The Significance of the Title of The Sun Also Rises

The Significance of the Title of The Sun Also Rises

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The Significance of the Title of The Sun Also Rises


A good title is one of the most important elements of a book. A good title can hint at the theme and is something to keep in mind while reading a book itself. A very effective title is one that teases the reader, makes him ponder over its meaning and relationship to the book. One such book/title is The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. The title suggests an importance of time and a cyclical motif. Yet it also has a hopeful tone, focusing more on beginnings than on endings.


There are many cycles in the book and one of the most evident is that of Lady Brett Ashley and men. Brett has affairs with Cohn and Romero in the course of the book. In both cases there is a process of wooing, acceptance, and eventual rejection that takes place. It is also suggested that having affairs is a common practice for her, making that a cycle in and of itself.


The idea of cycles is also evident in a more ritualized form through the bull fighting and the Catholicism. Bull fighting is a very stylized affair that is mentioned throughout the whole book. Catholicism is also very ritualistic and is concerned with a religious cycle of life, death, and resurrection. Both add to the cycle motif Hemingway creates.


One of the best examples of cycles and the passage of time is the contrast of Romero and Belmonte. Belmonte is an old bull- fighter who has passed his prime; his sun is setting. Romero is a young bull- fighter who is just coming into his own; his sun is rising. Belmonte, "no longer had his greatest moments in the bull- ring. He was not sure that there were any great moments"(219). This contrast suggests the cycle of life and death. Good bull- fighters come and go. Just as Romero is in his prime, someday he too will be an older bullfighter, unable to move with the same grace he had in his youth.


This cycle of life and death can be seen on a much larger scale by looking at the ex-patriots. The ex-patriots are members of the post- World War I generation that is sometimes referred to as the Lost Generation. They went through the horrors of War and depression in their young lives and found themselves living in Europe and seemingly devoid of morals, spirituality, and purpose.

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This might lead one to think that their best days are passed, but I do not think that is what Hemingway believed. The title "The Sun Also Rises" suggests that while things might be bad for them now, there is always a tomorrow. Hemingway is hopeful for the future and dismisses the past and present by showing it as part of a greater cycle.


There is another possible interpretation of the title and that is as a sexual metaphor. The sun may be rising but Jake's winky sure ain't. With this interpretation there seems to be a theme of unrequited love. Jake loves Brett and she feels the same about him. Yet he is an incomplete man. He lost a part of himself in the war. To a certain degree his whole generation lost something in the war. And that is why they struggle on trying to find satisfaction and fulfillment in life, yet never able to fully achieve it. The sun is setting on the lost generation, their best days have passed them by. And that is why the thirty-four year old Brett cannot be with the nineteen year old Romero. They are on different sides of the cycle. It is also possible that Hemingway is saying that the sexual nature of relationships is not important. This is a bit of a stretch but if one looks at the title as in contrast to Jake's impotence, then it basically means: so what if your winky doesn't rise, the sun does.


The title "The Sun Also Rises" is great in that it makes the reader ponder its meaning and relevance to the story. Why did Hemingway not call the book "The Sun Is Setting"? He shows enough images of loss and heartbreak to give this book a possible depressing tone. Yet that is not the ultimate message. He is not trying to dwell on the fact that the fiesta is over. That is because there will be other fiestas. The Sun Also Rises is about cycles. One can never be saddened by an ending, a new beginning is always just around the corner. And so although the sun may set on good times, it always rises again.


Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest The Sun Also Rises. Scribner Paperbacks: NY, 1997.
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