Representatives Of Lost Generation In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises
The work that I choose to elaborate is called “Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises” which was written by the famous writer Ernest Hemingway and published in 1926, it is written in the first person – Jake Barnes, who is the narrator and the protagonist of the novel as well. The plot of this novel was a group of disillusioned expatriates who wandered in Europe in the mid-1920s , especially France and Spain, where the latter holds the bullfight fiesta every year and it plays a driving role during the novel, Jake thinks that will live the life to the fullest as well. Furthermore, Lady Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes, who are two main characters of this novel, representatives of “Lost generation”, which means the aimless and meaningless life due to they are shattered in traditional values, such as manhood, womanhood and love, also drunkenness and relations between male and female characters can be inferred some stereotypes in contemporary. On the other words, these group of expatriates are portrayed by Hemingway with such extents, also Hemingway utilizes a few allusions to refer the society at that period.
Jake Barnes, as the narrator and the protagonist of this novel, he once served as a soldier in World War I and unfortunately he got wounded and lost male ability. According to his narration at the beginning of the novel, he does not clearly and directly indicate it but subtly implies that he gets impotent and has lost the ability to have sex. Besides, Jake usually hides his inner feeling and does not speak out his mind directly, he is good at talking to others with his trite expression. Also he is full of anxiety of his impotence since other male characters do not need to concern the trouble, even comes with jealousy because he has burden of feeling that he is less of a man than he was before (Sparknotes, 2003). Another female main character – Lady Brett Ashley, a divorced socialite and independent woman, also Jake’s lover, who has short boyish hair with a jersey dressed. She is so charming that be attractive to men and capable of charming men with her beauty and power. But however, Brett does not want to commit to any men at all due to her independence that makes her unsatisfied, because she has liberated sexuality and desire to have affairs with men. In addition to that, she has been with Jake Barnes during the World War I when Brett took care of his wound, whereas separated afterwards, it possibly is due to the war Jake lost male ability as Brett has sexual desire to men. In short, Jake loses masculinity and Brett does not want to give up sex, although she loves him. Hence, sexuality is a determining factor between Jake and Brett, the other characters mostly are men who threatened Jake with this issue.
Despite that Jake does not reveal directly about his corrupted masculinity, he constantly implies that the reason why Brett gives up being with him is the fact that his male insecurity, namely his impotence, which does not satisfy Brett’s sexual desire. Besides, Brett mentions that she can get drunk with her male friends without having affair while Jake thinks those men are homosexuals, then in certain way Jake becomes anxious about his loss of masculinity that makes Brett discontent. Moreover, his friend Robert Cohn is interested in Brett but unlike him, Cohn does not concern about the trouble in male insecurity, in addition to the last man Pedro Romero, who is a nineteen-year-old bullfighter, it possibly is because Romero is so pure and full of strength in masculinity that fascinates Brett, in other words, he entirely shows his masculinity when a bullfighter successfully kills the bull. Then, Brett falls in love with Romero at once as Brett never feels affectionate with such a young and confident man since in the past she is only with those experienced men. Summarily, male insecurity drives gender relations and also presents a kind of trite stereotype.
Failed communication also could be a part of stereotype at that time, for instance, one of the characters in the novel, Robert Cohn who is one of Jake’s friends, committed to go to Spain with Jake and act everything nicely as a usual friend. But gradually, he had a crush to Brett without revealing to Jake clearly, even having affair with Brett in Spain, and also Jake depresses his unspoken jealousy of Cohn instead of speaking out. Despite the fact that the characters hang out often, their gatherings are not delightful because they never honestly and faithfully communicate with each other from the bottom of the heart, this kind of disloyal communication is in vain, it is a failure of relationship. However, Bill Gorton, another friend of Jake’s, is a hard-drinking, humorous and respectful veteran, he is good at using humor to cope with the emotional and mental drawbacks of postwar. Bill has great and strong connection with Jake since they are both American veterans. Moreover, their communication can be said that it is genuine and direct surprisingly as Jake never discusses faithfully with any other friend, also Jake hides his real feeling and thoughts with his trite expressions all the time, or in other words, Jake thinks in one way but behaves in another. Thus, lack of communication ruins everything, in certain degree it is seemed as a triteness in contemporary.
