointed, Hemingway went to Paris for study and to make a living by writing. There, he met and became friendly with some of the world’s greatest literary figures of that day- James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and others. But despite their advice and help, he could not sell his literary attempts. Manuscript after manuscript kept coming back from editors, usually without a single word of encouragement, and with only a printed rejection slip. One day, he was sitting at a side walk café on the Left Bank in Paris and complaining to a friend about his ill luck. The friend observed that perhaps the reason why Hemingway’s writings did not sell was that he had not suffered enough and that he did not know misery. Hemingway bitterly replied, “So I have not known misery! So that’s what you think!” Then at first seemingly lost in memory, he narrated the story of his lost love, Agnes, the English nurse. He told his friend about the suffering he had endured in World War 1. Later, he put the story on paper in the form of a novel, A Farewell to Arms. The book proved to be immensely popular and Hemingway found himself famous. We could probably say that an unhappy love affair and his unhappy experiences in war were the motivating factor which made him being a great author.
2.1.6 Reporting in Spain:
He went on writing and was now a successful and established writer. He traveled extensively, hunting in Africa and the Far East, fishing in numerous oceans and seas. He felt greatly attracted by bull-fighting in Spain and spent several years in that country. He covered the Spanish Civil War for American newspapers and could not resist getting into the fight in Madrid. By then, he was known as “Papa”, a bearded huge figure of a man who joked and swore with the best of the soldiers.
2.1.7 World War II:
When World War II began, Hemingway, then living in Cuba, armed his own boat as a submarine chaser and patrolled the Atlantic Coast off the United States. But in 1942, he was in the thick of battle again as a magazine correspondent. He flew from England on bombing missions and became an expert on German rockets. Near the end of the war, he was among the first wave of troops to storm the Normandy beach in 1944. After the war, he retired to Cuba to fish and write. One book proved a failure, and his critics remarked that Papa’s carrier was over.
2.1.8 The Nobel Prize:
Then, in 1952, after years of work, he brought out The Old Man and the Sea, a tale of the struggle of a single, old fisherman against the powers of fate and the ocean. It was the story he had been trying to write all his life, and it brought him the Pulitzer Prize for 1953. In the following year he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Suffering from injuries in plane crashes while hunting wild game in Africa, Hemingway could not go to Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize but in a letter to the Academy he declared that the writer’s life was a lonely one, and that if he shed his loneliness, his work would deteriorate. Still living in Cuba, Hemingway continued writing short stories, novels, and magazine articles. But he also began to take life easier, spending more time on his fishing boat with his wife, whom he called Miss Mary. “No one can work everyday in these hot months without going stale,” he wrote during this period. “To break up the pattern of work, we fish the Gulf Stream in the spring and summer months and in the fall.’
2.1.9 A Life of Adventure:
Hemingway’s sixty-two years were packed with excitement. Living through adventure after adventure, he told stories of his life and love on jungles, the two World Wars in which he played a part in Europe, and a giant 1000-pound fish he battled off the Coast of Cuba. But his writing was more than just adventure stories; he helped to set the style for the modern novel. His lean, muscular prose and dramatic plots have, perhaps, been copied more than any other modern author’s and his work has been translated into all the world’s major languages.
2.1.10 Ill Health and Suicide:
But Hemingway was growing old. His hair and beard had turned white. His old wounds were bothering him. He had to keep standing while writing, and he was frequently unwell. Then Castro took over in Cuba, and Hemingway and Miss Mary returned to America, living in Idaho. He spent a few months in hospitals, began losing weight, and saw his creative ability declining. Early one morning on July 1961, he slipped on the stairs in his home and, not wishing to prolong his suffering, killed himself with a gun. Perhaps he had concluded, like the old fisherman in his novel, that he had no luck anymore.
2.2 His Works:
Influenced by Ezra Pound and particularly by Gertrude Stein whose style strongly affected him, Hemingway published Three Stories and Ten Poems in 1923 and In Our Time (a collection of short stories) in 1925. These early stories exhibited the attitude of mind and technique for which Hemingway later became famous. As the leading spokesman for the “lost generation”, he expressed the feelings of war-wounded people disillusioned by the loss of faith and hope, and so thoroughly defeated by the collapse of former values that they could turn only to a stoic acceptance of primal emotions. The stories are mainly concerned with “tough” people, both intelligent men and women who have dropped into an exhausted cynicism or such primitives as frontiers-men, Indians, and professional athletes whose essential courage and honesty are implicitly contrasted with the brutality of civilized society. Emotion is neglected while bare happenings are recorded, and emphasis is obtained by sarcasm and spare dialogue.
2.2.1 The Torrents of Spring (1926):
It is hardly ever read nowadays. At the time, however, it attracted considerable attention. It is a satirical book in which Hemingway mocks at Sherwood Anderson, Henry James, H.L. Mencken, Gertrude Stein and D.H. Lawrence. The book earned him some enemies. Anderson was hurt and puzzled to find his supposed pupil turning on him: he probably had not realized that Hemingway had never been an uncritical hero-worshipper. Gertrude Stein attacked him in her autobiography declaring that Hemingway was jealous because she and Anderson had taught him all the new about writing, about bullfighting and boxing. To this charge Hemingway subsequently replied in his novel The Green Hills of Africa in which he declared that it was a pity to see Gertrude Stein’s talent having been devoted to malice, nonsense, and self praise.
2.2.2 Hemingway’s First Great Novel:
Hemingway adopted the style and attitude of his short stories into his first great novel, The Sun Also Rises 1926. This book tells about the moral collapse of a group of expatriated Americans and Englishmen broken by the war, who turned toward escape through all possible violent diversions.
2.2.3 Papa’s Second Great Novel:
Success in fictional craftsmanship and in portraying the mind of an era was again achieved in A Farewell to Arms 1927, the tragic love story of an English nurse and an American ambulance driver during the war.
2.2.4 Some Short Stories by Hemingway:
After publishing further distinguished collections of short stories, Men without Women and Winner Take Nothing, he wrote two books Death In The Afternoon 1932, a book on bullfighting, and Green Hills of Africa 1935, an account of his hunting experiences in Africa. With digressions only literary matters these books show a further cultivation of the primitive and brutal levels, contrasted with the hollow culture that had cheated Hemingway’s generation.
2.2.3 Hemingway on Social Issues:
In To Have and Have Not 1937, Hemingway for the first time showed his interest in a possible solution of social problems through collective action. He continued this attitude in newspaper articles from Spain about the Civil War there. Then he wrote The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories 1938, in which appeared two of his finest stories: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
2.2.4 The Longest Novel:
For Whom the Bell Tolls 1944 is the longest novel by Hemingway and is based on an incident in the Spanish Civil War, has universality in its theme that the loss of liberty is loss of everything.
