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 unacceptable.
 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 this 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 
 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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