The Sun Also Rises Theme

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Theme: In the 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, author Ernest Hemingway gives us an up close look at ‘The Lost Generation’ era. Hemingway demonstrates the detrimental aspects of war through the constant conflicting subjects of love, masculinity and alcoholism. Throughout the book, love is something that seems impossible after the traumatizing world war. Narrator and protagonist of the novel, Jake Barnes, was injured in the war and reveals that he has suffered brain damage and can no longer perform sexually. This struggle becomes more prominent as he and Lady Brett Ashley fall in love. When reunited after their years of an on and off relationship, Jake and Brett confess that they still have love for each other. Conversing more about their love,…show more content…
Masculinity is something that many of the men are insecure about. Jake is disturbed by the homosexual friends that Brett walks into the the dance club with, “I was very angry. Somehow they always made me angry. I know they are supposed to be amusing, and you should be tolerant, but I wanted to swing on one, any one, anything to shatter that superior, simpering composure” (28). His portrayal of their effeminate qualities reveals his own insecurities of his masculinity. Jake is jealous of the homosexual men because they are able to sexually perform when he is not. He has physically been emasculated due to genital injuries from the war. Hemingway brings attention to the insecurities of the male characters by having them fight over Brett. Jake’s jealousy of Cohn’s relationship with Brett is very prominent as he even states, “I was blind, unforgivingly jealous of what had happened to him. The fact that I took it as a matter of course did not alter that any. I certainly did hate him. I do not think I ever really hated him until he had that little spell of superiority at lunch” (105). Jake is expressing his hate for his former best friend, Robert Cohn because Cohn supposedly had intimate relations with Brett. The competition for Brett between Jake and his group of friends has thus begun, exposing the effects of man’s cruelty. The men of this era were damaged and sense of selves were disfigured by the inhumanity of war. To…show more content…
Alcohol is the secondary factor to all of the character’s problems, but it also seems to bring a bit of relief to stressful situations. Ultimately though, alcohol plays a part in the alleviation of the miserable characters. Jake especially is manages his suffering by drinking, “Under the wine I lost that disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people” (150). Jake uses alcohol to disappear his problems and feelings. He explains in this scene that alcohol clouds his mind of reality. Alcohol acts as an escapism for the characters. Hemingway’s association between war and alcoholism is crucial to the story. Alcohol can also act as a tool for destruction as presented by Jake when Brett first comes back into his life after a long time of traveling. He admits, “I was a little drunk. Not drunk in any positive sense but just enough to be careless” (29). Jake’s description of his own drunkard self reveals that he is aware of his alcohol fixation. He knows that it can make him reckless and sometimes even destructive but his broken ego and low self-esteem make it easy for him to pick up a glass. Alcohol drowns Jake’s thoughts of his inability to be with his true love, Brett. Without his friends in constant argument over Brett, Jake sits down to have a drink by himself, “I drank a bottle of wine for company. It was Chåteau Margaux. It was pleasant to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be
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