2.2.5 Award Wining Novel:
The Old Man and The Sea written in 1952 was the last and perhaps the finest novel ever written by Ernest Hemingway. It’s an allegorical novel in which man fights against nature for his luck and survival. The theme of the novel is no doubt the aim of Hemingway’s own life that a man can be destroyed but cannot be defeated.
The Lost Generation
The Sun Also Rises was aimed by Hemingway at his own generation. He says so in its two epigraphs, one is from Ecclesiastes: One generation passes away and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever. The other is Gertrude Stein’s re-echoed judgment: ‘You are all a lost generation.’ In the novel The Sun Also Rises are exhibited all the European pleasures which Hemingway and Fitzgerald were presenting. Going to bars, spending night in drinking alcohol and having fervent sexual activities was the greatest part of the lives of the generation called the ‘lost generation’ by Gertrude Stein.
Hemingway brings before us a group of unhappy US expatriates living in different parts of Europe. As no one in the novel The Sun Also Rises seems happy except Pedro Romero, the handsome young bullfighter and Lady Brett Ashley who adds him to her sex circle. Jake Barnes the narrator of the The Sun Also Rises is a real suffering man and the code hero of the story is emasculated by a war wound. We can say that all the characters taken as the representatives of the lost generation are desperate people. They all hide their desperation behind drinking and talking and being rude to those who do not know the code (the code of life).
Throughout the novel The Sun Also Rises we see a number of young people making the rounds of the bars in Paris and resorts in Spain, talking, drinking, fishing, attending bullfights and making love. According to Gorman (1926):
Through this group and through a shift of scene from the Left Bank in Paris to Pamplona in Spain during fiesta- time, Hemingway manages to achieve a vitriolic albeit manifestly impartial portrait of what might be called the over-nerved and over-sophisticated colony of expatriates in Europe. 1
The lost generation also refers to the time period from the end of the World War1 to the beginning of the Great Depression. Moreover, the term is often used for the generation of young people coming of age in the United States during and shortly after the World War1.
It has been already mentioned that it was Gertrude Stein who for the very first time who named the generation that came of age during the World War 1 as the “lost generation”. This phrase spread quickly throughout the whole world as a trade mark of the generation of the early 20th century in America. The world adopted it as an accurate description of the age as most of them spent their adulthood in working, fighting and dying in war. They did not really get time for enjoying and making spree, as war attacked them suddenly and badly. The horrible conflict took them so suddenly they did not even realize that it has taken away their each and everything. The Great War set new standards for death and immortality in war. The war shattered all the beliefs in traditional values of love, faith and manhood.
It happened directly after the war that all the illusion got vanished from the minds of the Americans. They came to realize that death is the worst in all mysteries and the greatest of all the secrets of the world, when it reveals itself. And death is the truest and the most bitter of all the truths of the life. Young men, enthusiastic soldiers and juvenile teenagers like Ernest Hemingway deliberately offered themselves for the country because of the illusion of bravery they had over their minds.
They thought they were strong and were the men of war. But all their illusions washed away when most of them, in fact a large number of them killed by the first bullet which pierced their chests. It was the time when the sense of pain, anguish and prevailing death struck the fragile sheet of illusion and shattered it into innumerable fragments. It was the point where they realized that they were immortal and death is for everyone. This was the stage where weapons took lead over manhood and the power of the muscles on which the American men felt proud but nothing proved worth in war. The powerful men, enthusiastic soldiers and juvenile teenagers were all on the mercy of a single bullet. Most of them got killed and others got physically and psychologically hurt.
With the loss of man power and different body organs they were no-men and that’s why they have been represented by the character of an impotent Jake. Even after the war the war veterans were scared and psychologically suffering as the war memories haunted their minds constantly. And due to the sense of physically weak and being handicaps they lost their remaining interests in life which lead them to become a lost generation. Hemingway (1979) comments in Men at War as follows:
When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you. It can happen to other people; but not to you. Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you. After being severely wounded two weeks before my nineteenth birthday I had a bad time until I figured it out that nothing could happen to me that had not happened to all men before me. 2
Drinking, dancing, having sex and sleepless nights became the most important sectors of the lives of men and women of the post-war American society. They refused to follow; in fact they rebelled against the traditional concepts of social code of American life. They adapted a new code, a self-made code, n new way of living where there was no space for spiritual and religious values, no charm for married life, no respect for tradition and customs and no regard for any old pattern of life. They became morally and mentally sick. Most of the time they remained drunk and used to have fervent sex.
Hemingway by writing his novel The Sun Also Rises brings before the readers the new changes that took place in the post-war new American generation which Gertrude Stein named the lost generation. First of all Hemingway with the help of his puppets Jake and Brett describes the impact of war on sex. Jake has been shown impotent by Hemingway for two reasons. First of all his impotency is the symmbol of the impotency of the men who took part in the war. The world “man” means more than a male figure to Hemingway. A man is a symbol of power, dignity and sexual energy. To Hemingway a man means soldiers, a fighter and a worshipper of true norms and values of life. Hemingway’s man is not made for defeat. But Jake is a true loser, he lost is manhood, he lost his illusions, in fact he lost everything in war and even afterwards he loses his beloved Brett. Next, Jake stands as a symbol of destructiveness of sex by war. Hemingway taunts and teaches his lost generation who has become a victim of illegal sexual relations and is destroying the other sectors of its social life by being involved in frequent sex. Both men and women violated sex. The reason behind such frequent sex lies in the mass killing of male members of the American society during World War 1. A huge number of American women became widows as their husbands got killed or in other words sacrificed their lives for their country during war. Brett is a true example of such women as she also lost her husband in war. Brett consequently turned nymphomaniac due to starving sexual emotions and similar was the case with most of the post-war American women who due to the feelings of being insecure and man-less turned bitches like Brett does in the novel The Sun Also Rises. The sexual thirst also lead the male characters like Cohn to violate his code of ethics and he attacks Jake, Mike and Romero as well. It has also been seen that Brett’s desire for sex prevents her from entering into a proper relation with Jake, although she loves him. Hence we can conclude that it is sex that undermines Cohn’s respect and Brett-Jake relation. Gorman (1926) comments:
The structure of the book is easily outlined. It is concerned with the effect of Lady Ashley on four men: Jake Barnes, who tells the story; Robert Cohn, a young Jew; Michael Campbell, engaged to Lady Ashley, and Romero, a young bullfighter. 3
Lady Brett is the factor that is resulting in the negative consequences of sex and is also resulting in the destruction of relations and the code of life. Brett is representing the liberated women of post-war American society who did not hesitate to have sexual relations with multiple men. Brett by having multiplex sexual relations with different men bred envy and jealousy among them which always results in disaster. By portraying the character of Brett in such fashion Hemingway shows his hatred for the nymphomaniac women of his age and he is also teaching a lesson to the male members of the society by taunting the cruel and vicious women. According to Nagel (1996), “Brett is by no means the first representation of a sexually liberated, free-thinking woman in American literature but rather an embodiment of what became known as the “New Woman” in nineteenth-century fiction.” 4
The war in a true sense revealed upon the American men that what it meant to be masculine. The pre-war idea of being brave and fighting as a soldier was totally crushed by the brutal war. Survival depended just upon one’s luck rather than bravery. The traditional concepts of what I meant to be a man were completely undermined by the realities of war. Jake in the novel represents the new man of post-war America. In fact he is a man apparently, but inwardly war has rendered him impotent which in other words means unmanly. He carries the burden of being impotent and feels he is less of a man than he was before war. Through this masculine insecurity of Jake, Hemingway puts before us the insecurity felt by the war veterans who felt insecure in their manhood. Hemingway doest not state this fact directly but shows it in Cohn’s pursuit of Brett. This behavior of Cohn is regarded unmanly by Hemingway as Brett is not a real woman but a nymphomaniac. Similarly Hemingway presents Brett a woman, who is manlier as compared to other male characters. She is a very liberal minded and a physically strong woman. She has a boyish haircut and she is sexually independent and does sex with any male of her choice. However, on the other hand the male characters are running after her as her pets.
