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The Sun Also Rises: An Insight Into Hemingway’s Use Of Symbolism

2090 words - 8 pages

Earnest Hemingway is one of the most revered and debated writers of all time. He authored many great novels including: For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Sun Also Rises. He was a true master of the English language, and his unique skill set becomes apparent in each of his works through the use of his exemplary literary knowledge. Hemingway shows an exceptional utilization of literary devices in his well acclaimed novel, The Sun Also Rises. From the bull-fights of Pamplona to Lady Brett Ashley, Hemingway fills the story line with seemingly endless examples of symbolism giving each of the characters and figures its own specific purpose and underlying meaning.
Imperialism in The Sun Also Rises is shown through the character of Lady Brett Ashley. She has a way of collecting men like land: the more she can accumulate, the more powerful she becomes. Like a conquering army would move from country to country after each victory, she moves from man to man after they fall to her power. Peter L. Hays writes, “Thus, a spirit of rebellion from domination by exacting masters, a need to be free from the control of others, runs through the novel, as Jake seeks to separate himself from Brett’s hold on him”(238). Throughout the novel, Jake Barnes strives to fall out of love with Brett and free himself from her power. Meanwhile, she continues to instill infatuation for herself in other men, thus creating for herself the resemblance of an imperial power. This is also shown by Hays when he writes, “The imperial force in The Sun Also Rises is Brett, and the first “territory” we see controlled is Robert Cohn. He falls under the sway of Brett’s sexual power, a new fief for her feudal empire” (239), and then again when he says, “Mike Campbell is an ineffectual, bankrupt alcoholic. Brett pays for her and Mike’s stay in Pamplona and repays the money Mike has borrowed from Montoya (233). Thus, beyond her sexuality, her other resources as a colonizer include some limited economic power” (239-240).
Jake Barnes suffered a wound in the war, presumably World War I, that rendered him impotent but left him with normal sexual desire. Although he is in love with Brett, she finds him unsuitable as a partner because he would be unable to fulfill her sexual needs. This virtually tears Jake apart as we are shown in this excerpt: “…this wound initially causes him considerable anguish and leads to his “pimping” for Brett…” (James 322).
A symbolic bond is formed between Jake and the steers that are used to keep the Torero-bound bulls calm when herded into the pens. He serves a similar purpose within his group of friends; he is in the center of Brett’s love circle and is burdened with the responsibility of keeping the peace within the entire. Jake’s and the steers’ calming actions are found to be similar when we read:
Jake's verbal mirroring is exactly the behavior expected of steers in the bullring as the steers work the bulls in just...

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