Ernest Hemingway


In this paper, I will describe what critics have to say about Ernest
Hemingway^s novel The Sun Also Rises and his short story A clean
well-Light Place. First I will describe the basic plot of the story,
then go one to describe each of the characters by what the critics have
to say about them. I will start off with the main character and
narrator Jake Barnes. Then go to Lady Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn, Pedro
Romero, and finally I will fish off that section with a little about
Bill Gordon. Then I will describe a little of how Ernest Hemingway^s
characters fit into what critics have to say about the story. After
that, I will then go into describing how the four American Themes were
used in the novel. After that, I will evaluate the criticism of the
book using one or two quotes from the book. >From there, I go into my
next literary work. I describe the basic plot of A Clean Well-Light
place. Then I describe the themes of the story. I then go on to
describing the criticism, or at least what I could find on the short
story. I continue with my evaluation of the criticism of the book.
Also using one or two quotes. I conclude my paper by giving my
evaluation of each of the works, and evaluating the author^s style,
content, and themes. In The Sun Also Rises, meet Jake Barnes, the main
character and narrator of the novel. He and his friend Robert Cohn
meet a lady named Lady Brett. Here is the story of their adventure.

In The Sun Also Rises, a group of young Americans move to Paris after
World War I. Jake Barnes, a newspaperman who is in love with Lady
Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn, a Jewish former Princeton student who was
outcast, Lady Brett Ashley, an older Englishwoman who also love Jake
Barnes, but can^t consummate their love because he was wounded in his
genitals. As they travel through Paris drinking and sitting at cafes,
they met up with Brett^s fianc Mike Campbell and his friend Bill
Gorton. Jake plans a trip to Pamplona, Spain for a festival full of
bullfighting and the running of the bulls. Before everyone got to
Spain, Mike, Brett and Robert already being there, Mike and Brett
decided to take a side trip to San Sebastian. Robert followed them
like a lovesick puppy. While in Spain they met up with a bullfighter
named Pedro Romero, who Brett falls madly in love with. After the
festival is over, Brett leaves with Pedro and goes to Madrid, Mikes
goes to a town on the French borde! r, Bill goes back to Paris, and
Jake leaves for San Sebastian to relax. When Jack arrives, he finds
out that Pedro wants to marry Brett, but she turned him down. She
tells Jake about how happy they might have been together. The conflict
of this novel is that one loves another and that person loves someone
different. No one can truly get what he or she wants. Jake tells this
story in first person. Psychology of the individual was definitely
present in this novel. You could always tell what Jake was thinking.
American Dream is also present because everyone wanted to have the
perfect life. ^The difficulties of interpreting The Sun Also Rises in
a clear and relatively certain manner stem in the main from two
factors: the use of a particularly opaque first-person narrator; and
the fact of Jake^s wound which has rendered him impotent, while leaving
him normally responsive to sexual desire. The first factor results in
the bewilderment a reader will have in trying to locate the norms of
^truth^ in the novel; that is, since the entire novel related directly
by Jake Barnes, the reader can never be sure how reliable Jake^s
observations and judgments are.^ (Monarch Notes)

