The Character of Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises
WWI consumed the lives of millions. Those lucky enough to have lived through the war did not necessarily to get away unscathed. Many war survivors had lost a large chunk of something called hope. Hope feeds the soul and is the fuel for love. Hope also supplies meaning in a confusing world. Lacking hope and love, feelings of disillusionment, loneliness, inadequacy, and alienation were commonplace.
The characters in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises struggled with this, particularly Robert Cohn. Cohn was a ray of hope that people just couldn't bear. As in a dark room when someone opened the shade - the light hurts and one would rather close the shade than get used to the light. "It seems the bull-fighter chap was sitting on the floor. He was waiting to get strength enough to get up and hit Cohn again. Brett wasn't having any shaking hands, and Cohn was crying and telling her how much he loved her, and she was telling him not to be a ruddy ass. Then Cohn leaned over to shake hands with the bull-fighter fellow. No hard feelings, you know. All for forgiveness. And the bull-fighter chap hit him in the face again." As Mike spoke, he clearly showed us how much Cohn was pursuing Brett and how strongly everyone, including Brett, was rejecting and alienating him.
Robert Cohn was probably not even capable of truly being in love. He had severe self-esteem problems in college. "He took it out in boxing, and he came out of Princeton with painful self-consciousness and the flattened nose, and was married to the first girl who was nice to him." Cohn was looking for love and thought he could find it in a girl who would care for him. All of the characters were dealing with this whole issue of self. Cohn, however, dealt with his problems in a different way. "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 felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton." Cohn was willing to work and suffer physically to try to gain back some of what he wanted-acceptance and love. The others tried to simply escape their problems in sex, alcohol, work, or fishing. This is a similarity between Cohn and Romero. Although boxing is not as threatening as fighting bulls, the work and torment and sweat involved show the hope that they have that the end result is worth the work and pain. Cohn believed that true love existed, but he had never known it. "For four years his horizon had been absolutely limited to his wife. For three years, or almost three years, he had never seen beyond Frances. I am sure he had never been in love in his life." "She [Frances] was very forceful, and Cohn never had a chance of not being taken in hand. Also he was sure that he loved her."
Robert Cohn had two rather lengthy relationships-both three years or more. He did not...