Another characteristic behavior of the lost generation of Hemingway shown in The Sun Also Rises is that they were anti-Semitists. Anti-Semitism is a behavior or belief hostile towards Jews. In the novel we see most of the time Robert Cohn is seen with extreme hatred by the other characters. Jake is apparently is his friend but hates him inwardly and even while narrating the story and introducing Cohn he seems unhappy and unimpressed although he knows that Cohn was a superb boxer. There are two reasons behind hating Jews on part of Americans and British people at that time. First they were Jews by religion and in Christian religious teachings it is taught to the Christian to hate the Jews. Through a Christian’s point of view Jews are inferior and should be abominated. Secondly, Jews were being hated due to their German background. Everyone knows that it was Germany who launched war by attacking several parts of the world specially America and England. So that’s why Cohn was the center of hatred of Americans and Britons. W.H. Auden states a similar kind of theme in his poem “Say This City has Ten Million Souls”. The sense of the poem is the estrangement of the immigrants which were Jews of German origin which they faced in a new country (America). The poet laments at the inhuman treatment which the immigrants met at the hands of the local people. The refugees did not enjoy any sense of respect and honor even in a country like America. The poet refers to the case of Jews who migrated to America during the war but they were not treated well by the local population. They were refused to have new passports to go back to their country. They were not given any place of shelter to live. Auden satirizes by saying that Americans have a spared place for their pets but not for us (Jews).
Hemingway though he never explicitly states that Jake and his fellow men and women were a lost generation and were living an aimless life and that their aimlessness was a result of war. He implies these ideas through his portrayal of the characters’ emotional and psychological lives. They were no longer able to believe and rely upon the traditional American beliefs which gave meaning to life. Those men and women who experienced the war became psychologically and morally lost and like the characters of The Sun Also Rises they wandered here and there in search of happiness and rest. Their activities were drinking, traveling, and debauchery which show their aimlessness and disillusionment. They wanted to escape from their meaningless lives. But they were nevertheless helpless and unable to escape their misery as war had rendered them handicaps and impotent.
In short the post-war American society served as a blinker for Ernest Hemingway through which he focused on the suffering lost generation of America. Hemingway, as he was a part of the society and a member of the lost generation, had a lot of pity for his fellow men who suffered at hands of war. He by writing an account of brutalities and impacts of war on his people exhibited the effect of war on the society and the new norms and values set after the World War 1. Hemingway realized from his own war wounds the pain felt by his fellow men. He learnt from his own restlessness and aimlessness that his generation was suffering a great deal. He shows his sincerity with his generation and his love for his traditional values of life by taunting and criticizing the follies and faults of his society. He is no less than a saint for his people because he taught them the negative consequences of war and the illusion they had on their minds. He taught them the lesson that all human beings are immortal and war is not the solution of everything. To conclude we may say that his preaching is based on hatred for war and love for humanity and values and norms of life.
Post Traumatic Stress
In this chapter we will have an insight into the main cause of the disillusionment of the post-war American society. This chapter will mainly deal with the impact and effect of World War 1 on the psychology of the American people and also the psychology of Ernest Hemingway. It has already been observed that Ernest Hemingway’s main concern was the post-war American society and the psychological state of the suffering minds of the people. Hemingway presents before us a generation of people who were completely lost and disillusioned by the aftermath of the World War 1 and hence this generation got named the lost generation. The marked features of this generation were aimlessness, restlessness, wandering place to place in search of pleasure and going to bars for drinking and sex.
Now the reason behind such activities of human beings lies in the psychological study of mind and human behavior in daily life. The first thing to keep in mind is the effects of war on human mind. The war serves as a trauma for human mind causing anxiety, fear, restlessness and lack of sleep (insomnia) to those who somehow become a part of war. The war incidents and after-war memories of those incidents cause a lot of stress over human mind making it impossible for the person victimized by the war.
The similar thing happened to the America’s lost generation, because they participated in the World War 1 as soldiers, drivers and nurses. The horrific conflict made
them suffer a lot during and after the war. Most of them got killed by the brutal war while others got sever injuries. But those who survived the war were no less than psycho patients. Most of the remaining members of the post-war American society felt victims to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental disease caused by the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. PTSD is a sever kind of state of mind in which the patient suffers due to a trauma or a shock which he had in his previous life. Trauma or shock can be delivered by an accident, fight with someone, war, rape, etc. The patient suffering with PTSD shows the symptoms of insomnia (lack of sleep), excessive intake of sleeping pills, drinking alcohol, lack of confidence, etc. Now coming back to the post-war American society and keeping an eye over the characters introduced to us by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises we see a lot of war victims, after being crushed by the war felt victims to PTSD. First of all we see the most suffering character in all characters that is Jake Barnes. He served his country in World War 1 and got injury in his genitals which emasculated him. Jake despite being an active and a responsible person of the society shows the symptoms of PTSD in him. He could not sleep at night and is most of the time haunted by the war memories. We see him in a very agonizing state of mind due to two main reasons. First of all he lost all he had in war as war rendered him impotent. The consequences of this impotency badly effected his love relation with Brett because he was unable to consummate his love. Although love is self-destructive force but Jake’s agony is the worst because he feels sexual urge for Brett but could not fulfill it due to having no erection. All these factors make Jake a real suffering PTSD patient. Then we have Robert Cohn as a victim of PTSD. He despite having a reputation as an athlete and a boxer was suffering from lack of confidence. He is totally out casted by the society just because he is a Jew. We see him feeling himself inferior to other characters. Due to this he starts running after such women who show a little courtesy towards him. Cohn though is not much affected by war but still shows some traits of characters which put him in list of PTSD victims. Then is the character of the war-nurse Lady Ashley Brett. She is also a victim of war-trauma because she lost her husband in war. The effects of PTSD are also very harsh on her and she turns nymphomaniac. Having the feelings of loneliness and man-less she creates the character of 20th century liberated woman. She represents the ‘new women’ of 20th century who were sexually independent. Brett had multiplex sex relations and she could have sex with any man of her choice.
