Introduction of The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises is written by Ernest Hemingway and was published in 1926. It was an instant hit owing to its unusual style and unique thematic strands. The novel is highly seductive due to its simplicity and directness. Since its publication, it has surprised critics about Hemingway’s skills of weaving tales in such a short span, as he visited Spain in 1925. Then penned down the novel within a year, basing his characters on real-life persons (roman à clef) he had met. The novel shows the impacts of WWI on different people, who are engaged in different activities to pass their time.
Summary of The Sun Also Rises
The story of the novel shows Jake Barnes engaged in describing his friend Robert Cohn, who now works in Paris. Jake, a war veteran, works for a newspaper to earn his living contrary to Cohn, who is a wealthy American Jewish expatriate, even though not a war veteran, lives in Paris with his obsessive and controlling girlfriend Frances Clyne.. He visits Jake quite often and stresses upon him to accompany him to South America but he refuses. One day Jake takes Cohn to a dance club where he meets his unpredictable sweetheart, Brett Ashley, with whom he has already met in England during WWI where she tends to him for the wound he has suffered during the war.
Brett, now, is a divorced twice, a socialite with numerous sexual affairs. Their complicated relationship shows love on the one side and obsession of Ashley with sex on the other side. It could be the reason that Jake is impotent due to a war injury. Cohn has had a sexual relationship with Brett in the past and she doesn’t want him anymore but he is obsessed with her. Although Jake is aware of this, forgives Cohn and continues their friendship.
One day when Jake takes Cohn with him to have lunch, he informs him about Brett shortly going to marry Mike Campbell, a Scottish soldier, which infuriates Cohn. When Brett visits them at night with a Grecian expatriate, Count Mippipopolous, Brett informs them that she is going to Spain to make it easy for both to separate from each other. When both Cohn and Brett leave Paris, another Jake’s friend, Bill Gorton, arrives and both of them plan to visit Pamplona in Spain to watch the fiesta and do fishing. When Jake is going to Pamplona, he meets Brett who is with her fiancé and both request Jake that they want to join him to see the fiesta to which he agrees.
Both meet Cohn while traveling to Bayonne on the train and from there the trio leaves for Pamplona, missing their plan of meeting Mike and Brett on the way because the couple doesn’t show up. When all of them leave for Burguete for fishing, Cohn waits for Brett, while Jake enjoys fishing and the countryside with Bill Gorton. He soon gets a message that Mike and Brett are coming to Pamplona. When they reach there, they stay in the hotel owned by Montaya, a bullfighter who has taken a liking for Jake due to his interest in bullfights.
When the fiesta begins, they see the city plunging into revelries and Pedro Romero, a nineteen-year-old, popular bullfighter showing his skills in the arena. After a few days of enjoyment, all of them dine at a local hotel where they meet Romero. At the hotel, Mike and Cohn almost start a brawl. Brett, the unpredictable lady, asks Jake to introduce her to Romero so that she could satisfy her infatuation with him. After arranging a meeting between them, Jake meets drinking Bill and Mike.
When Cohn appears, there ensues a brawl again. Antisemitic remarks were made on Cohn and Mike insults him for following Brett around even though she didn’t care for him. Cohn beats Mike and Jake who tried to stop the fight between them. After he comes to know about Brett and her infatuation with Romero, he beats up Romero too. Later, Cohn seeks an apology from both when they meet in the hotel but Jake comes to know about his rowdy behavior with Romero, too, who refuses to reconcile with him.
Later that day, Romero’s feat dazzles the spectators. When he returns from the arena, he gifts the ear of the bull to Brett after which they leave for Madrid since she was in love with him and the three friends stay there to watch the closure of the arena. After a day, they leave for their destinations; Jake goes to San Sebastion to relax and enjoy quiet time for himself but leaves for Madrid after he receives a telegram from Brett. When he meets her, he comes to know about her brawl with Romero and her intention to go to Mike again. So, he books her the tickets, and on the way, she tells Jake that they could have enjoyed it a lot if they have been together to which he replies “isn’t it pretty to think so?”
Major Themes in The Sun Also Rises
- The Lost Generation: The Sun Also Rises uses the major theme of the lost generation borrowed from Gertrude Stein’s phrase. Jake Barnes shows it through his personal dilemma that he has become the victim of WWI and cannot fulfill his emotional and physical needs. Family and friends have lost importance for him; also religion could not provide him any solace. Whether they go to fiesta or Pamplona, it is all the same for him as well as Robert Cohn, while Brett is constantly on the flight from one man to another, finding love and relationship which are hard to come by. The epigraphic beginning of the novel shows this generation as the lost generation.
