Hand Notes - The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Mofizur Rahman

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway - Hand Notes For English Department (National University)

Hand Notes - The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway


  • Honours 4th Year.
  • Department of English.
  • American Literature Fiction and Drama
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
  • Special Hand Notes For Good Result.
  • Part - C

To what extent is The Sun Also Rises a fictional chronicle of a "lost generation"?

Ans. Basically, the phrase describes the generation that came to maturity during World War I and describes the cumulative effect of the new kind of warfare on that generation. The technology involved in modern warfare also created carnage on a scale that had never been seen before. The sheer amount of death and destruction from WWI  led people to question the meaning of life.

The phrase "the Lost Generation" was popularized by Ernest Hemingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises, as an epigraph attributed to Gertrude Stein. The protagonist in the novel, Jake Barnes, has fought in WWI and carries a particularly disabling and symbolic wound: he has been castrated by shrapnel. The male member is understood as a well-established symbol for manhood and virility but ironically Jake has been 'unmanned' by the war.

Now he feels lost,' unable to live life fully after the damage he has sustained. His situation has been read as symbolic of the boredom of the entire generation traumatized by the First World War. Like many famous authors of this period, including Hemingway himself, Jake has left America in order to find a better way of life in another country.

His obsession with the Spanish bull fights is so much that even native Spaniards acknowledge that he is an aficionado and this is one example of Jake's trying to involve  himself in a greater interest. Similarly, he and  his friends try to submerge themselves in rural Spanish past times, like fishing in the country, in an attempt, perhaps, to get in "touch with the soil, " as Bill says.

The novel is Hemingway's answer to the malaise of the "lost generation"; a message of a more vital way of life that might be salvation for an alienated generation. The group which Hemingway portrays is a mix of some working writers who did not inherit wealth, like Hemingway himself and his friend Bill.

Some aristocrats or other characters of wealthy families like Robert Cohn who is a portrait of Harold Loeb, from the wealthy Guggenheim family clustered around an older generation including Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound and Shakespeare & Co. book store in Paris, mainly on the Rive Gauche near the Quartier Latin.

Although Hemingway, in this novel, tries to take himself very seriously, in many ways this is just a story of young people having fun, exploring their own identities, going through all those intense melodramatic relationships one has at a certain age, etc. before they settle down to real jobs and marriages.

The lost generation's experiences have caused them to reject the moral codes and values that gave life structure before, and so now they are left to pursue their lives in an aimless fashion without any specific goals or objectives, and without any governing creeds or values to guide them. A very interesting section of this novel occurs when they watch the bullfighting and reject the possibility of being a hero or of living life to the full.

Would you agree with the observation that The Sun Also Rises is Hemingway's version of the moral waste land Europe has become after the First World War?

Discuss the impact of World War I in the lives of character of ‟The Sun Also Rises„

Ans. Any work of literature has a number of themes and this novel is no exception. Both T.S. Eliot and Hemingway were deeply unstable  by the events of the war, and the way that Europe was completely ruined, destroyed, physically and emotionally after the war. Hemingway himself served on the Eastern Front in some of the ugliest and in many ways arguably the most pointless fighting of the war (in a war filled with it). One clear theme is the way the novel explores morality and the various moral codes that the characters in this novel ascribe to.

Let us consider Jake for a moment, who describes "morality" as "things that made you disgusted afterward." He quickly corrects himself, saying that this must be the definition of "immorality." Throughout the novel it is clear that Jake is more interested in his own problems and issues, and then, only secondly, those of Brett.

Now, if we compare Jake's moral code to that of Cohn, there is a stark difference, as Cohn shows himself unable to understand the morality of Brett and also unable to follow it. We have to note how Brett and Romero are got together, deliberately/knowingly going against the morality of the group. This leads to a betrayal and the loss of respect between Jake and Montoya and Cohn. Jake shows how throughout the novel he continually becomes more and more self-centered and selfishi.

