"One generation passeth away, the passage from Ecclesiates began, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseh…"(Baker 122). A Biblical reference forms the title of a novel by Ernest Hemingway during the 1920s, portraying the lives of the American expatriates living in Paris. His own experience in Paris has provided him the background for the novel as a depiction of the 'lost generation'.
Hemingway's writing career began early; he edited the high school newspaper and, after graduation, got a job as reporter on a local newspaper. After that he was turned down by the Kansas City draft boards. He wanted to get to Europe and managed to there by volunteering as an ambulance driver. After being wounded, he recalled that life slid from him, "like you'd pull a silk handkerchief out of a pocket by a corner"(Villard 53), almost fluttered away, then returned. This was a period in his life when he became 'lost' and searched to overcome his own suffering and test his courage. His experiences in finding himself provided the background for The Sun Also Rises, which is one of the most famous novel ever written about the 'lost generation'. "It is Jake's narrative, his story, but behind Jake is Hemingway, the artist, manipulating the action"(Reynolds 73). Soon after the war, Hemingway married and he with his wife moved to Paris. There his bride gave him a letter of introduction to Gertrude Stein. When they met, she commented that "You are all a lost generation," a
casual remark, yet one which became world famous after Hemingway used it as an epigraph to his first major novel, The Sun Also Rises.
The term 'lost generation' means a great deal to Hemingway's readers. It reflects the attitudes of the interwar generation, especially those of the literatures produced by the young writers of the time. These writers believed that their lives and hopes had been shattered by the war. They had been led down by a glory trail to death not for noble, patriotic ideas, but for the greedy, materialistic gains of the power groups. In his novels
"Hemingway recorded the changes in the moral atmospheric pressure. Home, family, church and family gave this war-wounded generation no moral support. The old values—love, honor, duty, truth—were bankrupted by a war that systematically killed off a gener...
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...hough nothing could have any consequences"(Hemingway 155). The people immensely enjoy this rare freedom throughout the week.
In conclusion, Hemingway, being a part of the lost generation, accurately reflected the values of the lost generation through the portrait of the characters in The Sun Also Rises. His experiences, which was considered to be reprobate at that time, provided him the basis for writing the novel. The behavior of the characters demonstrates their view of life, casting back to how World War I changed their values through demoralization. They lived an aimless and dissipating life. They had deep doubt of self that was projected through an unending pattern of debauchery. They tended to live in here and now, while future and past seemed remote and abstract. Their identities were through their lack of ambition and ego, with a desperation born of the fear of the truth. On the other hand, they test their courage by placing themselves in dangerous situations. These systems and values are illustrated through the depiction of the characters in The Sun Also Rises, "a sad story about smashed people whose lives are largely beyond their own control"(Reynolds 73).
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