18 September 2012
Wounds and Their Significance in The Sun Also Rises
A wound is most often thought of as being physical, like a burn from a hot oven or a broken bone from falling out of a tree. However, some wounds are harder to identify, due to the reason that they are mental or emotional. These types of wounds shape the affected individual’s personality and their interactions with others. This is often demonstrated in The Sun Also Rises written by Ernest Hemingway. The novel set in 1924 Paris and Spain tells the story of Jake Barnes, a World War I Veteran who struggles to maintain a relationship with his true love, Lady Brett Ashley, since she cannot accept his impotence. Jake’s life is disrupted constantly from his impotence, as he struggles to sustain friendships and continue his loyalty to Brett. All the physical, emotional, and mental wounds of the characters are revealed by Hemingway slightly differently to show the distinct effects of each injury.
Jake obtained an injury in World War I that caused him to be unable to have sex. Hemingway does not state this fact outright, but gives a few hints and implications throughout the first part of the novel. One of the first examples of this is when he and Georgette are talking and she asks him, “What’s the matter? You sick?” and Jake replies “Yes” (Hemingway 23). Jake does not want to tell everyone about his impotence because he views it as emasculating and heightens his already apparent insecurity about this subject. This lack of self-confidence affects his relationship with Brett. The subtle technique of revealing situations is also used to show that Brett is not comfortable being in a relationship with Jake without sex. Jake is therefore left in a physiologically straining relationship with her, since he refuses to give up his loyalty to her. Ultimately, his physical war wound affects him so that he is emotionally torn between loving Brett and having to deal with her have affairs with...