Textual Analysis- The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises is a 1926 novel written by American author Ernest Hemingway about a group of expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watch the bullfights. This book was written less than ten years after World War I, and just as nations were rebuilding themselves, individual people were trying to figure out how to live and find satisfaction and meaning of their lives (Blassi). On the surface level, The Sun Also Rises may appear to be a love story between two start crossed lovers, but it portrays a much deeper meaning. Hemmingway’s novel helped define this “lost generation” of confused young people profoundly affected by the war. The characters constant partying, and attitudes toward love, masculinity, and sex reveal their sense of disillusionment and fragmented identities caused by World War I. For the characters in The Sun Also Rises partying and alcohol plays as an escape mechanism from the world that they are living in. However, Hemmingway’s characters are irresponsible and aimless, the alcohol seems to escalate situations, and allows them to avoid the pains of dealing with their dissatisfaction and identity crises caused by the war. In one scene in the novel the protagonist Jake proves what an artificial distraction drunkenness is when he states, “Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people,” (Hemingway 150). Here you see the true loneliness of Jake that he covers up with alcohol and partying. When he sobers up he will remember how much his friends “disgusted” him. Without having a true sense of whom the people he associates himself with Jake will never get a true sense of identity. This group of friends also seems to define themselves based on the amount of partying they do, or how much they drink which seems to point to the fact that they surrender themselves to this lifestyle of disillusion. Jake explains that, “ Mike was a bad drunk. Brett was a good drunk. Bill was a good drunk. Cohn was never drunk.” (Hemingway, 152). Cohn is always seen as a negative person, or someone who is looked down upon. Perhaps, Jake looks down at Cohn because of his unwillingness to hide from his problems. Another scene where constant partying proves to be ineffective as a coping mechanism is during the Fiesta, “It seemed out of place to think of consequences at the fiesta. All during the fiesta, even when it was quiet, that you had to shout any remark to make it heard.” (Hemingway, 158). This was a time in the novel where the characters were constantly drunk for seven day and where most of the conflict happened. This goes to show that the characters have this sense of disillusionment about what is real and what consequences are for their actions. Toward the end of the novel Brett seems to understand that they need a cure in their lives rather than the quick fix of alcohol. “ Don’t get drunk” she said. “Jake don’t get drunk.” (Hemmingway, 250). Brett is essentially begging Jake to stay sober. Perhaps, the characters are beginning to realize that in order to be honest with one another and to face their constant state of unhappiness they must remain sober and try to grasp who they really are as individuals. The love story between Brett and Jake in The Sun Also Rises is a postwar, cynical type of love. When love is mentioned at all in the book it is usually brought up in a fight or in a conversation with the context of sex. Some of the characters are struggling with an outdated sense of love after World War I. All the lovely, romantic ideas about love were ruined after the war, where it seems it is a world that can no longer maintain old-fashioned ideas. Brett is dealing with a new sense of independency and promiscuity, and the injury that Jake received during World War I that renders him from having sex are barriers from them being together. The old fashioned ideas of love are excluded from this...
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