Close Reading on The Sun Also Rises
This passage I choose is a dialogue between Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley in the final chapter of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises(1926). ). It happens after Brett sent Romero away, and asked for Jake’s support through telegrams. Jake hurried to the Madrid hotel where Brett stayed, and they had a seven-page- long conversation. This piece of dialogue is pretty much the end of their conversation as well as the end of the novel. In this dialogue, Brett is telling Jake not to get drunk, revealing one of the most important topics Hemingway addresses in this novel: excessive drinking. Except when Jake and Bill went on their fishing trip, drinking is always excessive, and most characters enjoy getting drunk. In general, excessive drinking provides a way of escaping the reality for these characters. Being drunk allows them to avoid thinking about their problems and, ultimately, confronting them. For example, drinking could help Jake not thinking about his impotence, and the fact that he would never be with Brett. Drinking could prevent Brett from the thinking of herself as a slut, and the thinking that her life was aimless and miserable. In Mike’s case, getting drunk becomes an excuse for him to express his true feelings (usually his resentment on Cohn and his insecurity about the engagement with Brett). Under Hemingway’s description, the outcome of excessive drinking is always bad, like Mike’s rudeness and violence. Excessive drinking always makes Jake and his friends have a worse emotional experience than they expected, such as the fight when Cohn beat Jake out. Some drinking scenes in the previous chapters are different from this one. These differences are subtle but crucial in the development of the content. In the beginning chapters (Book I), Hemingway implies that Jake’s routine life contains lots of drinking. A common day of his would have following activities – wake up, work for a few hours, have lunch, drink, meet a...
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