Excessive drinking leads to another climax. All characters especially the veterans of the war, they frequently drink alcohol to distract from their uncomfortable feelings that related to the war, they wander from a place to another, from bar to bar, drinking has occupied most of their time. Because of excessive alcohol, many things are ruined eventually, for instance, Brett breaks her appointment with Jake and explains that she forgets due to drunkenness. Besides, certain violence is fueled by hard-drinking, the expatriates always have meaningless fight for women and sex which are nonsense and could be avoided. It is believed that Jake and his acquaintances are mentally, morally and emotionally lost (Bracken, n.d.), as with Lost Generation. There be an aspect that sense versus reason: the alcohol is a fuse that their inner feelings are hidden and being rational, but then drunkenness drives them to be sentimental and deprived of reason. After the war, members of lost generation do not believe in anything, lost in value and want to escape from cruelty of reality.
After World War I, an obvious change happened to women. In the early 20th century, a new name – “flapper” which is used to describe a new type of women (Benner, 2004). Compared to men who prefer to smoke the strong tobacco and cigars, women are inclined to hold a cigarette in hands and smoke the relatively mild and clean cigarettes in public, danced with a new style and have sexual freedom, even divorce is a common thing to women. This kind of women are remembered as “new women” in early 1900s. In the novel, the independent and liberated Lady Brett Ashley who is a typical example to show what a modern woman is. Another instance, Cohn’s girlfriend – Frances Clyne who overpowers over Cohn: On one hand, she does not permit Cohn to take weekend trip when Jake asks Cohn to meet his female friend; On the other hand, she has strongly desire to let Cohn marry her in a hurry but refused and broke up with Cohn afterwards, because she is getting old and does not waste time spending on the one who never wants to marry her, Cohn ends up enduring Frances’s assaults. Furthermore, Brett, who frequently pours out emotion trouble to Jake but breaks promise with him and having fun with other men instead, Jake never feels uncomfortable and discontent, or in other words, he cheats on himself and is willing to be abused. It can infer that women’s status at that time is no longer as inferior as before the World War I, even much more superior than men as they confidently have chance to exercise their rights and duty, not being led by someone’s nose anymore. In this case, women’s issue threatens the stereotype contemporarily since men are supposed to be dominant in the society.
Basically, World War I brought a huge change to Europe undoubtedly, after the war the society was full of decadence and people got mentally and emotionally lost that was called “Lost Generation”, which referred to members who are lost in love and traditional value, also did not know the significance of the major conflict that had brought them much depression. Gender relations had partially altered, of traditional notions in the prewar, masculine was supposed to be stoic, brave and tough. But later the gender status was altered mostly, women did not take place in some industries until the war was over since in the past they exclusively were capable of bearing children, for example, women took part in politics actively from then on as they had rights to implement. In addition, women had to be responsible for the whole households because of the loss of breadwinners who died in the war so they faced varied difficulties in economic, albeit with some occupations or professions could be taken place, the unfair and limited salary was a stumbling block for them to retain a basis of domestic life. On the other hand, divorce was made easier and women were unsatisfied with staying at home as housewives when the numbers of women went up and joined workforce, but still most women were not as free as men, they made good contribution in keeping home intact when men were absent, in this way, due to all households’ work which were handled by women, such labor work was described as a kind of “do their bit for the war duration” (Grayzel, 2014).
Referring of women’s issue, it reminds me of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and the wife of Bath’s. Wollstonecraft is best known for the work – “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” which advocates that women get rights to exercise and get to the status as equal to men. The wife of Bath, a woman who suggests that women should have more sovereignty over men in marriage, having affairs with other men. Up to this point, the wife is similar to Lady Brett Ashley, they belong to that kind of liberated sexual women who overpowers men chiefly. Hence, the ideology of Wollstonecraft and the wife of Bath’s are different and the latter alike Brett’s behavior which more likely threatens the trite stereotype.
In conclusion, gender relations in Hemingway’s “Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises” are influenced by World War I, which destroyed the spirituality of Europe. For most men, the major problem of the war was loss of masculinity because most warfare and conflict led men lost sense of chivalry inevitably, men are no longer knights that defending women as when women went up and more women joined in workforce. The gender relations among lost generation – Jake and Brett, the demand for carnal experience thwarts them since Jake lost masculinity and Brett has liberated sexuality; Robert and Frances, broke up terribly due to Robert’s romantic view of love and his desire for acceptance that flatters his ego. Furthermore, failure of communication is also sort of trite stereotype that the male bondings are convenient, Robert and Jake do not like each other as they get used to hiding their true feelings but later coming out with fights that fuelled by alcohol which is shown that drunkenness ruins things. However, Bill and Jake are the genuine friendship, they honestly and faithfully show real empathy. What’s more, the bullfighting not only determines the presence of masculine but also as female behavior, a picador takes risks to spear the bull is seen as a seduction, alike the picador’s coming to the bull like fliration which refers Brett as the teasing bullfighter destroying men. Above all the aspects mentioned, this novel chiefly threaten contemporary stereotypes.
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