If we consider Brett for a moment, we see that she is presented as wandering /roaming in a kind of moral vacuum. She shows self-disgust and also disgust with Jake, even though this is shown to be unfair. She stands against conventional morality by engaging in numerous brief affairs which shows her to be a self-destructive personality. These strings of affairs are an escape mechanism to flee from her relationship with Jake, whom she really loves but is unable to have sex.

Thus morality is an important theme as characters reject  conventional forms of morality and build  their own system of morals, they go, for their own reasons. Such morals have a lot to say about the characters in this book and the kind of desperate, detached/separate and selfish lives they lead.

For example, Pamplona also represents those who have empty values and those who have meaningful ones. Pedro Romero, the bullfighter, symbolizes the best values because he takes the violence out of violent sport through his artistry. Brett represents those with empty values, the partygoers who do nothing with their lives.

Paris is perceived/realized /felt in this chapter as a wasteland because of the way people treat one another and the fact that there are prostitutes  that gay men can be openly gay, because of its perversions. Jake feels particular strongly about this lack of moral virtue and actually gets angry when Prentiss and others don't seem to be as sickened by it as he is.

The interaction between the gay men and the prostitute Georgette is particularly galling to Jake as he sees two immoral creatures being horrible to each other. This lack of any human decency fills him with rage.

Comment on the treatment of religion in Earnest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises"

Ans: In Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises' we see Jake Barnes as a wounded American expatriate and Brett Ashley as an unconventional woman who does not fear breaking social norms. They journey to Spain and experience jealousy, displaced passions and a disillusionment that could only result from unrequited love. Hemingway uses biblical allusions, explores Jake's journey of 'reconciliation' and portrays Catholic traditions. His aim is to explore the way that Jake seeks religion to search for the meaning of life that he has lost.

Hemingway titles his novel The Sun Also Rises' based on a biblical passage from Ecclesiastes which reads "one generation passe the away, and another generation cometh, but the earth abides forever... The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hasted to a place where he arose...all the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again" (Ecc.1:4-7).

The use of this passage in the title shows the reason for the journey that Jake and Brett take to Spain. They hope that this is the journey that will find them meaning in a world that seems absurd and uncontrollable. Jake's journey in this novel is not one of a certain destination, and not of hopelessness, but it is rather the beginning of his search for truth and reconciliation to God as he learns to live his life in a meaningful way by seeking morality and rejecting selfishness.

The imagery in this biblical passage reiterates the idea of a "lost generation" which is seeking wisdom in a world that is constantly changing, yet similarly problematic for generations past and future. Throughout Jake and Brett's journey for meaning on their voyage to Spain, Jake begins to pursue religion lightly. Although he does not reject the church, he does not necessarily want to be closely associated with it at all.

Jake's war wound affects him sexually, and Brett is too interested in sexuality to enter into any serious relationship with him. She just only wants a purely emotional one. Jake pleads "Couldn't we just live together, Brett? Couldn't we just live together?" She is honest about her desires and responds "I don't think so, I'd just tromper (deceive/cheat) you with everybody. You couldn't stand it". Jake realizes that he and Brett will never be together in the way that he imagines.

It is the source of his disappointment. The reason that the relationship wouldn't work is due to a unexpected wound. This reality drives Jake to seek religion as a possibility to gain more control over his life by becoming more religious instead of actually seeking God due to belief.

Jake is skeptical in religious belief. When Bill asks Jake if he is a Catholic, Jake answers "Technically". It indicates that he is pessimistic, or at least skeptical of God due to his injury and hopeless relationship with Brett. He is not willing to associate himself too rigidly with the Catholic denomination, although he does not reject it. To Jake religion is a matter of following some traditions, praying for things such as the "bullfight...fiesta...and fishing".

However, even through his skepticism, he continues to frequent churches in Spain and even attends mass. It suggests that he continues to search for meaning in religion through a journey of "reconciliation.

