Hemmingway-The Sun Also Rises


In the novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway describes 
a couple who share a very strange and distant kind of love 
for each other. This story takes place immediately after 
World War I, a time of great hardship. This hardship results 
in a digression of values both morally and socially. The 
love that Brett and Jake share is symbolic of the general 
decline in values in that they tolerate behaviors in one 
another that would have been previously considered 
 It is clear that Lady Brett Ashley is anything but a 
lady. She is kind and sweet but extremely vulnerable to the 
charm that various men in her life seem to smother her with. 
 Brett is not happy with her life or her surroundings and 
seeks escape and refuge in the arms of these men. But her 
actions seem always to end up hurting her, and she runs back 
to Jake. Jake knows that he will never be able to have her 
for his own, and he accepts this as fact. This is clear when 
the Count asks them ³why don¹t you get married, you two? 
(68)² To this question, they give a lame half hearted 
awnser which implies that it will never happen. He is 
tolerant of her behavior because he loves her 
unconditionally and is willing to overlook everything she 
does. Jake¹s willingness to endure and forgive Brett¹s 
promiscuity and infidelity is an indication of the skewed 
values of the age. It was an ³anything goes² era right after 
the first war, and Jake¹s message to Brett seems to be the 
same: anything goes as long as you eventually come back to 
 Jake is forced to accept living in this seemingly 
terrible way for more than one reason. He a weak person 
socially, but he is also physically disabled because of an 
injury that he suffered during the war. He suffered an 
injury that caused him to be castrated. The first 
hint of this is when he says to Georgeette ³I was hurt in 
the war (24) in refrence to why they can not have physical 
realtions. This injury is one that makes him insecure, but 
worse than that, it allows Brett to have almost complete 
control over him. Jake and Brett need each other 
emotionally, but Brett feels that she needs more. As a 
result Jake is force to give her up. 
 Jake¹s feelings toward his friend Robert Cohn are a 
combination jealousy, compassion, understanding, and hate. 
These are a very unusual group of feelings for a person to 
have toward one person, but it was a very unusual time. Jake 
knew of Robert¹s relationship with Brett, and it ate him up 
with envy, but at the same time he knew how it had ended. He 
had been close friends with Robert, and had been through a 
similar situation with Brett, so he had both compassion and 
understanding for Robert¹s position. The only problem was 
the way Robert choose to deal with his feelings. Robert also 
could not stand to see Brett with another man, but he 
displayed this much differently. Robert¹s presense bothered 
Jake even though they had been close friends. Robert backs 
out of a fishing trip to find Brett, and Jake¹s friend makes 
a comment about that being a good thing. Jake¹s only 
reply is ³You¹re damn right(108)². Robert makes a fool out 
of himself. He even beats up Jake at one point. Behavior 
like his was impossible for Jake to respect and he hated 
this part of Robert. None of this would have even been a 
problem if life during that time had been a little more 
solid in a moral sense. Brett would have not been permitted 
to act the way she did, while mantaining her social status, 
which clearly meant a great deal to her. She would have had 
to choose, and most likely her choice would have been that 
of a more chaste lifestyle.
 In this story, there is a very different way of life 
from what people know today. The relationship that Jake and 
Brett share is one that would seem completely unrealistic in 
today¹s time, but to them, it was acceptable. Jake no doubt 
would have preferred to have it differently, but he is 
accepting of the way it stands. The hardship and the poverty 
that is so widely spread in that area during the post war 
time causes the people to lower their moral standards. Jake 
and Brett¹s love is the perfect example.

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