Escaping the Wasteland
The fishing trip within Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises provides a pilgrimage of rejuvenation to the novel's participating characters, Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton. Escaping the wasteland that is Paris, the two men "shove off," (Hemingway, VIII), to Burguete, Spain, where they fish for trout on the Irati River. The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Jake was left impotent from an injury incurred while serving with the Italian Front in World War 1. His inability to consummate his love for the insatiable Brett Ashley, and the sterile social backdrop of Paris provide a striking similarity to the Arthurian Fisher King motif of a man generatively impaired, and his kingdom thusly sterile. Bill Gorton, an…show more content… Left disenchanted by dashed Victorian notions of glory and valor in combat, the survivors of the war were casting aside the preconceived ideals of their elders in search of a more liberal and open way of life.
Doing away with the cold formality of the city, Jake and Bill are able to openly express their thoughts and feelings with each other without fear of conformity or social repercussion. They are free to explore new modes of thinking and reflection that allow for closure with their war torn pasts.
Within the lull of the Spanish countryside, Jake is able to wrest with his inner demons, and come to peace with them. Through fishing, he is able to regain pleasure in the natural simplicity of life. The anguish and dejection of his life in Paris is forgotten in the excellence of sportsmanship.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. Scribner : New York.