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Sun Also Rises Essay, Research Paper

The Life of Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway relied on experiences and the time period that he wrote the novel The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway used symbolism and irony to express his own experiences that he went through after the war, in this novel. Gertrude Stein named the generation of adults that lived during World War I, “The Lost Generation.” People thought the phrase holds true to some people who fought or were involved in the war. Hemingway quotes Stein in passages saying “The world remains and the sun continues to rise and set.” The Sun Also Rises first appeared in 1926.

Jake Barnes, Hemingway’s narrator with a mysterious war wound that has left him impotent, is the heart and soul of the book. Brett, the beautiful, English woman he adores, provides the glamour of his struggle to deal with the woman he loves and the pain of his injury, and their relationship. Lady Brett Ashley, the only woman in this novel is portrayed as an uncontrollable nymphomaniac who is breaking everyone’s hearts, especially Jake’s. Alcohol and post World War I events fuel the plot. Drinking and dancing in Paris cafes make the expatriate decide to leave for the Spanish town of Pamplona for the “wonderful nightmare” of a weeklong fiesta. Brett, with fianc? and ex-lover Cohn, breaks hearts all around until she falls, briefly, for the handsome, teenage, bullfighter, Pedro Romero. “My God! He’s a lovely boy,” she tells Jake. “And how I would love to see him get into those clothes. He must use a shoe-horn.” But what’s most shocking about the book is its lean, adjective-free style.

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, a conservative upper middle-class suburb of Chicago. Hemingway sailed to Europe in May 1918, as a volunteer ambulance driver for the Italian Red Cross during World War I. Within weeks, Hemingway suffered a serious injury from fragments of an exploding mortar shell on the Italian front. An event like this also left the character Jake Barnes impotent in the novel The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway recovered in a hospital in Milan where he had a romantic relationship with a nurse. In 1919 Hemingway returned home at the age of 19, his parents did not understand the psychological trauma he had suffered, and they pestered him to get a job or go to college. In the novel the characters were almost all alcoholics, probly because of the trauma he suffered upon returning home from the war.

He became the European correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star and moved to Paris with his wife in December 1921. Hemingway became friends with many other people belonging to a group of prominent writers and artists living in post-war Paris. These people are related to the friends that Jake Barnes has in the novel The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway began to make a name for himself as an author of fiction as well as a journalist. His novel, The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926. The Sun Also Rises contains vivid, provocative descriptions of bull fighting, a life- time passion for Hemingway.

It portrays “The Lost Generation’s” desperate search for meaning in the First World War. During Hemingway‘s growing literary success, his marriage began to fall apart and he divorced in 1927. He quickly re-married to, a fashion reporter. Hemingway’s father, Clarence Hemingway, committed suicide in 1928 after developing serious health and financial problems. In 1937, Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, based on his experiences in Spain during the war, was published in 1940, after he moved to Havana, Cuba. It became an instant success, but he did not publish another novel for ten years. Hemingway then began to suffer from deteriorating health. His heavy drinking began to catch up with him, and he began to suffer from wild mood swings. He entered the Mayo Clinic to undergo treatment for severe depression. His depression worsened in 1961, and on July 2 of that year, Hemingway woke early in the morning and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

I believe Robert Cohn is the character that Hemingway would like to be. Robert Cohn, born to a wealthy Jewish family in New York needed to minimize his difference and his shyness. He threw himself into boxing, becoming the middleweight champion at Princeton. He married very soon after his graduation on the rebound from his unhappy college experience. He and his wife had three children. Cohn lost most of his fifty thousand-dollar inheritance, and after five years, his wife left him before he could leave her. The end of the marriage came as a relief to him. He met Frances Coyne, a manipulative status seeker, while working as an editor on a literary magazine. They moved to Paris to become part of the post-war crowd of expatriates. Unlike the other characters, Cohn is a light drinker, and he believes in the romantic pre-war ideals of love. As a Jewish, non-veteran, Cohn and his shyness makes him an easy target to be picked on by his friends and his values are corrupted. Frances hopes to rise through the magazine, but she eventually realized this will not happen. She latched onto Cohn in the hopes of rising through him. She convinced him to move to Paris. When her looks began to go, she began to push Cohn to marry her. She became extremely possessive and jealous of Cohn. Cohn submits to her ironhanded rule for a few years, but the success of his novel gives him a new confident cockiness. He breaks their engagement, irritating Frances. She travels to England with the three hundred pounds she wrangled out of him, leaving Cohn free to pursue Brett. Brett did not want to be with Cohn and ended it. Cohn, unable to believe the affair meant nothing, continually pines away for her, causing a good deal of tension during the trip to Pamplona for the fiesta. Brett becomes infatuated with Pedro and persuades Jake to facilitate her affair with Pedro, provoking the jealousy of Mike and Cohn. Cohn nearly beats Pedro senseless when he discovers that Brett is having an affair with him. Brett eventually ends the affair because she fears that she will ruin Pedro and his career.

In conclusion the characters in The Sun Also Rises are a careless, aimless, and pleasure-seeking crowd. They wander through an endless, drunken procession of parties, cafes, and sexual affairs in a desperate search for meaning in their lives. It is no coincidence that many of them are artists and writers. Through the work of artistic expression, they try to produce meaning in a world seemingly to be lost to amoral consumerism and loveless ness. They are always going somewhere, but never really arriving anywhere. This provides us with an incomplete portrait of the aimless expatriate crowd living in 1920’s Europe. We must always search for what Hemingway does not say. Half of the story lies between the lines in the novel; perhaps this symbolizes the absence of meaning in the characters’ lives. Although not a single shot is fired throughout the novel, The Sun Also Rises is about World War I. We know a few scarce specific details of the characters’ war experience. However, the war relentlessly haunts the characters throughout the novel. The effects of the war are evident in their alcoholism and their casual cruelty to one another. It is evident in the way they skirt the edges of their war experiences in their conversation. It is the war and its effects they are fleeing when they descend into the forgetfulness of alcohol. They flee it continually by refusing to discuss its horrors directly. They flee it by running from one cafe, one country, and one party to the next. They are prisoners of their own attempts to escape the war that maimed them physically and psychologically. They are attempting to flee their shattered selves, but as Jake Barnes says, “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” Confrontation is the central conflict that divides every character’s consciousness. For many, this is the hardest battle of the war.


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