In the novel, Jake goes from being at a stage of anguish and at times,
a state of self-pity at the beginning to accepting himself as he is at
the end. He also discovered the appreciation of nature, companionship,
and bravery. Jake emerges as the Hemingway Hero, a cynical realistic
individual who will hide his feelings in himself and who will await the
inevitable reckoning which life presents itself, of the novel.
(Monarch Notes) In book one, we start to see the outlines of the
Hemingway Hero in Jake. He is capable of showing sorrowful, deep
emotions. He is also tender, compassionate and thoughtful. You see
this in Jake when Brett and Jake have their initial meeting together.
Until meeting Brett, Jake was more interested in Robert Cohn. Readers
may think that Cohn is Jake^s best friend because in the first
chapters, most of the information is about Cohn. As the story
continues, the narrator unmasks Cohn. We discover Cohn not being the
pleasant companion, but the ant! i-hero to Jake. Jake becomes more
aware of Cohn^s boy-man personality in Chapter IV when two lovers
argue. So in the end of Book one, Jake goes from being a friend to
being suspicious and increasingly belligerent acquaintance of his
fellow American. Early on readers usually make the conclusion that
something is wrong with Jake. It is implied that that he can not have
sex. When Spain comes into to play with the story, Jake changes in a
very distinct way. He loves Paris, but he loves Spain in a very
different way. His French capital provides him with a refuge from the
States, the chance to live individually and freely. Jake feels an
intimate contact with the nature and existence when he^s in Spain.
(Monarch Notes) ^Because of her four lovers and the attendant fact that
the plot, such as it is, revolves about the ensuing complications,
Brett stands out as the most fascinating protagonist of the total group
of actors in the novel.^ (Monarch Notes) Without a doubt, Brett is
very colorful and adds an exotic approach to his characters. Although
Brett appears rather late in the novel, she begins to dominate the
action in Book one. Just like Jake and Robert, Brett wears a mask.
They also identify Brett as an extreme example of the ^lost
generation^. (Monarch Notes) Robert Cohn is labeled one of the most
bitter verbal depictions of a character in the novel. He is the exact
opposite of the Hemingway Hero. Hemingway probably described Cohn as a
Jew, not for any overt demonstration of anti-Semitism but to explain
part of the young man^s problem. Some critics have read into this
character a Hemingway attack on the defects of the American character.
If this is true, and there seems to be more than a modicum of accuracy
in the criticism, then the unfavorable attributes of American youth
are: a basic immaturity, reliance upon physical strength, a thin veneer
of romanticism, the lack of appreciation for the simple virtues of
companionship, good food and drink, and the inability to adjust to the
demands of an older civilization. (Monarch Notes)

