Critical Analysis of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway

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In post WWI Paris, we meet Jake Barnes and his clan; a ragtag group of melodramatic drunks with expensive taste. Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises is the embodiment of the time period, one part Jazz Age, one part Lost Generation. From the start of the book, one gets a heavy sense of aimlessness. This is just what the characters in the book are—especially our dear Jake Barnes, an ex-patriot who’s war wound left him impotent and raw. Wounds and wounding work in this piece by reinforcing the themes and motifs of dissatisfaction, identity, and the faultiness of communication.
Throughout the book, Hemmingway makes it clear that despite the excessive and seemingly carefree lifestyle of his characters, they are miserable. It is said by Lady Brett Ashley in the first glimpse of intimacy we see between her and Jake. Jake says he feels “like hell” quite often. Even such characters as Robert Cohn and his fiancé, Francis talk about being upset about living in Paris, or not getting married. Each character one encounters is unhappy in one way or another. They are all wounded. Of course it is inferred that Jake has been both physically and mentally hurt in the war and he struggles with that every day, drinking copious amounts to stay sane. Brett is bruised from her past relationships and takes it out on all the men in her sight. Cohn seems to be the butt of every wise crack, which angers him to the point of actually fighting his compatriots. Hemmingway gives the reader a glance into the lives of each character one short dialogue at a time, both intriguing us and giving us a sense of the immense pain held by them.
Aside from the theme of dissatisfaction, one can see the major issue of identity clearly. After the war, Jake finds himself lost in m...

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... going on inside the minds of these characters than meets the eye.
In conclusion, Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises is a novel about the disillusionment and loss of identity felt after the destruction of World War I. This feeling of ambiguity reaches far past the ex-patriot of the story, affecting his love interest, the men she has on puppet strings, and those they encounter along their journey. Through the themes and motifs of dissatisfaction, identity, and faulty communication, one can clearly see how the act of being wounded and wounding has a profound influence on the work. “Undressing, I looked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed. That was a typically French way to furnish a room. Practical, too, I suppose. Of all the ways to be wounded.” (Hemmingway 38)

Works Cited

Hemmingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner, 2006. Print.

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