Hemingway's Construction Of A Hero In The Post World War Era

1904 words - 8 pages

In The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway uses a number of unconventional methods of writing to tell his story. It is a story of an unlikely hero, an unusual set of characters, and an unsatisfying ending that is given away immediately at the beginning of the book. Regardless, Hemingway is able to capture the attention of his audience by the book's dialogue, descriptions, and most importantly, clear and intriguing characterizations. It is with the usage of unconventional methods of storytelling that Hemingway is able to convey his own opinions on these characters and their actions to prove the existence of a new set of standards in the post World War I era.

Hemingway begins the book immediately with an unconventional opening. What appears to be a typical character introduction in the first few pages of the book quickly changes to atypical when it becomes apparent that the discussed character, Robert Cohn, is not even the protagonist of the novel. The protagonist, Jake Barnes, on the other hand, receives minimal attention until a couple of chapters into the book. Even then, Jake's expected life story never does appear in the novel leaving most questions of his past unanswered. Contrastingly, towards the end of the novel, Robert disappears into the background with little attention while more and more focus is placed on Jake. This may lead to the question of why there is such an emphasis on Robert's entry into the novel while Jake's entry is so dismal. Furthermore, why is Cohn's exit so inconspicuous when his entrance was so grand? These questions can be answered by analyzing Hemingway's portrayal of the two characters. This ultimately allows for the discerning between the two to show Jake as the true hero of the novel regardless of his physical and emotional inadequacies compared to the classic storybook hero.

The characters of Robert and Jake are similar in some ways and very different in others. The in-depth account of Robert's past at the beginning of the book shows him to be an outsider. His years at Princeton were plagued with insecurity and alienation for being Jewish. In turn, he learned boxing, believing that his knowledge of how to fight would somehow make up for his lack of self-confidence. "He cared nothing for boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton" (Hemingway 1; ch. 1). He continues to be an outsider holding on to his insecurities in his later interactions with the other characters. His refusal to drink in order to maintain constant control of himself around his friends shows his distrust towards the group and detachment from them. This causes Robert to be viewed negatively by his friends. More importantly, Robert is the only male out of the set of characters who did not fight in the war. This causes an unbridgeable gap between their views of the world while emphasizing the...

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