Robert Cohn is an example of the boy-man, the adolescent playing the
role of a mature individual. Without Cohn^s presence in the novel, the
positive morality would not have been so fully illustrated; one arrives
at a clearer understanding of Jake Barnes and Pedro Romero^s dedication
to life and death. Cohn is basically bewildered by the world of his
contemporaries and he does not understand the members of his own
generation. He doesn^t belong to the group he associates with.
Hemingway is implying that Cohn does not belong in Europe. In Book
two, Cohn is more sentimental and requires more recognition and
appreciation. Cohn is also bored at the festival in Spain and is
critical and cynical the whole time. (Monarch Notes) Pedro Romero is
the young Spanish matador who enters the story late, and is not
involved in much of the action in general. In a lot of ways, Pedro is
an idealization of the Spaniard: concise pride, honor, and bravery.
^Romero is untamed and uncorrupted by the decadence of the modern world
so that he is fundamentally a symbol and a stereotype rather than a
living complex to fathom.^ (Monarch Notes) Some say that Romero is the
answer to the rush of American civilians and youth in the rise of the
death in Europe after World War I. Bill Gordon, is probably one of the
most successful characters. He also belongs to the ^lost generation in
spirit and sympathy, but learned how to work hard, and he adjusted well
to the 1920s. ^For many people in America, the years immediately
following World War I and World War II were characterized by anger,
discontent and disillusionment.^ (Kwan, The Sun Also^) This simple
quote describes the main characters in this book. Jake is angry
because of his wound, and that he can^t consummate his love with
Brett. Cohn is angry and discontent because he, same as Jake, can not
consummate his love with Brett, but for different reasons. Cohn is the
Hemingway anti-hero so he is very critical of everything and is not
open for change. Brett is the disillusioned one. After losing the
love of her life, she just gone from man to man, disillusioned that
she^ll find someone to make her whole, but she never does. The major
themes of American literature in this work are psychology of the
individual, American Dream, Individual in Society and Nature and the
Land. Psychology of the individual is shown through Jake Barnes. He
tells the story through first person and you always know how he^s
feeling, and how he feels about the other characters. Although his
feeling about the other character may be different from what the
characters are really like, but that still shows what he is thinking.
The war also plays a role in the Psychology. The war has implict the
character^s approach to daily life. American Dream is in this novel,
but it^s killed. Post-World War I attitudes of the characters
disapprove of the war and the US getting into the war, so they^ve moved
to France. The war has left them with a cynical view of the United
States, and therefore isn^t as much American Dream as it is achieving
their personal dreams. Individual in society is shown through each of
the characters and how! they react to their surroundings and
situations that occur. Brett being the very man-friendly woman that
she is, has been known to have many relationships that mean nothing to
her, and don^t last her very long. Robert Cohn shows his views when he
follows Mike Campbell and Brett around Sebastian the whole time like a
lovesick puppy. Also when he is very critical of everything at the
festival in Spain. Jake shows it through being the Hemingway Hero, how
he over comes tragedy, first with Lady Brett, then finally with the
acceptance his wound, and his impotency. And finally the Nature and
the Land, you have the background of the land, the rivers, the
mountains and the plains. But unlike some of his other novels, this
nature shows the aftermath of wrath and destruction after World War I,
not during it. ^At five o^clock I was in the Hotel Crillion waiting
for Brett. She was not there, so I sat down and wrote letters. They
were not very good letters but I hoped their being on Crillion
stationery would help them. Brett did not turn up so about quarter to
six I went down to the bar^^ (Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, 41) This
quote show the emerging of the Hemingway Hero. He^s beginning to get
over his bitterness and starting to feel those deep sorrowful emotions
that the stereotypical hero does. ^We often talked about bulls and
bull-fighters. I had stopped at the Montoya for several years. We
never talked for very long at a time. It was simply the pleasure of
discovering what we each felt.^ (Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, 132)
This passage also agrees with the critics when they said that Paris has
a special place in Jake^s heart, but Spain meant something totally
different to him. He loves Spain in a different way. He loved to
learn about Spain and talk to people abo! ut the culture. In Paris,
he liked to drink and sit at cafes. In A Clean Well-Lighted Place, two
waiters are sitting at their caf talking and waiting to close up.
While they are waiting they are discussing the old man sitting out on
the terrace, and why he would have wanted to commit suicide. As old
deaf man is sitting out on the terrace drinking brandies, he flashes to
the waiters for another. When the young waiter goes over to the table
to tell him he^s had enough and must go home because the waiter wants
to close up and go home himself to his wife waiting in bed for him.
When the waiters close up the caf, the young waiter goes home, and the
old waiter goes to find another caf/bar that^s open. He goes to
another bar, and he discusses the nadas with another bartender. There
isn^t much American Dream, Individual in society, or Nature and the
land. The only theme in this short story is Psychology of the
Individual. This comes at the end of the story when they discuss the
nadas. The nadas, pertaining to nothing, and nothingness, these people
discuss their fear of nothing, the clean well-lighted caf that the
waiter works in is like a refuge for those that have no where to go,
and need some, not nothing. The Hemingway hero doesn^t make its
appearance quite as obvious as it did in the novel. The older waiter
would be the stereotypical hero in this short story because of wanted
to help people escape from nada, just like he wants to. He^s trying to
help others as he helps himself. This portrays the deep and sorrowful
emotions by having a place for the lonely people to go to. (Literary
Companion, 37, 38) ^Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name, thy
Kingdom nada, thy will be nada, in nada as it is in nada. Give us this
nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada
us not into nada but deliver us from nada y pues nada^ (Hemingway, A
Clean Well-Lighted Place, 383) This passage states that if you believe
in nothing, you are nothing, and in a way you have noting to live for.
You just wander around. In the story the darkness is the nothing and
the nothing is death. The clean well-light place was a place where
people could go to escape the nothing, to believe in something, and be
something. (Chelsea House, 1843) AS the two waiters sit in the bar
they discuss why the man might have wanted to commit suicide. The
young waiter can not understand the one man^s despair. He doesn^t
understand how he can have all that money, and yet want to kill
himself. (Mangum, Short Fiction, 1626)