Now watching these characters from Hemingway’s point of view we find that all of these characters are type characters and are depiction of psychological state of mind of the PTSD suffering lost generation. Each character, whether Jake, Cohn or Brett, represents a particular group of people who suffered the trauma of war. And it is Hemingway’s staunch observation and his involvement in his society and the analysis of the psychological behavior of his members of society that he presents them truly before us.
Hemingway’s works are an exhibition of his confessions and his exposure to his society. It often happens that we find him within the story walking along his characters. As a soldier in World War 1 he himself got injured and recollected the war-memories afterwards. It will not be false to say that Hemingway himself was a victim of PTSD and war memories and fears haunted him as well. His own illusions got shattered due to the brutal effects of war and war injuries and that is why he created an impotent Jake as a hero of his novel. Jake is actually Hemingway himself, whose philosophy and mentality is entirely based upon ‘Nada’ that means nothing. For Hemingway man is born into a real world that is natural and has a physical shape but this world is totally indifferent towards mankind. He believes that all the forces in the universe are trying to crush man but the man is always undefeated. Hemingway believes that this is a world without purpose, order, meaning or value and there is no God like thing at all. Darkness to Hemingway is equal to death and this is the reason why Hemingway and his heroes are sleepless at night due to the fear of death. Light is a symbol of hope for Hemingway and his heroes and that’s why they are always in search of a luminous place.
Mankind according to Hemingway’s point of view is victim of irrational accidents like wars, death, loss and destruction of universe. To Hemingway man is born with many illusions and his belief upon God is his greatest illusion because this is a Godless universe. For Hemingway, all traditional, religious and philosophical explanations of the universe are false illusions which turn to disillusion when man is victimized by an irrational disaster or a calamity and then man finds peace and rest in activities which give him immediate pleasure (good food, drink, sex, etc). To Hemingway this universe is a place where only the fittest and the toughest can survive as the disastrous powers of universe are all the time trying to crush civilization and mankind.
Hemingway’s aim of life and his philosophy’s main theme is that a man can be destroyed but can not be defeated. Similar is his point of view about the human civilization which is fighting against the powers of universe. He says that universe is always destroying the generations after generations of mankind but a man should always remain optimistic in his approach towards life. If one generation goes, then another generation comes and the earth abides forever.
This is the lesson for the readers from Hemingway that despite all the calamities and the despair, one should be optimistic in his approach towards life and one should always be hopeful.
Sense Of Nostalgia In Hemingway’s Novel
Hills Like White Elephants is a short story by Ernest Hemingway that offers a brief glimpse into the lives of expatriates during the pre- World War 1 time-frame. Hemingway’s personal experience as an expatriate living in Europe during the 1920s can be seen throughout the images so keenly described in his short story Hills Like White Elephants and is an accurate piece of literature based on experiences that were common amongst other expatriates of that generation – this story reflects many trends popular with expatriates who had traveled to post-WWI Europe. The story can be interpreted through the exploration of the cause of those trends and ideals held by that (lost) generation.
Through this opening passage we are able to understand the location of where our characters are traveling. The beginning of our story sets a scene for the reader:
The hills across the valley of the Ebro’ were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies (Hemingway).
The Ebro is a river in Spain Northeast of Madrid, much closer to the border of France. The two characters of the story, the American and the girl are traveling towards Madrid, the central hub of Spain, a place that could solve problem they are having. We understand towards the end of the story, that the couple is discussing the possibility of an abortion, something that was highly illegal in the 1920r’s, especially in a catholic country such as Spain. To understand the mentality, outlook and understanding of life the characters have, presented to us through dialogue, we must first understand the life that an expatriate experienced in the early 20th century. The reason we can rely on this story as one that is accurate to the real experiences of an expatriate in Europe is because the writer, Ernest Hemingway, was an expatriate himself.
Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1899. At the age of eighteen he volunteered as a Red Cross ambulance driver during World War 1 and was sent to France. This choice is what gave Ernest much insight and relation that helped him develop his works later in life. A large reason of expatriates in Europe during the 1920r’s is due to the result of World War 1 and the exposure that many young Americans experienced when there. In Matthew Boltonr’s essay on Hemingway as an expatriate, he states:
In the wake of World War I, a combination of cultural and economic factors conspired to make the city an attractive destination for footloose Americans. The United States involvement in the war meant that some five million young men had been exposed to life in Europe. With the war over, some of these veterans found that France held far more attraction for them than did their American hometowns (Bolton).
We understand that, World War I resulted in a cultural movement, exposing many Americans to the expatriate life of Europe – the added effects of the war resulted in the generation that fought it to be lost to Europe – the lost generation. The reactionary decade that followed the war gave way to many institutions to American culture that dissuaded much of the lost generation to return to American.
Prohibition noble experiment in outlawing the manufacture and sale of alcohol, had gone into effect in January of 1920. Mainstream American culture, and the legal apparatus that supported it, was resolutely bent on reintegrating the veterans of the Great War into a life of temperance, family values, and the Protestant work ethic (Bolton).
Following Hemingwayr’s understanding of post-World War I America, we can
expect that the writer did not want to return to a land of ?…godliness, propriety, and respectability were of paramount importance (Bolton). The buying power of the dollar to the Franc also was a large deciding factor to the average expatriate. In an article Hemingway wrote to the Toronto Star, for which he worked as a foreign correspondent in Paris, he stated: An American or Canadian can live comfortably, eat at attractive restaurants and find amusement for a total expenditure of two and one half to three dollars a day (Reynolds 5).
Hemingway was an expatriate himself and through the experiences he gained through World War I, as well as working as a foreign correspondent – among many other things and experiences throughout his life – we are able to peer into the life of an expatriate (the life of an expatriate is divulged less through Hills Like White Elephants than it is through Hemingwayr’s other works, such as The Sun Also Rises, but if we can understand the author’s background, or have at least read any of his other works, we are able to acknowledge the meaning of the story and the underlying stories that are not written).
