Lost Characters in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

Lost Characters in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

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The Lost Characters in The Sun Also Rises

In the novel The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, the lost generation is discussed. After the WWI, many were affected in different ways. This post-war generation is described by discrimination, lack of religion, escapism and inability to act.

The First character that is introduced into the novel is Cohn. He, as an outsider, is Jewish. Throughout the novel he is looked down upon in one way or another, but already he is separated from the rest which is shown when he is being described: "He had a hard, Jewish, stubborn streak" (p 18). This quote already shows that he is Jewish, and therefore different from the rest. Also, the fact that his streak is `hard [and] ...stubborn" shows that he is hard to deal with or be around. Even thought he is discriminated against, he is one of the very few that inform these people of the `lost generation' exactly how worthless they are when he says to Jake "You know what's the trouble with you? You're an expatriate. One of the worst type... Nobody that ever left their own country ever wrote anything worth printing. Not even in the newspapers" (p 120) and "Hello, you bums" (p50). He literally rubs into Jake's face what kind of a waste he has become once he left his country. It is rather surprising that the one who is much disliked and discriminated against sees the worthless characteristics of the others. The significance of the word `bums' used must be noticed since a bum is an idle worthless person by definition. This very well describes the `lost generation.'

Nevertheless, racism isn't the only separation that the people make. Even the concierge, who one would think would not be too proud, "[takes] great pride in telling me which of my guests were well brought up, which were of good family, who were sportsmen, a French word pronounced with the accent on the men. The only trouble was that people who did not fall into any of those three categories were very liable to be told there was no one home, chez Barnes" (p 60). This shows how important wealth and back ground is, but the ones who are part of the `lost generation' are not included into any of those simply because their background is forgotten, and they are all worthless people.

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Though this might not be seen as racism, it sure can be seen as discrimination.

Also, the people from the `lost generation' weren't intact with any religion in specific. Even Jake "was a little ashamed, and regretted that [he] was such a rotten Catholic, but realized there was nothing [he] could do about it, at least for a while, and maybe never" (p 103). This shows how these bums literally lack religion as a whole, they know the concept but have no hope.

In this `lost generations,' everyone is constantly trying to escape. However, Jake understands that there is no better place then any other when he says "'Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn't make any difference. I've tried all that. You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There's nothing to that" (p19). This really shows how lost this generation is, and even though traveling might be used, it is not helpful in the long run. Also, it shows that Jake has already tried to escape by traveling to different parts of the world, yet he is left to be the same part of the `lost generation.' Meanwhile, while Cohn, the scapegoat, tries to escape this reality, he "takes a bath, has a shave and a haircut and a shampoo, and something put on his hair afterward to make it stay down" (p 103). It can be seen that though he is in a way an outsider, he still finds it necessary to, in some way, to escape this reality and the worthlessness. Meanwhile, Jake remembers from the war that "There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people" (p 150). This shows how alcohol helped the now veterans escape reality, which is a habit that follows them even after the war. It lets them, for a little while, forget who they really are and all their troubles. The fiesta was also a get away where "The things that happened could only have happened [there]... Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. It seemed out of place to think of consequences during the fiesta" (p 158). This shows how this other way of escapism provided the same for the worthless, and the amount of alcohol beverages was unlimited, to fuel the escape.

Also, this `lost generation' is shown by Jake's inability to do what he should towards Brett. He admits it when he says "That seemed to handle it. That was it. Send a girl off with one man. Introduce her to another to go off with him. Now go and bring her back. And sign the wire with love. That was it all right" (p 243). This shows how he is unable to act the way that he should, especially if he is supposedly in love with Brett. The way that he contradicts his desires with his actions and the worthlessness of his actions show the instability of the `lost generation.' The book ends with the quote "Yes... Isn't it pretty to think so" (p 251). It is significant because it shows that even thought everything is gone, escapism remain. Jake says so after hearing Brett out while she questions what might have happened between the two of them. He admits that it would be nice to think so, but reality is harsh and not every wish comes true if one is a part of the lost generation.

In conclusion, the `lost generation' was literally lost. Their actions did not lead to anything positive in their lives and their discrimination was pointless. Most importantly, instead of doing something about their problems, these bums used escapism which also didn't get them far. Without hope, these worthless people weren't worth much and did not live their lives as good as they could have. That is the story of the `lost generation.'
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