Analysis of Characters in Sun Also Rises
World War I weakened traditional concepts of morality, faith, and justice, no longer able to rely on the traditional beliefs that gave life meaning, the men and women who experienced the war became psychologically and morally lost, and they wandered aimlessly in a world that appeared meaningless: Jake, Brett, and their friends give a dramatic life to this situation. They fill their time with irrelevant and distracting activities, such as drinking, dancing, and debauchery. It is important to note that Hemingway never explicitly says that Jake and his friends’ lives are aimless, or that their aimlessness is because of the war. Instead Hemingway, suggests these ideas through his representation of the characters emotions. These emotions are not often showed however, “I lay awake thinking and my mind jumping around. Then I couldn’t keep away from it, and I started to think about Brett and all the rest of it went away” is a clear representation of the spare description of Jake Barne’s feelings. These stand in plain contrast to the characters’ shallow actions. Jake and his friends’ constant partying does not make them happy, very often, their celebration is joyless and driven by alcohol. Although they spend nearly all of their time partying in one way or another, they remain with no real purpose as if they should have never survived the war. Thus, their drinking and dancing is just a useless distraction, a purposeless activity that amplifies their loneliness and wondering.
The Lost Generation, or the generation that came to adulthood during World War 1, is portrayed through the characters in The Sun Also Rises. The characters in The Sun Also Rises are lost and Hemingway especially puts forwards this idea with Jake Branes, Lady Brett Ashley and Frances Clyne. Jake Barnes ‘I never used to realize it, I guess. I try and play it along and just not make trouble for people. Probably I never would have had any trouble if I hadn’t run into Brett when they shipped me to England’. This quotation is describing the war wound that left Jake impotent. He calls it a ‘funny thing’, but in reality, it’s what makes him lost. The wound restrains him from being with Brett physically, he is in love with Brett, yet he is unable to satisfy her because of his impotence. This makes him feel lost and in torment because he loves Brett and wants to be with her, but he can’t. On the other hand, what makes Lady Brett Ashley lost is very different. Lady Brett Ashley leads an aimless and unfulfilling life of drinking heavily and sleeping around. She has no direction in her life and is lost because she has no ambitions. Frances Clyne may not seem like a very important part of the novel due to her short appearance but she is also clearly lost. Frances Clyne is in despair ‘I’ve wasted two years and a half on him now. And I don’t know now if any man will ever want to marry me. Two years ago, I could have married anybody…Now I don’t think I could get anybody’, refers to Frances’ attempt to get Robert to propose to her. Frances beauty is fading, this and her manipulative attitude drives Cohn away and she wants to marry him for security. Robert didn’t propose but instead he paid for her to go to England, which made her miserable. Her goal was to marry Robert, but this did not happen. Now she is going to move to England and doesn’t think anybody will ever marry her. She is lonely and entirely lost.
Hemingway worked as a writer and the journalistic style is show in the sparse writing style. Because of Hemingway’s sparse writing style and surprisingly, the novel is innovative and challenging to read, this is because it implies and does not directly state much. Hemingway writes in this way to challenge perception and uses the Iceberg theory, making his modernist novel challenging to the reader as well as different form other post war novels. Other British post war novels were written to get over the war, to tell the story and leave it in the past. On the other hand, Fiesta’s long and meaningless conversations show how Hemingway could not move on from the war and just lived meaninglessly. Hemingway had two personalities his Macho Men side but deep down he was a broken man because of the war. There is a lot of Hemingway in Jake but also a bit in every character.
Several characters in The Sun Also Rises possess characteristics of modernism. However, Lady Brett Ashley is unquestionably the most modern of all the characters, Brett is lost because she has no direction in her life and this is because she is seemingly without ambition. Brett doesn’t seem to be moving forward in her life and she is completely lost because she loves Jake but decides she can’t be with him all because of his impotence. Brett’s rejection of Jake illustrates that her modernism. Brett says, ‘It’s wrong of you, Jake. It’s an insult to all of us. Look at Frances there, and Jo’. This quotation shows that Brett wants to move away from Jake despite her love for him. This makes her modern as it is an extremely different way of portraying women to the conventional manner of representing female characters. Brett doesn’t choose love, and this is a clear contrast to classic literature were women habitually choose to be with the person they loved. She challenges the traditional role of women in literature; so, making her the most modern character in the novel. Another reason Lady Brett Ashley displays modernism is due to her rejection of religion. When she talks with Jake, ‘Some people have God, ‘ [Jake] said. ‘Quite a lot.’ ‘He never worked very well with me’. Brett’s lack of religion is representative of modernism. Brett’s masculine traits make a controversial female character, this and the absence of religion make her the most modern character in The Sun Also Rises.
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