The story of Hills Like White Elephants is one that is built on the curiosity of the reader. The subject of abortion in the story is never directly divulged by the characters, but is hinted upon throughout. The main characters, only known as the American and the girl, are seen to be expatriates experiencing a life of exploration through Europe – them presently being in Spain. They are in a train junction and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went on to Madrid (Hemingway). The full written story takes only eight or so minutes to read and at the end of the story we read that “…the train comes in five minutes (Hemingway). This shows us, through the lack of information and the state-of-fact writing that Hemingway is praised for, that there was much silence during that time period. This helps us understand the setting further. The man in the story seems to push for the girl to receive the procedure. The girl is reluctant, but through the setting we can say that, though reluctant, the girl is also unsure of what to do because they are at a junction – which tells us that the couple has travelled this far already in order to get to Madrid where this procedure could be done.
The man in the story is very matter-of-fact, realistic, and shows a lack of remorse towards the situation. The girl, someone he says he loves, is the opposite. Because of the manr’s pressure, she is considering to not proceed with the abortion. The choice of the man is reason enough for her to understand that this is the life that the man chooses to proceed with a life of adventure, experience and excitement – not one that involves starting a family and taking care of a child. As an expatriate, experiencing a life that is freeing and exciting is something that is expected, but through the story we can see that even if this life is something that the man wants – and maybe it was something that the woman wanted at a certain point – it is not that same now. In the text, we read:
“That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us
The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of
two of the strings of beads.
“And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.”
” I know we will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people
that have done it (Hemingway).
In this excerpt, we see that the man still believes that through this procedure happiness will return. The idea that happiness will return is something that is frequent in the ideals of an expatriate, the belief that after devastation, there will always come happiness – after the abortion, happiness will return. This can relate back to World War I and how many young soldiers found comfort in the aftermath and the beauty of Europe, while back in America, the country was bracing for the aftermath of many young Americans returning home.
Throughout the short story of Hills Like White Elephants we are provided with little informational text aside from descriptive elements of setting and such. We are required to rely on our own understanding in order to decipher the subject and meaning of the story. Through the research, explanation and understanding of the trends of expatriates in Europe – and what cause so many young people to decide on a life as an expatriate we can understand the story better. It seems to be one that shares with us the mentality of expatriates. Many focusing on the good life, the freedom and expressionistic ideals that are not present in America this plays a huge roll on the choices of many expatriates in Europe.
In conclusion, a work like Hills Like White Elephants is one that evokes a sense of nostalgia and melancholy once we understand the trends and ideals of the subjects involved. The life of freedom, happiness, wealth, adventure and relaxation is a powerful pursuit and one that, once held, is something that is hard to let go of. With an understanding of life in the post-war 20th century, we are able to relate to a lifestyle that we have dreamt of one we have imagined to be just a fantasy but one that is not simply happiness and comfort. The depths achievable by man in pursuit of self-discovery and freedom may be deep but the heights that can come may be worth the turmoil and risk. This story explains that through less than enough words and we are the ones who need to unearth the true meaning of the work.
Hemingway, Ernest. Hills Like White Elephants. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction.
Ed. R.V. Cassill. New York: Norton & Company, 1995. 443-447.
Bolton, Matthew J. “An American in Paris: Hemingway and the Expatriate Life.” Critical Insights: The Sun Also Rises, edited by Keith Newlin, Salem, 2010. Salem Online.
Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway: The Paris Years. 1989. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.
Kennedy, J. Gerald.Imagining Paris: Exile, Writing, and American Identity. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1993.
Facts About Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway won the Italian silver medal of valor and a Bronze star. Ernest almost died in a back to back plane crash. Ernest was accused and also cleared of war crimes. He wanted to fight in World War I but ended up being an ambulance driver instead. Ernest survived through many diseases and injuries. Now that you have learned a little about Ernest Hemingway let’s get into more about his life.
Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1898 in what is now Oak Park Illinois. Ernest attended Oak Park public schools through high school and also went to River Forest high school. While in school Ernest also played football and boxed. Ernest mother was a religious women and his father was a country physician. His father taught him hunting and fishing. While his mother wanted him to play the cello and sing in the choir. He spent summers with his family in the northern Michigan. In conclusion. These are just some facts about Ernest Hemingway.
After high school Ernest Hemingway decided to forgo higher education before he started his writing career. Ernest’s first job was as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. A position was made for him by his uncle. Ernests tenure for the newspaper was short, it was six months. Ernest Hemingway did this instead of collage. In conclusion this was just the beginning of Ernest writing career.
Ernest Hemingway was known for for writing novels like: The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell To Arms, For Whom The Bells Tolls and The Old Man And The Sea. Ernest’s contribution to society was in his writing. He used his own thoughts and feelings to write in a way that people could understand. All in all there are many interesting facts about Ernest these are just some of them. In conclusion Ernest Hemingway was a very interesting person to research and learn about. Ernest lived with his mother and father and also his sister. Ernest’s mother wanted him to do choir and his father taught him to hunt and fish. After high school before he started his writing career his first job was a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. Ernest wrote many novels like: The Old Man At Sea, A Farewell To Arms and The Sun Also Rises. These are just some facts about Ernest Hemingway but there are many more out there that you can learn about.
www.brandaiddesignco.com. “The EARLY YEARS.” Ernest Hemingway, www.ernesthemingwaycollection.com/about-hemingway/ernest-hemingway-early-years.
Characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley in “The Sun Also Rises”
On the last page of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, lead characters Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley come to a verbal understanding that they can never be together. As Jake is impotent and Brett someone who heavily values sex, a long-term physical relationship between the two will never realistically work. However, I find it striking that, despite the outward sentiment, Jake and Brett are, in fact, together.
The many suitors that Brett had fallen in and out of love with throughout the story are nowhere to be found, and it is Jake who is by her side. While physical limitations may not allow for a traditional relationship between the two, it becomes clear here that Jake and Brett have developed a bond much greater than that. What is it that enables Jake – and no one else – to be by Brett’s side by the end of the novel? I believe that it is Jake’s possession of afici??n, or an enhanced masculinity, that grants him this togetherness with Brett. Where Jake begins the novel as an insecure man terrified to face his reality, he ends it self-assured enough to comfortably be with Brett without relentlessly chasing after her in a romantic sense. In this essay, I will further discuss the significance of afici??n and how Jake comes to realize it; he is the man with Brett by the end because of the reclamation process he undergoes throughout the novel to regain his masculinity.
