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The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

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Published by D Hernandez

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Published by: D Hernandez on Jun 20, 2010
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Danielle HernandezMs. LevyAP American LiteratureMarch 16, 2010Breaking the codeA particular “code” is consistently used to form the heroes of ErnestHemingway’s various works of literature. In The Sun Also Rises, this “code” wasreferred to when Hemingway created the character of Jake Barnes, the main character andnarrator of the novel. The heroic personalities and morals of this character (or lack thereof) make him an excellent example of what a “Hemingway hero” truly is. Thesetraits are shown by how he associates with others, how he deals with his own problems,and how he deals with societal issues.This Hemingway hero always has very particular character traits. Unlike a “codehero” (the epitome of what a hero should be), the Hemingway hero has a number of shortcomings to go along with their admirable qualities. The Hemingway hero oftensuffers from an unreasonable or unbelievable wound or loss. They often choose to actrather than think or discuss things with others. The character is required to reject thenorms and values generally accepted in society. Insomnia, fear, anxiety, and despair often plague the Hemingway hero due to a struggle against the concept of “nada”. (Miles)“Nada” is a concept which must be understood in order to comprehend the worksof Ernest Hemingway and his practice of employing characters that follow a certain“code” of morals and character traits. The concept regards the lack of morals and anHernandez 1
absence of God brought about by the social attitudes of the Lost Generation (the youngexpatriates of post-WWI America). (Miles)Jake Barnes exhibits the characteristics of a Hemingway hero by the way he treatsthe people around him. He shows that he does have a lack of morals (this is hisacceptance of “nada”) but he usually is dissatisfied with living an immoral life. Jakeshows nonchalance towards a prostitute who he employs to accompany him one night.The fact that he introduces this woman to his friends by saying, “I wish to present myfiancée, Mademoiselle Georgette Leblanc” (Hemingway 24 Chapter 3) shows hisdisregarding attitude towards relationships and love. Had he been able to act as a codehero, he would have treated relationships with other people more seriously. Had he beenan anti-hero, the opposite would have occurred and he would have done the same thing but with no feelings of regret or even good feelings.Such unfeeling relationships with other can also be explained, not only by hisstatus of Hemingway hero or by his social surroundings, but also by his unreasonablewound. Jake Barnes suffered a groin wound from the war which left him impotent. Theseare two additional factors that make Jake a Hemingway hero since unreasonable woundsand losses as well as involvement in a war are attributes given to them. (Miles)The various internal struggles that Jake Barnes battles also match up with theideal Hemingway hero. Jake often suffered from insomnia since, when he was homealone, he did not have the distraction of his friends to keep “nada” away. He would “layawake thinking with his mind jumping around” and he also broke down into tears.(Hemingway 39 Chapter 4) The code hero would never break down into tears. TheHemingway hero, however, made a successful effort to never show weakness in theHernandez 2
 public but he often lets himself go when alone. Jake also has a sense of despair throughout the novel towards his failed love with Brett. He often takes their casualrelationship well but sometimes does experience a feeling of dejection. At one point hequestions if things could somehow work out between the two of them as lovers but soonsaw it as a foolish consideration. (Hemingway 62 Chapter 7)Another internal struggle he suffers is that of religious matters. Characteristic of aHemingway hero, Jake feels an absence of God and a lack of spirituality. Although he isnot heathenish, he does show a disconnection with his faith. When he and Bill were onthe train headed to Spain, a couple told him that he would have been able to get a mealfrom the congregation gathered on the train had he been Catholic. Jake then says,indifferently, “I am. That’s what makes me so sore.” (Hemingway 93 Chapter 9) In this,he shows that religion is not a deep belief to him; rather, it is simply some sort of labeland form of identification. Jake did not embrace his religion as a relationship to God. Atthis moment, it was just a way to get something that he wanted.The satisfactions that Jake gets out of life have no moral or spiritual purposes. Asa proper Hemingway hero, Jake Barnes seeks value in immediate and practical thingssuch as food, drink, and sex. (Miles) Although partially abstaining from the latter due tohis impotency, Jake does, as an expatriate, value food, drink, and mindless conversationwith friends. He may not be an alcoholic such as Lady Brett Ashley or CountMippipopolous, but he does drink heavily on occasion. In example, he drank a goodamount when he went fishing with Bill in Spain. “They had not lost any money on thewine” while there. (Hemingway 116 Chapter 11) Yet, Jake Barnes does put in an effort toHernandez 3

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