- Impotent Patriarchy: Instead of portraying muscular males, the author has preferred to demonstrate impotent and fangless patriarchy in the physical traits of Jake Barnes and Robert Cohn. Jake not only embodies emasculation but also shows impotence and helplessness when it comes to showing love to others. Sexuality is deeply ingrained in love that Jake shows but does not flow. The abusive attitude of femininity toward and abuse also emerges through Cohn who has borne it patiently at the hands of Brett. When the homosexuals arrange a dance with Brett, they also issue threats to Jake, mocking his impotence. His praise for Romero, perhaps, points to his latent desire for having manly power to show heroics he cannot in this situation. However, Romero is too feminine to demonstrate the author’s heroic codes. Yet, Jake remains graceful a hero though his powerless patriarchal demonstration has rather stifled his image.
- Sexuality and Bull-fighting: Despite his being terse and concise, the author intermingles different thematic strands. He has placed parallel themes of sexuality and bullfighting in a way that whereas Brett seems sexually attractive, she also likes Romero, a great bullfighter. However, her attraction toward Romero also jeopardizes her commitment to Jake. Although Jake seems a bull eluded by Brett, yet there is a difference between bull-fighting and leading a successful and mature life.
- Aimlessness: The theme of aimlessness in life is evident from the meeting of Jake and Brett as they cannot marry. Jake’s impotence caused by war and Brett’s commitment to him bind them together but yet doesn’t fulfill their lives. They are to live with each other through escapist activities. Their escapades to Spain, their drinking and dancing activities, their commitment to hook Romero for Brett are activities having no real aim or goal. These are typical activities of this generation they are engaged in to pass their time.
- Power of Sexuality: The novel shows the theme of the power of sexuality through the character of Brett, who loves and commits herself to Jake yet she cannot stay with him forever because of his impotence. On the other hand, she also cannot marry anybody else as she has committed herself to Jake. Therefore, despite leading a liberal life of having sexual relations with others, her sexuality does not allow her to break her commitment and involve herself with somebody else.
- Destructiveness of War: The novel, though, does not show scenes from the war, it shows the impacts of the destruction of this madness on men and women alike. Jake, who has participated in the war, has lost his sexual power. That is why his feelings toward others have changed as he is unable to make love to Brett whose dissatisfaction leads almost all of them to enjoy life in trivial activities without engaging in real-life struggle.
- Love: The Sun Also Rises shows the thematic strand of love through the character of Brett and Jake. She loves Jake yet she cannot stay without sex, which leads her to leave for Spain to watch bullfighting and form relations with Romero. However, she also cannot stay with Romero or any other man due to her love for Jake.
- Nature and Regeneration: The novel uses the theme of nature and regeneration through Jake and Brett as well as their friend Bill with whom Jake goes fishing. Their visit to San Sebastion, Jake’s bathing in the war, and their drinking and fiesta enjoyment all point to their efforts to regenerate after the destructiveness of WWI.
- Dissatisfaction: The character of Lady Brett Ashely shows dissatisfaction with life. She loves Jake but she also loves intimacy whereas WWI’s battle wounds made Jake impotent. Her obsession with both renders both of them dissatisfied with each other as well as of life, the reason that they visit bars, enjoy fiesta and visit Pamplona to watch bullfighting.
Major Characters in The Sun Also Rises
- Jake Barnes: Jack Barnes is the main character and the narrator of the novel, making him the protagonist of The Sun Also Rises. He had suffered an injury in WWI which has become a cancerous note in his, otherwise, happy life. As the man of Lady Brett Ashley, he stays committed to her despite undermining his own ethical framework. However, interesting thing is that he shares interests with her as an aficionado of bullfighting and a lover of fishing. They not only enjoy life in other activities but also get involved with others such as Mike and Robert Cohn to come with them to enjoy a life of irresponsibility as well as aimlessness. Jake remains the same until the end of the novel seeing no way out from his predicament of impotence.
- Lady Brett Ashley: The character of Brett Ashley signifies the loss of value and also moral degeneration following WWI. She deeply loves Jake but also loves intimate relationships with men that she can’t get from her partner. So, she sees one thing in the other, the reason that both of her desires stay unfulfilled. Despite her engagement to Mike Campbell, she proves her strong femininity by meeting Romero in Pamplona, involving Jake to hook the guy for her. Despite connecting with all the available men, she still dominates them in the masculine sense.