Before the events of the novel take place, Jake had been rendered impotent due to an unfortunate accident that occurred during World War I. Though his friends don’t necessarily seem to view him a negative light, he exists in this hyper-state of insecurity regarding a diminished view of his own masculinity. He attempts to behave in ways that a traditional male would – spending an evening with a prostitute, for example – in an attempt to prove to himself that, despite his condition, he is still a man. However, the traditional male persona that he tries to outwardly project does not help strengthen his relationship with Brett; as the novel progresses, though, Jake redefines what it means to be a man. The centered and self-assured person that Jake becomes is the only male character that Brett feels comfortable resting arm in arm with by the end of the novel. I would like to detail some of the ways in which Jake is able to make this transformation, and how his interactions with Brett develop as a result of it.
Jake’s fishing trip with his friend Bill – an event described in extraordinary detail – is the first step in his transformation from a self-doubting man to one fully confident and aware of his afici??n. This scene is significant for a number of reasons – the first being a turning point in the novel in which Jake is revealed to be highly skilled at a traditionally masculine activity. As we have seen throughout the semester, Hemingway tends to describe sporting events – things that men should enjoy – with an intensity and passion that is not as noticeably found in other aspects of his stories, and he makes no exceptions with the way he describes Jake’s performance as a fisherman. Jake’s successful capture of the trout is depicted through careful and comprehensive detail, thereby portraying him as someone who understands the complexities of something that a man should understand. Even though he may have viewed himself as lesser, it becomes clear here that his physical deficiencies do not supersede his status as a man. This serves to foreshadow his position as an afici??n and someone capable of having bullfighting knowledge during the fiesta later in the novel. The larger impact of this scene, though, is how Jake is compared to Bill.
As I have mentioned earlier, it is Jake and no one else who ends up by Brett’s side at the end of the novel. The fishing scene is one of the major indications throughout the text of why Jake is granted this status above anyone else. While fishing, Jake and Bill split up; as Bill goes to a calmer area downriver, Jake decides to test his skills at the strongest part of the waterfall. Despite this challenge, Jake actually catches double the amount of fish that Bill does. This is significant because it establishes Jake as a man who can remain composed and find success in uncontrollable environments. Once the story shifts to the fiesta, and things begin to devolve into madness, Jake’s friends all lose themselves; as evidenced here through his skills as a fisherman, though, Jake is able to remain poised in the face of difficulty. This ability to maintain his focus amidst the harsh rapids plays directly into the fiesta in which Jake is the only male character able to stay calm and centered despite the chaos.
Upon arriving to Pamplona, Jake’s masculinity becomes something recognizable to others. Montoya, the head of the hotel they stay at, singles out Jake from his friends, telling him that they’re .not aficionado like you are (Hemingway 136). To Montoya, Jake’s injuries do not matter; the only thing that is important is that he possesses afici??n. Hemingway describes the ways in which afici??n raises one’s status at the fiesta:
Afici??n means passion. An aficionado is one who is passionate about the bull-fights. All the good bull-fighters stayed at Montoya’s hotel; that is, those with afici??n stayed there.Photographs of bull-fighters who had been without afici??n Montoya kept in a drawer of his desk. They often had the most flattering inscriptions. But they did not mean anything. One day Montoya took them all out and dropped them in the waste-basket. (Hemingway 136)
At the fiesta, all of the aficionados stick together; their coalition is portrayed as a place for men to be amongst other men who share a similar passion for bullfighting. All other men present at the fiesta – that is, those who do not possess afici??n – are not as important; so, despite Jake’s limitations as a man, he becomes the unquestioned leader of his group. Jake shares moments with Montoya, as well as with the bullfighter Romero, someone who Montoya also describes as being an aficionado. This links two men who, on the surface, could not be more different; just as Romero can keep his focus in the center of the arena, Jake is able to stay composed in the middle of the frenzied fiesta.
Jake’s conversation with Romero is another key moment in the text. In it, Romero, an esteemed and popular bullfighter, actually defers to Jake’s impression of the bulls before revealing his own opinions. It is almost as if Romero is afraid that his thoughts might differ from an aficionado like Jake. Through this conversation, it becomes clear that Jake is on the same level as someone who is considered the ultimate afici??n. This is a striking transformation for Jake to go from someone who turned away the advances of a prostitute due to his uncertainty about his own status as a man to someone embraced by a bullfighter who is portrayed as the most in touch with his masculinity. Jake’s knowledge of bullfighting, then, enables him to reaffirm his own masculinity, regardless of traditional standards of what it means to be a man. The conversation with Romero allows Jake to reclaim the masculinity that he felt he had lost, and this subsequently gives him the ability to remain calm amidst the chaos of the fiesta. If tumultuous events such as getting knocked out by Cohn and watching Brett enter into a relationship with Romero had occurred earlier in the text, Jake may have been left feeling vulnerable and turbulent; now, however, he has found a way to navigate his way through these events with an ease that he did not previously have. This level-headedness is the reason why Jake and Brett can be together at the end of the novel. While their friends and the world around them crumbles, Jake is the only one able to maintain his poise amid the chaos of Pamplona.
In the early parts of the novel, on the surface, it appears that the reasons Jake and Brett cannot be together is solely due to the physical nature of Jake’s wounds. Far more significant than that, though, it is Jake’s diminished mindset of who he is as a man that keeps him apart from Brett. When they ride in the taxi together in Paris, they are like two strangers (Hemingway 35). It is as if Jake feels like a relationship between the two of them is impossible because of their inability to express love for one another physically. However, while fishing with Bill, and through conversations with Montoya and Romero, Jake comes to a clearer understanding of what it means to be a man. His possession of afici??n, a trait described as a higher form of masculinity, allows him to regain and heighten a sense of self that he had lost during the war. His connection with Brett does not require the traditional masculinity that his friends can provide, but something greater – this connection is most obviously established while sitting with Brett in the bullfighting arena. Here, they can be publicly intimate together in a way that none of his friends have any chance of achieving.
Early in the novel, Jake and Brett display an intense amount of affection for one another. Brett shares things with him that she does not share with anyone else, and Jake is always thrilled to listen; however, they are stuck at a crossroads where, despite this love, they cannot be intimate with one another. Unlike other male characters, though, Jake eventually finds a way to translate the private moments of togetherness he shares with Brett to a more public setting. Robert Cohn, for example, once the fiesta begins, serves the novel solely to follow Brett around like a love-sick puppy; he is unable to separate their intimacy in San Sebastian from the public and overwhelming fiesta, and ultimately becomes a distant memory rather than a friend. Jake, on the other hand, finds a way to bridge this gap. Nowhere is this more apparent than when he helps Brett understand the bullfights.
