Masculinity In Hemingway´S The Sun Also Rises

1024 words - 5 pages

Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises has his male characters struggling with what it means to be a man in the post-war world. With this struggle one the major themes in the novel emits, masculine identity. Many of these “Lost Generation” men returned from that war in dissatisfaction with their life, the main characters of Hemingway’s novel are found among them. His main characters find themselves drifting, roaming around France and Spain, at a loss for something meaningful in their lives. The characters relate to each other in completely shallow ways, often ambiguously saying one thing, while meaning another. The Sun Also Rises first person narration offers few clues to the real meaning of his characters’ interactions with each other. The reader must instead collect evidence from the indirect hints that Hemingway gives through his narrator, Jake Barnes. The theme of masculinity, though prevalent in the novel, is masked in this way. Jake war wound, Jake and Robert Cohn’s relationship, and the bull-fighting scene show the theme of masculinity.
The principal exploration of this theme derives from the revelation of Jake’s war wound. It is never openly stated, but is rather implied that a certain war injury has taken either his “masculinity” by him to being able to perform sexually. Jake’s self-consciousness of his issue is seen when he undressed himself and looked in the mirror. “Undressing, I looked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed…. of all the ways to be wounded. I suppose it was funny,” (Hemingway 38). Jake is ashamed to have this wound and the wound creates a grand injury in his masculinity. His wound though his never revealed to the reader, so only Jakes thoughts, words, and actions led to the conclusion of his wound. Thomas Strychacz states “Jake, lacking his manhood, must overtly struggle to constrict a sense of masculine selfhood.” To make up for the wound Jake feels as if he needs to prove his masculinity, even hiring a prostitute to prove his manhood. Jacob Leland says Jake wants “to appear masculine outside his circle of friend.” When he is having dinner with the prostitute Georgette, Jake tells himself, “I had picked her up because of a vague sentimental idea that it would be nice to eat with someone,” (Hemingway 24). He does not have dinner with her because he misses dining with a woman, but possible he truly means that he misses the sexual experience. His war wound shows his lack of masculinity in himself.
Jake and Robert Cohn and their relationship is another indicator of the theme of masculine insecurity. Hemingway plays up the tensions of competition and jealousy to demonstrate just how uncertain his male characters are. Cohn seems to sincerely be keen of Jake, and while Jake is normally nice toward him although he does not really seem to reciprocate Cohn’s warmth. Their relationship changes once Jake discovers Cohn’s fling with Brett. After this incident, he is more unfriendly toward him, and more...

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