- Robert Cohn: A Jewish fiction writer, Robert Cohn, hails from Princeton. He refuses meekly to compromise his values merely because he has not achieved his ideals in the world that is entirely contradictory to his pre-war American notions. Besides this, he always seems dominated by femininity; first in the shape of his wife and then Frances. So, his entire circle does not like him for his meekness in the face of mounting femininity. However, he has compensated for this humiliation with his boxing skill.
- Pedro Romero: The character of Pedro Romero is significant in the course of the novel with his success as a great bullfighter for whom the group has arrived in Pamplona to enjoy the fiesta. He hooks Brett Ashely due to his skillful handling of the bull in the arena. Jake likes Romero on account of his skills that show the Hemingway values of a code hero having the grace to stand up under pressure. He thinks that Romero has his destiny in his hands that he controls at his will.
- Mike Campbell: Mike Campbell is a significant character as the fiancé of Brett Ashely, the outgoing woman of the novel. The business concerns of his fake friends have forced him to default, the reason that he becomes addicted to alcohol and stays obsessed with Brett. His obsession comes out during his fight with Cohn for flirting with his would-be wife.
- Bill Gorton: Bill Gorton’s significance lies in that he has befriended Jake to waste his writing talent in useless activities. He finds solace in these activities, specifically, fishing, and stays with Jake to support him.
- Count Mippipopolous: Brett’s friend, the count meets the group in Paris. He is also a war veteran who shows his scars to others to boast about his exploits. As a rich person, he is engaged in throwing his wealth around.
- Belmonte: A former bull-fighter, Belmonte announces to enter the arena after his retirement but could not defeat Romero, who proves to be a better bull-fighter than him. He has been declared a shell of his past self and representative of the old values facing corruption.
- Montoya: Although Montaya is running a hotel where the group stays, he is known for his relationship with Jake. When Jake comes to introduce his group to Romero, he shows up as if he is providing him protection and security.
Writing Style of The Sun Also Rises
As the characters of The Sun Also Rises are based on people in the real life of Ernest Hemingway, the language used for this style is terse and direct. The use of description for characters is not only restrained but highly precise which shows the “iceberg theory” of Hemingway used in fiction writing. It also shows his journalistic training as sentences are short, pithy, and to the point. The diction is formal as well as informal according to the situation and context, while the dialogs are mostly appropriate for an occasion. However, the seduction of the fiction lies in the simple language the characters use to wield meanings in many ways.
Analysis of Literary Devices in The Sun Also Rises
- Action: The main action of the novel comprises Jake’s life, his love, and his resignation to fate after he feels unable to make love with his girlfriend, Brett. The rising action occurs when the readers see Jake, his friends and Brett Ashely pursuing dissipated life in the city of Paris and the falling action occurs when Brett leaves Jake and Cohn for Romero.
- Antagonist: The Sun Also Rises shows Robert Cohn as an amazing antagonist who creates obstacles for others, and yet he is not a character to be disliked, as he is a nice person.
- Allusion: There are various examples of allusions given in the novel; a few are mentioned below.
i. Then there was another thing. He had been reading W. H. Hudson. That sounds like an innocent occupation, but Cohn had read and reread “The Purple Land.” “The Purple Land” is a very sinister book if read too late in life. (Chapter-2)
ii. Settled back in the slow, smoothly rolling fiacre we moved up the Avenue de l’Opera, passed the locked doors of the shops, their windows lighted, the Avenue broad and shiny and almost deserted. The cab passed the New York Herald. (Chapter-3)
iii. That’s better. Very funny,” Brett said. “Then he wanted me to go to Cannes with him. Told him I knew too many people in Cannes. Monte Carlo. (Chapter-4)
iv. They were playing the riau-riau music, the pipes shrill and the drums pounding, and behind them came the men and boys dancing. (Chapter-15)
The first example shows a reference to a book and an author. The second example shows geographical allusions, while the third and the fourth show allusions to geography and music respectively.
- Conflict: The are two types of conflicts in the novel. The first one is the external conflict that is going on between Jake and Lady Brett Ashley and the second conflict is the mental conflict that is going on in the mind of Jake about his love and his incapacitation to make love.