When the bulls are brought into the arena, Jake gives Brett some insight into one of the bull’s movements: Look how he knows how to use his horns.He’s got a left and right just like a boxer (Hemingway 144). Brett, as a result, expresses extreme excitement in the ensuing moments when she sees the bull demonstrate the movements that Jake said it would. As I have discussed earlier, Jake’s passion for bullfighting is no small subject in the text; instead, it acts as his defining characteristic and a way for him to reclaim his masculinity. Therefore, it is significant that he is able to share his passion with Brett, and this ultimately allows them to communicate on a level that none of the others can. Though they cannot be physically intimate, this shared bond over something described with intense beauty and passion brings them together more than Brett’s interactions with other men do. This emotional intimacy supersedes the physicality that they lack – and that originally acted as a barrier between them – enabling them to share something much more significant. Where Cohn is unable to become someone who Brett enjoys the company of, Jake is effectively able to find a way for he and Brett to be linked through a common understanding of the passion of bullfighting. Because of this, Jake is the only character that Brett can truly be with.
Toward the end of the novel, Jake vacations in San Sebastian while Brett and Romero are in a relationship together. Earlier, Jake was constantly keeping tabs on Brett and had an inherent desire to know everything about his personal life; here, though, after reclaiming his masculinity, he has gained a calmness that allows him to live a more confident and self-assured life. Romero, the ultimate afici??n, is sent away by Brett because even he does not have this type of masculinity that Jake possesses. Romero urges Brett to change everything about herself because she does not meet his standards of traditional feminine beauty; because Jake is not a traditional man, Brett’s more subversive appearance and behavior – shorter hair, for example – does not matter to him in the slightest. Where Romero does not accept Brett for who she is, Jake, through his own transformative identity change, is able to understand Brett on a deeper level than any other male character can.
At the end of the novel, Brett tells Jake, We could have had such a damned good time together (Hemingway 250). If Brett’s musings about what could have occurred between herself and Jake had happened earlier in the novel, it is likely that Jake would have projected his insecurity upon her and subsequently pushed her away. Instead, though, the balance in his life he discovered in Pamplona allows him to remain poised in the face of Brett’s monumental declaration. The possession of afici??n that he had gained both through experiences fishing with Bill and discussions with Montoya and Romero in Pamplona gives him the ability to rise above others who do not hold this enhanced masculinity and self-assured calmness. Transitioning from two strangers in the Paris taxi to Brett resting her head upon Jake’s shoulder in Madrid, the two are publicly intimate in a way that Jake was uncomfortable with before the events of his fiesta and his regained sense of self. Jake’s last line, Isn’t it pretty to think so? (Hemingway 250), does not serve to limit the idea of what might have been, but rather brings up the possibility of a potential future between the two of them outside of what constitutes a traditional relationship.
The Lives of the Post War Generation in “The Sun Also Rises”
Earnest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises details the lives of the post war generation, otherwise known as the lost generation. The post war generation has suffered a lot during the war, and it has affected the way that they go through life, and the way they handle their relationships. Two of the characters from the lost generation, Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley, have a very complicated relationship. Their relationship has become a sort of fixture in their life. For this reason, not much in their life will ever change.
When Brett shows up at Jake’s home in Paris with Count Mippipopolous, Jake asks her, Couldn’t we live together, Brett? Couldn’t we just live together? (Hemingway 55). Jake asks her to be with him, but Brett replies that she would always tromper him, which means that she would commit adultery if they were married. Jake had received a wound during the war so he’s not able to have sex. Brett doesn’t want to be with him if she can’t have sex. In her eyes, even though she loves him, her desire for sex is so important that she would sleep with other men if they were married and that was never going to change.
Jake isn’t perfect either. When he isn’t with Brett, Jake picks up women and makes them fall in love with him. He promises to give them something that he is physically incapable of giving, and he always leaves them. Jake says that he does this because he is bored (Hemingway 23) when Brett had called him a romantic. Relationships have become something to just pass the time with. He is hurting himself and others by doing this.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Jake really does love Brett. Jake is ready to do anything for her. He gets into fights for her. He helps her out when she calls for him. He even arranges some of her affairs like the bullfighter, Romero (Hemingway 185). Brett is similar in the way she interacts with Jake. Brett continuously looks to Jake for support. Despite her love affairs with other men, she drags him along with her or follows wherever he goes. If she needed help, Brett seems to know that no matter what, if she were to ask Jake for help, he would help her. Could you come? Hotel Montana, Madrid. Am rather in trouble. Brett. (Hemingway 238-239). Jake had planned to be done with Brett and to go relax in San Sebastian, but the second she sends word for help, he changes his route for Madrid.
Life for Brett and Jake will never change. They have a bond of understanding and longing with each other. It doesn’t matter if Brett sleeps around with other men, Jake still wants to be with her. Brett feels awful about it though, and believes that he too will feel bad if she sleeps around when they are together. Even though they have relations with other people they find themselves drawn back to each other. Jake will do anything for Brett. Brett relies on that fact and her need for his support. They are constantly putting themselves in each other’s lives because they simply cannot be without each other even if they are not together. They are hurting each other but they do not care. They do not know what to do with their lives or how to live them, so it will never change for them.
The Sun Also Rises – Analysis Essay
The Sun Also Rises focuses primarily on the dissolutions of the post-war generation and how they cannot find their place in life. In Hemingway’s text, Jake Barnes is one of the lost men. Jake wastes his life on being alone and drinking the majority of the time.
Within the first half of the book, Robert Cohn asks Jake, Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already? To this, Jake answers, Yes, every once in a while. Jake is an example of the lost men, having the freedom to choose his place, but having chosen poorly.
The novel shows how characters learn how to leave as a result of something traumatic occurring. The main character, whom is searching for their path in life, is Jake. While in a carriage ride early on in the story, Jake refuses a kiss from Georgette. Jake tells the excuse that he is sick. Everybody’s sick. I’m sick too, Georgette tells Jake. The motivation of using being sick as an excuse is shown during a conversation between Jake and the Count. The Count tells Jake that is the secret. You must get to know the values. In order to search for these values, you must however have the willingness to pay the price. First one must acquire them, and then one can live by them.
The characters had a each been harmed either mentally or physically from the war. From where they are now, it can all be traced back to the war. Jake, for one, had a physical war injury, leading to it being mental. Being emasculated, Jake’s affair with Brett turned into a comical visual, which he admits. Jake’s wound is a metaphor of the entire lost generation. While Jake’s wound deprives him of the ability to perform sexually, the symbolic importance is that it does not rid him of the desire. The characters of the novel often desire fulfillment and purpose, but lack the ability to find it.