The Sun Also Rises is a very good piece of literature. It has a very
intreqit, well developed, easy to follow plot, and a very good
portrayal of the four American themes. Ernest Hemingway also has very
developed, constant characters. Jake did change in the novel, but that
was a physical, believable change. Their attitudes are also very
developed and intriqit with their surrounds after the war. The Clean
Well-Lighted Place is also a very good piece of literature. Although
in this short story, Hemingway sows his pessimistic side. He discusses
even the riches people may be happy, but if they don^t believe in
something then they are nothing, and the poorest people who believe in
something are the happiest. The darkness in this story is death and
death is nothing, the light is life, and happiness. The old deaf man
was happy sitting in the caf drinking his brandies in the well-lighted
caf. The older waiter wasn^t very happy sitting the dark bar talking
to the bartender and drinking. Their conversation describes the
nothing that is surrounding them. They are all scared of the nothing,
which is death, but the old man. He was the one with the courage to
stand up and be he. He believed in himself, and believing in something
is having something to believe in, not believing in nothing. Therefore
the old deaf man was the happiest out of all the characters. Even
the! young waiter who had his wife waiting for him at home. Being a
woman, I don^t necessarily agree with Hemingway^s style of disgracing
the woman, and making all the men seem macho. But then again, if I
were a guy, I^m sure I would be agreeing with his style of writing.
Among the sexist characteristics that Hemingway has he is a very
talented writer, and has written some very meaningful novels, that
involves themes that still stand true today. His content is varies
from book to book. The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms are
during and post war activities. A Clean Well-Lighted Place having to
do with death, and nothingness. By doing this Hemingway doesn^t get
boring by writing about the same topic every time he writes. Hemingway
writes about all four themes. In The Sun Also Rises, all four themes
come into play with the characters. A Clean Well-Lighted Place mostly
has the psychology of the individual because of what the story pertains


Bloom, Harold. The Chelsea House Library of Literary Criticism. Edition #. Volume 3, E-H. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. 1989. Pg. 1814-1845.
----- Modern Critical Views: Ernest Hemingway. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. 1985.
Breit, Harvey. ^ÓThe Sun Also Rises In Stockholm.^Ô New York Times. 7 Nov. 1954.
^ÓCritics, The.^Ô Barron^Òs Booknotes. Online. Internet. 10 Mar. 1999.
Hart, James D., The Oxford Companion to American Literature. Publication city: publisher, copyright date. Pg. 327-328
^ÓHemingway, Ernest.^Ô Discovering Authors. Version. CD-ROM. Publication city: publishers. 1993.
^ÓHemingway, Ernest.^Ô Monarch Notes. Version. CD-ROM. Publication city: publisher, copyright date.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Quality Paperback book Club. 1926.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Charles Scribner^Òs Sons. 1938.
^ÓHemingway^Òs Style.^Ô Online. Internet. 23 Mar. 1999.
Kotas, Nathan. ^ÓThe Sun Also Rises.^Ô Online. Internet. 23 Mar. 1999.
Kwan, Albert. ^ÓThe Sun Also Rises & On the Road.^Ô Online. Internet. 23 Mar. 1999.
Magill, Frank. ^ÓThe Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.^Ô American Literature Realism to 1945. Pacedenia: Salem Softback. 1980. Pg. 402-404, 416-419.
Mangum, Bryant. ^ÓErnest Hemingway.^Ô Critical Survey of Short Fiction. Volume 4, Dan-Hof. Englewood Cliffs: Salem Press. 1981. Pg. 1622-1628.
----- ^ÓErnest Hemingway.^Ô Critical Survey of Long Fiction. Volume 4, Har-Low. Englewood Cliffs: Salem Press. 1981. Pg. 1338-1349.
Readings on Ernest Hemingway. San Diego: Greenhaven Press. 1997.
^ÓSun Also Rises, The.^Ô!gagne/pol/sardg.html. Online. Internet. 23 Mar. 1999.

Quotes: Search by Author