Masculinity in Hemingway´s The Sun Also Rises

762 Words4 Pages
Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises has his male characters struggling with what it means to be a man in the post-war world. With this struggle one the major themes in the novel emits, masculine identity. Many of these “Lost Generation” men returned from that war in dissatisfaction with their life, the main characters of Hemingway’s novel are found among them. His main characters find themselves drifting, roaming around France and Spain, at a loss for something meaningful in their lives. The characters relate to each other in completely shallow ways, often ambiguously saying one thing, while meaning another. The Sun Also Rises first person narration offers few clues to the real meaning of his characters’ interactions with each other. The reader must instead collect evidence from the indirect hints that Hemingway gives through his narrator, Jake Barnes. The theme of masculinity, though prevalent in the novel, is masked in this way. Jake war wound, Jake and Robert Cohn’s relationship, and the bull-fighting scene show the theme of masculinity.
The principal exploration of this theme derives from the revelation of Jake’s war wound. It is never openly stated, but is rather implied that a certain war injury has taken either his “masculinity” by him to being able to perform sexually. Jake’s self-consciousness of his issue is seen when he undressed himself and looked in the mirror. “Undressing, I looked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed…. of all the ways to be wounded. I suppose it was funny,” (Hemingway 38). Jake is ashamed to have this wound and the wound creates a grand injury in his masculinity. His wound though his never revealed to the reader, so only Jakes thoughts, words, and actions led to the conclusio...

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... that he cannot satisfy Brett’s unquenchable needs, and Brett acknowledges this as well. Jake lack of masculinity brings him any empty life, filling him with alcohol and other insufficient objects that can never truly satisfy him.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner, 1996. Print.
Leland, Jacob Michael. "Yes, that is a roll of bills in my pocket: the economy of masculinity in The Sun Also Rises." The Hemingway Review 23.2 (2004): 37+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
Strychacz, Thomas. "Dramatizations of Manhood in In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises." Hemingway's Theaters of Masculinity. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003. 53-86. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 162. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
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