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The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises

patregan7, May 15, 2011

The Sun Also Rises is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway. This novel is considered one of Hemingway’s best works and many argue that it is his best overall book. The Sun Also Rises is a magnificent book that illustrates the stresses and challenges that face ordinary citizens in a post war society. The book is written in first person point of view. The story is told from the protagonist Jake Barnes, a World War 1 veteran who lives in Paris. He befriends Robert Cohn, a Jewish American who has a dream to become a famous writer. Both of these men struggle to find an identity that they can be satisfied with. They struggle with relationships and the fear of living an unfulfilled life. Hemingway does a great job of emphasizing the struggle that war veterans faced by establishing a setting that exposes the main characters to a life of drinking and partying. Ultimately, this book reached it’s goal of creating some sympathy for the lost generation that was forgotten after World War 1. This review will include background information on the book that will be very general statements about the book. Also, there will be a summary of the main ideas of the book and an evaluation of the overall effectiveness of the novel.

The Sun Also Rises takes place in Paris, France. World War 1 is now over and there has been a struggle for citizens to adjust to post war life. Robert Cohn moved from the United States to Paris to pursue his writing career. He has a love interest with Frances Clyne, who is very controlling and self-conscious about her looks. Jake Barnes is a veteran of the war, and he is a journalist working in Paris. He falls for Lady Brett Ashley, who causes a lot of stress for both Jake and Robert as she is a character that exemplifies the stresses of post war life through her indecisiveness and lack of commitment.

Two major themes in this novel are the power of relationships and the struggle to find an identity in a post-war society. In the beginning of the novel, the reader is immediately introduced to Robert Cohn’s desire to find out where his life is going. He says to Jake, “Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”(19). Robert’s display of emotion in front of Jake illustrates the idea that people feared they were going to live in the shadows of a recent war. Robert constantly asks Jake to go to South America with him, even though Jake keeps refusing. Robert wants to have a defining moment in his life that will give him some satisfaction. Jake on the other hand has an interesting take on life and the expectations of living it to the fullest. He says, “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters”(18). Hemingway foreshadows Robert and Jake’s trip to Pamplona later in the novel through this quote, but he also gives the reader a solid understanding of Jake’s attitude toward people. He is very pessimistic about life and the decisions people make in their life. Jake is very reserved and he just goes about his life drinking and doing his job. The opposite nature of Robert and Jake seem to pull the best out of each other and help the reader gauge their struggle to find an identity.

The relationships between Robert and Frances, and Brett and Jake illustrate the trauma that war can cause. Frances Clyne is Robert’s first love interest but she has total control over the relationship and will not let Robert have any freedom. She takes out her aging on Robert as well. Her stress reaches the point where she erupts on Robert one day right in front of Jake. “You know Robert is going to get material for a new book. Aren’t you, Robert? That’s why he’s leaving me. He’s decided I don’t film well”(57). Frances knows that Robert is going to leaver her and she goes on a long rampage about how it is her fault. This passage illustrates the emotional stress that results in fighting. Jake and Brett have a relationship that is on and off because Brett is so indecisive. Ultimately, Brett decides to stay with her fiancée Mike, but the reader knows she desires Jake. She says, “Oh, Jake, we could have had such a damned good time together”(251). Jake responds, “Yes. Isn’t it pretty to think so?”(251). The only real emotion that Jake shows in the novel is his desire to be with Brett. He is crushed when he realizes he can not be with her.

Ernest Hemingway does a masterful job at commenting on the issues that faced a society that was overshadowed by a war. The book can be a slow read at some points, however Hemingway does that to develop a flow that reflected the lives of Jake, Robert, and Brett. They simply lived their lives drinking and partying and always wondering if they would have a moment that could be a defining moment in their lives. Their trip to Pamplona was a disaster in that Robert ends up attacking Jake after breaking down. Their one chance to have that defining moment was taken away by an emotional outburst. The bullfights they witnessed in Pamplona were very symbolic of the rage and anger that went into the fight between Jake and Robert.

The Sun Also Rises is a novel that can be enjoyed by almost any reader that has an interest in the emotional toll that war can cause and the way it affects the behavior of a society. Hemingway’s literary uniqueness make this novel a thrilling read that leaves the reader wanting to know how each character will end up on their journey to create meaning in their lives.
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