The Sun Also Rises: Representatives Of The “Lost Generation” In A Novel

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The Sun Also Rises is a novel by Ernest Hemingway that shows the mindsets of the “lost generation”. Hemingway writes about post War World I events how it has affected the characters and changed they view themselves. The war has changed the characters due to the violence and traumatic events they have dealt with during that time. The war has changed ideas of morality, beliefs and justice and it left many people feeling hopeless and lost. With people feeling lost, they moved from normal ideologies of gender, sex and identity.

The main characters of the book, Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley define the roles of masculinity and femininity. Hemingway switches the role of the characters. During this time in the 1920s, many people had a sense of experimentation and switched roles more freely. The rules of the gender norms did not apply to this generation. This paper will talk about the shift in the gender roles in the 1920s and how Hemingway used the current times for inspiration in his novel, The Sun Also Rises.

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The theme of this novel is that war changes a person and destroys more than just the lives of soldiers on the battlefield. It has effects love lives and that love is painful. This is seen in the effects of Jake and Lady Brett with their relationship. While Jake wants to have a stable relationship with Brett, he knows that with his disability he will not be able to satisfy her in sexual ways. While, Brett likes Jake, she does not want to part of a committed relationship. She is just looking to have fun.

The end of the novel reflects this theme of love is painful, but also how the gender roles are still changed. Hemingway uses this theme to show how traditional masculinity was being challenged by the effects of war, and also how women were breaking away from the traditional role that men had assigned them while they were away at war. During this time the relationships of men and women were being changed drastically since women had to start doing men’s job plus theirs.

Hemingway plays with the defined ideas of what it is to be feminine and masculine through his character of Jake and Brett. Brett breaks away from her feminine mindset and takes the qualities of men. This leads her to behave like men with her sexuality and her behaviors. Hemingway describes Brett in a way that makes her sound masculine but also very desirable, “Brett was damned good-looking. She wore a slipover jersey seater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy’s. She started all that. She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey” (Hemingway 30) Hemingway portrays Brett as a masculine character that displays actions of promiscuity, and constantly gets what she wants with men. She is represented as the new empowerment of women.

Lady Brett Ashley was a nurse during War World 1. During that time, she saw many traumas and violence while working in the medical field. Along with these events and the death of her husband, she began to lose herself and her identity. This began her transformation of her new lifestyle.

The ending of the novel represents Jake and Brett’s relationship. Brett’s feelings for Jake makes her sad, because she wants to be him, but on the other hand knows that she cannot. The love of her life cannot give her everything that she needs, and Brett being more of a realist, she knows that the two of them do not have a real future together.

Jake’s character is also affected by the war and his emotions in his love life. With his physical condition from the war, he is now left with psychological consequences. His insecurities have left his masculinity in shambles.

Hemingway shows how the male characters in this novel struggle to show what it means to be a man. Being a man goes beyond just the physical traits.  


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