In conclusion we may say that Hemingway uses biblical allusions to portray Jake's search for truth and morality in a generation that is seeking a new way of life after a debilitating war. The novelist uses Brett and Jake's relationship to portray how a new generation was trying to reconcile old values with new ways of life.

Central Idea and Critical Comment of 
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway (Novel)

Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in America. The Sun Also Rises is his remarkable novel. It has been recognized a novel about the lost generation. The novel shows the condition of modern man in a society that has been disturbed by the violence of First World War. Robert Cohn, Lady Brett Ashley, Jake Barnes and Pedro Romero are major characters of the novel. Jake Barnes is the narrator of the novel.

Both Jake Barnes and Robert Cohn are considered as central characters or protagonists. Hemingway himself has suggested that the mother earth is the hero of the novel. Robert Cohn was once boxing champion. (But he did not care much for boxing. He came of an aristocratic Jewish family in New York. He has been presented as a romantic young man who is aware of the shortness of life. He was an attractive quantity to women.

He married a nice girl. He had three children. He lost fifty thousand dollars that his father had left him. His marital life was not happy at all. So, he decided to leave his wife. But his wife left him before materializing his decision. After the divorce he became an exclusive editor. But very soon he left his profession. He made relation with Frances Clyne.

They settled in Paris. After passing two years Cohn wanted to get away from Paris mostly because he wanted to get rid of Frances. Now he made relation with Lady Brett Ashley. He wanted to know from his friend Jake Barnes some information about her. Brett was thirty-four and had already married twice. Cohn became successful in convincing Brett to go with him to San Sebastian for a week. Gradually Cohn came to know that Brett was deeply in love with Pedro Romero (bull-fighter).

With the defeat of Cohn at the hands of Pedro Romero it became clear that the romantic conception of life which was suitable before the war cannot be expected in the post-war period. Cohn symbolizes the pre-war values. At the same time Brett represents the liberated woman after the First World War. Brett had fallen love with Jake Barnes. Brett refused to receive money from Pedro Romero though she was insolvent.

Jake Barnes had a vast experience of the First World War. He became wounded and lost his valuable organ penis in an accident. Brett fell in love with Jake Barnes, even though she knew the nature of his injury. Jake was the one who introduced Brett to Cohn. Jake learnt from Brett that she had spent a week with Cohn at San Sebastian. Again, Jake was the medium through whom Brett contacted Pedro Romero. Jake is a typical Hemingway protagonist. He is a man living a meaningless life in Paris. He has been a victim of the First World War.

Jake realizes that love is an enjoyable feeling but love uncompleted is like hell on earth. Brett being a nymphomaniac cannot help going from one man to another. Jake's physical injury becomes a psychological wound. The writer shows that pre-war culture and values have no force in modern times. Jake's life is entirely justified in searching for new values that would enable him to lead a life of dignity and self-respect. Jake can find no liberation in Paris where is rotten to the center. It is a rotten life that Jake has led and he has no hope.

He cannot sleep at night because of his thoughts of Brett and the injury he has received in the war. He weeps in the night. The middle-class ways which he had inherited from his parents are no longer valid and he is separated from the society. His life in Paris becomes boring and hopeless. Robert Cohn is trapped in the life and culture of the 19th century. He doesn't realize the code of the lost generation. His love for Brett is romantic and dreamy. Brett is the most dominant character and she can be called the heroine of the novel.

Jake Barnes and Brett are two lovers desexed by the war. Brett is also engaged to marry Mike Cambel. She passes on from Jake to Cohn, Cohn to Romero and back to Jake at the end of the novel. She is a victim of the war like the other characters. She is the symbol of post war liberated woman. Jakes is a sufferer of the war physically as well as psychologically. The message of the story is that life is futile and human actions however heroic or disgraceful do not really matter. The novel fascinates beauty of outdoor life in which Jake finds his lost vitality and even manhood.

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