- Characters: The Sun Also Rises presents both static as well as dynamic characters. The young man, Robert Cohn, is a dynamic character as she goes through a transformation during his appearance in the novel. However, the rest of the characters do not see any change in their behavior and they are static characters such as Jake, Brett, and Romero, and even Bill Gorton.
- Climax: The climax in The Sun Also Rises takes place when Cohn thrashes Mike as well as Jake and then Romero for exploiting his fiancée, Lady Brett Ashley.
- Foreshadowing: The novel shows the following examples of foreshadowing,
i. Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn. He cared nothing for boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton. (Chapter-1)
ii. In the morning it was raining. A fog had come over the mountains from the sea. You could not see the tops of the mountains. The plateau was dull and gloomy, and the shapes of the trees and the houses were changed. (Chapter-16)
These excerpts from The Sun Also Rises foreshadow the coming events such as the first one shows that segregation of Cohn and the second shows the changing weather pattern showing the changing human attitudes.
- Hyperbole: Hyperbole or exaggeration occurs in the novel at various places. A few examples are given below,
i. “It’s enough to make a man join the Klan,” Bill said. The priest looked back at him (Chapter-9)
ii. “Friends,” said Mike. “I had a lot of friends. False friends. Then I had creditors, too. Probably had more creditors than anybody in England. (Chapter-14).
The above sentences exaggerate things as there is no force to make a person join a group, nor the creditors are in such a number in England, and that too only for Mike.
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example,
i. It was a warm spring night and I sat at a table on the terrace of the Napolitain after Robert had gone, watching it get dark and the electric signs come on, and the red and green stop-and-go traffic-signal, and the crowd going by, and the horse-cabs clippety-clopping along at the edge of the solid taxi traffic, and the poules going by, singly and in pairs, looking for the evening meal. (Chapter-3)
ii. We walked on and circled the island. The river was dark and a bateau mouche went by, all bright with lights, going fast and quiet up and out of sight under the bridge. Down the river was Notre Dame squatting against the night sky. We crossed to the left bank of the Seine by the wooden foot-bridge from the Quai de Bethune, and stopped on the bridge and looked down the river at Notre Dame. (Chapter-8)
These examples from the novel show a variety of images; such as the images of color, sound, and sight.
- Metaphor: The Sun Also Rises shows good use of various metaphors such as the sun, the war, the wounds of Jake, and the writing of Robert Cohn.
- Mood: The novel shows a very happy mood in the beginning but then turns to depression and tension as it moves forward. It, however, ends on an exasperatingly optimistic note.
- Motif: Most important motifs of the novel are rituals, religion, wine, and masculinity.
- Narrator: The novel is narrated by Jack Barnes but in a third-person point of view.
- Parataxis: The novel shows the use of parataxis as given in the example below,
i. The steer was down now, his neck stretched out, his head twisted, he lay the way he had fallen. Suddenly the bull left off and made for the other steer which had been standing at the far end, his head swinging, watching it all. The steer ran awkwardly and the bull caught him, hooked him lightly in the flank, and then turned away and looked up at the crowd on the walls, his crest of muscle rising. The steer came up to him and made as though to nose at him and the bull hooked perfunctorily.
The above passage from the novel shows clauses and phrases occurring without the use of conjunctions.
- Personification: The novel shows examples of personifications as given in the below examples,
i. “It’s an honest face. It’s a face any woman would be safe with.” (Chapter-10)
ii. A stream went through the centre of the town and fields of grapes touched the houses. (Chapter-11)
iii. Caffeine puts a man on her horse and a woman in his grave. (Chapter-12).
These examples show as if the face, stream, and caffeine have life and emotions.
- Protagonist: Jake Barnes is the protagonist of the novel. The novel starts with his entry and moves with him until the end.
- Setting: The setting of the novel in France, America, and Spain.
- Simile: The novel shows good use of various similes as given in the below examples,
i. Spider Kelly taught all his young gentlemen to box like featherweights, no matter whether they weighed one hundred and five or two hundred and five pounds. (Chapter-1)
ii. It is very important to discover graceful exits like that in the newspaper business, where it is such an important part of the ethics that you should never seem to be working. (Chapter-2)
iii. Well,” I said. “A plane is sort of like a tricycle. The joystick works the same way.” (Chapter-12)
These are similes as the use of the word “like” shows the comparison between different things such as the boxers with featherweights, the exits with that of the newspaper business openings, and a plane with a tricycle.