Taxi in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises
"The taxi went up the hill, passed the lighted square, then on into the dark, still climbing, then leveled out onto a dark street behind St. Etienne du Mont, went smoothly down the asphalt, passed the trees and the sanding bus at the Place de la Contrescarpe, then turned onto the cobbles of the Rue Mouffetard. There we lighted bars and late open shops on each side of the street. We were sitting apart and we jolted close together going down the old street. Brett’s hat was off. Her head was back. I saw her face in the lights from the open shops, then it was dark, then I saw her face clearly as we came out on the Avenue de Gobelins. The street was torn up and men were working on the car-tracks by the light of acetylene flares. Brett’s face was white and the long line of her neck showed in the bright light of the flares. The street was dark again and I kissed her. Our lips were tight together and then she turned away and pressed against the corner of the seat, as far away as she could get. Her head was down."
- The Sun Also Rises, 33
From the torn street to the cold circulation of the impartial taxi car, this paragraph vibrates with Hemingway’s ideological loathing for rising modernity. It is my contention that the taxi exists as a blunt statement that society is under attack by the machine. The taxi is a machine, and it cannot take them anywhere without their input. Machines are run by people. People are the masters of machines, and when machines start to dictate the movement of those who supposedly run them, humanity is lost. I believe Hemingway wished to show Jake and Brett as an example of how the modern world affects our humanity, specifically that culture and interpersonal relationships are under attack by the machine. Jake is crippled. He is not merely impotent. The injury and his impotence are a product of modern warfare, and a reflection of the effect of the machine on each of us as individuals and therefore the whole of society. The taxi is a terrible entity which kidnaps Jake and Brett from one sidereal pit of sameness and only delivers them to the same place in the end. Rather than allowing them the freedom of mobility, in truth its main function, the taxi is incapable of doing anything but regurgitating them at the same place it swallowed.
Jake and Brett ride away from one bar in a taxi, with no destination in mind, only to arrive at another bar. This scene as a whole shows the cyclical nature of their relationship, and as a metaphor represents the ennui of the “Lost Generation” in Paris. Just as Jake and Brett take a taxi ride to nowhere, the entire population rides a taxi to nowhere. Brett is constantly searching for an escape from her misery, which is caused primarily by her being lost in the mire of the modern Parisian atmosphere, where the streets are being torn up and rebuilt for no apparent reason. When in Paris, neither of them grow or change, they are just rebuilt...