Visualized in the shoe box project, Jake shows his desire to be alone. Jake receives a guest while at home, Aren’t you working? He said. No, Jake said. They went downstairs to the cafe. Jake had found the best way to get rid of friends. He had found that once you have a drink, all he needed to say was: Well, I’ve got to get back and get off some cables, and it was done. This showing that Jake predominantly felt happiest when he was along.
There was one occurrence of Jake feeling completely happy, which was when he and Bill went on a fishing trip. On this trip in Bayonne, there were no women, all that the men did was fish, drink wine, and talk. When they had returned to town, Jake met Brett at San Sebasti??n, his peacefulness is destroyed.
One of Jake’s old friends, Montoya, owns a hotel. Montoya was a patron of bullfighting. He is one whom admires and accepts Jake for appreciating and understanding bullfighting. Montoya trusts Jake so much that he asks him for advice about how to handle Romero, who may well be the youngest and greatest bullfighter. Understanding the implications of his actions, Jake introduces Brett to Romero, which breaks Montoya’s trust in Jake. Due to Romero’s frustrated love for Brett, he is opened to Brett’s bad influence. Once Jake realizes his own weaknesses, he finds that it had cost him his aficionado status.
The majority of Jake’s actions lead to him being alone, which he seems to enjoy most. Even when he is on the fishing trip in Bayonne, Bill sings a song about pity and irony, which seems to be the overall tone of his character. There is pity when it comes personal suffering and endless searching. However, there is irony when it comes to separation of characters.
The Modernist Movement and “The Sun Also Rises”
The Sun Also Rises is a modernist novel written by Ernest Hemingway, which was published in 1926 and is widely considered to be one of Hemingway’s most distinguished literary achievements. This piece of historical fiction is about the life of Jake Barnes after World War I. He was in love with a woman, Lady Brett Ashley, he meant during the war.
Ashley refused to start a relationship with Barnes because of his impotence and spent most of her time switching between men until she got bored and moved on. They lived in Paris with other a few other British and American expatriates and spent all their time drinking and partying before deciding to travel to Spain to watch the bullfighting festival. In this book, Hemingway illustrates many strong themes; including the directionless way of life the Lost Generation seemed to live, the damage that can be caused by sex, as well as it being symbolic of the war, and the exorbitant drinking that is tied to the memories and aftermath of the war. Of the copious amount of motifs demonstrated in the text, the forms that are most prominent are the varying demonstrations of non-traditional masculinity and the insecurities that are present in society post-WWI, which can be displayed by contrasting the varying aspects of the novel’s masculine characters, as well as considering the similarities that they may share.
One of the products of comparing Hemingway’s fictional masculine personalities show in The Sun Also Rises could be the resulting example of how the principles of society changed over the course of World War I, as well as displaying the aspects of life that remained the same as they always were. Robert Cohn was the only non-veteran among the group of friends; he tried to hold on to the same system of morals, values, and romance that he believed in and lived by before the war. Cohn grew up feeling like an outcast because he was Jewish, so he took up boxing when he was attending college at Princeton. However, his life was controlled by his insecurities that manifested from his feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, as well as from the way he was treated by the other men: Due to his misunderstood religion and his lack of participation in the war, Robert Cohn was a common target for ridicule and mockery among the posse. On the flip side of the same coin, Jake Barnes, the narrator and protagonist of this novel, was an American veteran who was wounded in WWI and was left impotent as a result.
For many reasons, Barnes was a very fitting symbol for Hemingway’s the Lost Generation – the generation of men and women after WWI who thought their lives had no purpose. His confidence, as well as his manhood, were crippled by his war injury, but the rest of his insecurities surfaced when the woman he loved rejected him due to his impotence. When Barnes desperately asked Lady Brett if they could just live together, she crushed his feelings by declining and claiming she would just tromper [him] with everybody (Hemingway 62). As the book when on and Lady Brett didn’t change her mind, Barnes behavior seemed to become more and more cynical. Barnes’ uncertainties played a fairly prominent part in his life because he allowed his self-doubt to be the main facet of his personality. Though Jake’s condition is clearly the most obvious display of not being able to feel masculine, it is absolutely not the only example.
All of the veterans in this novel feel insecure for some reason or another because they couldn’t find the strength to move past their fears. Of all the divergent male characters in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, one could make the argument that Lady Brett Ashley was, in many ways, the more traditionally masculine character out of them all: She had a short haircut, referred to herself as a chap, wore men’s clothes, had a masculine name, and an insatiable need for sex. Ashley was even introduced as having her hair brushed back like a boy’s. (Hemingway 30). Lady Brett clearly did not worry about her reputation or the way other people perceived her: She was a very independent woman and was not in any rush to get married again, which was considered to be very unusual behavior for a woman during this time period. As men are commonly known for, Lady Brett frequently used different men for her own sexual needs, then discarded them as though they were garbage.
Unlike most of the women in this century, Ashley always seemed to be in control of her life, which gave her opportunities that were generally experienced only by men, and Lady Brett was a very well-connected woman. She refused to enter a relationship with a man she considered to be the love of her life, Jake Barnes, simply because he was impotent and could not perform the way she desired, but constantly toyed with his feelings and enlisted his help with other men. While most of the men in this book seemed to let all of their insecurities control them, Lady Brett Ashley embodied the qualities that were generally given to characters that were manlier. Another important symbol that represents one of the differing versions masculinity in this novel is the bullfighters that live in Spain. Hemingway used bullfighters, specifically Pedro Romero, as an absolute subject of how the male characters should have been perceived in the world. Pedro Romero’s life was basically the exact opposite of how the group from Paris’s lives were. He was young, handsome, charming, and talented, as well as confident and very dignified. While the Paris expatriates were living lost and aimless lives, Romero’s passion for fighting bulls gave his life a sense of purpose and meaning.
The characters in The Sun Also Rises consider bullfighters to be sort of like celebrities. In the second chapter of the books, Robert Cohn is complaining to Jake Barnes that he thinks he may be wasting his life, and Barnes reply’s, Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bullfighters (Hemingway 18), implying that the only people that truly live their lives to the fullest are the people who are genuinely extraordinary. Hemingway illustrated all of the expatriates from The Sun Also Rises that lived together in Paris as very different types of people with different thoughts and beliefs. Jake Barnes felt as though the war took away his manhood and confidence, which had left him feeling lost. However, Robert Cohn grew up constantly feeling alienated, but still tried to hang on to the values that he believed in before the war began. Lady Brett Ashley seemed to be one of the more masculine characters, overshadowing all her male counterparts, except for possibly Pedro Romero; who embodies everything a man really should be. Hemingway was very skilled with illustrating themes by using symbols; he made it a lot easier to understand the messages he was trying to send.