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‘Sex Explains It All’: The Destructiveness Of Sexuality In Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

1441 words - 6 pages

Virginia WilsonENGL 2340October 3, 2014Simrill'Sex explains it all': The Destructiveness of Sexuality and its Influence on The Lost Generation in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises is based on the lives of those in the Lost Generation, a group of men and women whose experiences in World War I undermine their belief in virtue, gender equality, sex, and love. This group of people lives their lives devoid of true emotion due to the harsh conditions and memories of WWI. Characterized by inevitable, self-inflicted cruelty, the main characters, Jake Barnes and Lady 'Brett' Ashley are tied together through their untraditional love story. Jake Barnes, a soldier of WWI and now expatriate French journalist, lives a life of self-loathing due to an injury from the war that, essentially, leaves him impotent. Lady 'Brett' Ashley is a strong, independent woman, who was a nurse during the war, where the two characters meet, where her then fiancé passes away as a result of dysentery. The two are in love, but are torn apart because of Jake's injury that hinders his ability to satisfy Brett sexually, an aspect of Brett's personality that she is unable to overcome until the very end of the novel. In accordance to this thematic element, Brett is the most important and pivotal character. Brett 'travels' from man to man in hopes to fill the void she feels with Jake. Hemingway is using Brett to establish the negative consequences of sex. Brett and her carelessness in regards to sex and the men with whom she chooses to exclusively be involved shows the loss of values of the Lost Generation. By doing this, Hemingway establishes the destructiveness of sexuality and how it influences those in the Lost Generation.The destructiveness of sex in The Sun Also Rises can, essentially, be broken down into two separate themes within itself. First is the element of sexual jealousy. In accordance with the Lost Generation, there is sexual jealousy that arises as a result of the undermined morality that is displayed by most characters. A key aspect of Jake's character is that he was permanently wounded from the war. However, the reader is only given subtle hints throughout the entire novel of the specifics of the injury. Nevertheless, there are numerous points that imply that Jake has an inability to have sexual experiences or engage in sexual activity. It is not until later in the novel, in Book II, that Jake openly discusses his malady (while fishing with Bill). Hemingway first introduces Jake's impotence, still subtly, in chapter III when Georgette, a French poule or prostitute, places her hand on him, in a seductive fashion, and Jake immediately removes it. His explanation towards removing his hand in such an offensive fashion is simply that he is "sick" and then, later after dinner that he was "hurt" in the war. Following dinner with this stereotypical 'whore', Jake and Georgette run into a group of Jake's acquaintances: Robert Cohn and his...

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