Escaping the Wasteland
The fishing trip within Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises provides a pilgrimage of rejuvenation to the novel's participating characters, Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton. Escaping the wasteland that is Paris, the two men "shove off," (Hemingway, VIII), to Burguete, Spain, where they fish for trout on the Irati River.
The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Jake was left impotent from an injury incurred while serving with the Italian Front in World War 1. His inability to consummate his love for the insatiable Brett Ashley, and the sterile social backdrop of Paris provide a striking similarity to the Arthurian Fisher King motif of a man generatively impaired, and his kingdom thusly sterile. Bill Gorton, an amicable ally of Jake, and one of the few morally sound characters in the novel, serves as Galahad, gently kidding Jake about his injury, promoting self-acceptance and healing.
Hemingway often depicts nature as a pastoral paradise within the novel, and the fishing trip serves as his epitome of such, entirely free from the corruptions of city life and women. Doing away with modern modes of transportation, they walk many miles gladly to reach the Irati River. While fishing, Jake and Bill are able to communicate freely with each other, unbound by the social confines of American and European society. The men also enjoy the camaraderie of English Veteran, Harris. This is quite different from the competitive relationships that can develop between men in the presence of women. Bill is able to express his fondness for Jake openly without it "mean[ing] [he] was a faggot," (VIII), and Jake has no qualms over his fish being smaller than Bill's, in what could be interpreted as an admission of lesser sexual virility.
The fresh air of Burguete provides clarity of mind beyond the scope of the Parisian lifestyle and it is evident within Hemingway's prose and style. Jake's diligence and dedication to each of the steps involved in...
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