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Critical Analysis Of The Sun Also Rises By Ernest Hemmingway

831 words - 3 pages

In post WWI Paris, we meet Jake Barnes and his clan; a ragtag group of melodramatic drunks with expensive taste. Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises is the embodiment of the time period, one part Jazz Age, one part Lost Generation. From the start of the book, one gets a heavy sense of aimlessness. This is just what the characters in the book are—especially our dear Jake Barnes, an ex-patriot who’s war wound left him impotent and raw. Wounds and wounding work in this piece by reinforcing the themes and motifs of dissatisfaction, identity, and the faultiness of communication.
Throughout the book, Hemmingway makes it clear that despite the excessive and seemingly carefree lifestyle of his characters, they are miserable. It is said by Lady Brett Ashley in the first glimpse of intimacy we see between her and Jake. Jake says he feels “like hell” quite often. Even such characters as Robert Cohn and his fiancé, Francis talk about being upset about living in Paris, or not getting married. Each character one encounters is unhappy in one way or another. They are all wounded. Of course it is inferred that Jake has been both physically and mentally hurt in the war and he struggles with that every day, drinking copious amounts to stay sane. Brett is bruised from her past relationships and takes it out on all the men in her sight. Cohn seems to be the butt of every wise crack, which angers him to the point of actually fighting his compatriots. Hemmingway gives the reader a glance into the lives of each character one short dialogue at a time, both intriguing us and giving us a sense of the immense pain held by them.
Aside from the theme of dissatisfaction, one can see the major issue of identity clearly. After the war, Jake finds himself lost in more ways than one. He is disillusioned and stripped of his manhood. In this upset, he strives to find himself again through excess. On the fishing trip he embarks on with Bill in Spain, Bill tells him, “You’re an ex-patriot. One of the worst type… You’ve lost touch with the soil… Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed with sex. You spend all your time talking, not working...” (Hemmingway 120). In this excess, Jake and the others become more lost than before. Jake’s worth is the friends he makes, Brett’s is the men she has on her arm, Cohn’s is the popularity of the newest book he...

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