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Brett, Punishment, and Freedom in The Sun Also Rises

By: Danielle Walsh

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I’d like to thank Professor Valerie Rohy for all of her help as my thesis advisor. I’d also like to thank Professor Robyn Warhol-Down and Professor Emily Manetta for their contributions to my defense committee. Finally, I’d like to thank Mary Stewart for all of her peer-editing help and my parents and roommates for all of their support.

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Table of Contents Preface 4 9 19

Chapter 1: Brett as a Figure of the New Woman Chapter 2: Brett’s Power in The Sun Also Rises Chapter 3: Brett and Containment Chapter 4: Punishment as Suffering Conclusion Works Cited 51 53 28 44

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Preface I thought I had paid for everything. Not like the woman pays and pays and pays. No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values (Hemingway 152). In this passage from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Jake’s recognition of the societal need for the containment of women becomes apparent. Here, Jake realizes that women are engaged in a system in which they must constantly pay for what they receive. From this notion of constant payment, Jake then makes a sharp contrast with the system that he himself is a part of where payments are a simple exchange of values. This contrast highlights the way in which women are part of a system where payments are founded on ideas of retribution and punishment. The woman must not only give to receive, but she must also be punished in her payments. It is then from Jake’s recognition of this universal need for women to not only pay, but be punished, that the novel begins to explore issues concerning the containment of Brett, the novel’s leading lady. It is this issue of containment as a societal construct and the novel’s addressing of this issue that this paper will predominantly explore. In this paper I will use containment to refer to the way in which the novel deflates Brett’s power by trapping her in her own cycle of beginning and ending relationships with men. However, before further developing this idea, it is important to note that, in The Sun Also Rises, Brett Ashley emerges as a representative of the New Woman of the 1920s. As an embodiment of the New Woman, a historical figure that, by the 1920s, embodied aspects of androgyny that were perceived as threatening by patriarchal society (Smith-Rosenberg 265), Brett is assertive and displays a significant amount of sexual freedom in her ability to move from one man to the next as the narrative progresses. What is not initially as obvious is the

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manner in which Brett ultimately pays for her sexual freedom. This payment is enacted by Brett being trapped in a cycle of relationships that ends in her own emotional pain. Essentially, Brett uses her relationships as a means of purposefully inflicting emotional suffering on herself, and the novel comes to explore issues of containment by having Brett’s freedom come at a price. In other words, much as Jake notes, Brett “pays and pays and pays” in a manner that is not an equal exchange of values, but is rather a system of punishment. However, the novel frames this system of punishment in a manner that does not endorse it. Rather, by portraying the emotional suffering that stems from Brett’s selfpunishing behavior as tragic, the novel does not provide blanket support of Brett’s containment and, correspondingly, questions society’s containment of the New Woman. In this complex, interrelated web of Brett’s own intentional self-punishment and the novel’s framing of that punishment, it is important to remember that the text is working on two different levels. In other words, the text works both on the level of its characters and on the level of the novel as a construct itself. Thus, the fact that Brett intentionally uses her power in her relationships with men as a means of “punishing” herself does not mean that the novel is also “punishing” her. Instead, the novel has the option of framing Brett’s behavior in a way that allows the novel to make Brett’s pain tragic. It does this by establishing Brett as part of the society of Hemingway’s suffering heroes. In other words, by carefully drawing out Brett’s suffering, the novel is able to create empathy between the reader and Brett which connects Brett to other Hemingway heroes, like Jake, who endure similar emotional turmoil. However, the way in which Brett’s tragedy also causes Jake’s suffering further complicates how the novel constructs Brett. Thus, in the end the novel presents an ambiguous portrayal of Brett that feeds back

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Considering that Whitlow goes on to trace what he terms the “Brett-the-bitch school” (149) of criticism back to Edmund Wilson’s 1941 The Wound and the Bow. This is especially true when considering some of the critical comments that come from the Brett-the-bitch school.into Brett’s connection to the New Woman by questioning the similar containment of the New Woman that was being enacted by society. Margot Macomber. as opposed to being a price that the New Woman has to pay. but rather spans across more than 40 years. it is apparent that the criticism on Brett as a “bitch” is not a brief moment in the history of criticism on The Sun Also Rises.This comment highlights the fact that Brett was still being framed as a “bitch” as late as the 80s. Roger Whitlow still commented that “conventional critical wisdom tells us that Brett Ashley. and those that do tend to frame Brett’s suffering as being simply some aspect of the lost generation. The length of this period suggests that the view of Brett as a bitch is one that is deeply engrained into the critical consciousness to this day. Leslie Fiedler’s reference to Brett as “the bitchgoddess with a boyish bob” (28). Helen. In 1984. continue to frame 6 . elevates Brett out of the realm of mere bitch to an entirely new level of negative portrayal. like Milton Cohen. the critical view of Brett as “bitch” is not too far removed from contemporary criticism. Thus. even after Whitlow begins arguing against the identity of Brett as a bitch. and Dorothy Bridges are Hemingway’s bitch-women” (148). other critics. Essentially. Also. The importance of examining this issue of Brett’s power and containment in the text as part of her connection to the New Woman rests primarily in the present gap in the existing criticism. very few critics seek to discuss Brett as being on a par with Jake in terms of emotional turmoil. For example. This degree of negative portrayal sets up a critical discourse that is difficult to break from.

” Brett is one of the most misread Hemingway women. and thereby buttressed the positive elements of Jake Barnes’ persona” (142). Sodomy.” Brett is still frequently seen in a negative light. Linda Wagner-Martin also views Brett as misread and argues that “Hemingway had never intended Brett to be an affront. as Cohn does. Fulton tries to address this issue by looking at the ways in which Jake’s narration of Brett is tainted by Jake’s own emotions. even though literary criticism on Brett has come a long way from the portrayal of Brett as simply a “bitch. correspondingly. Richard Fantina’s article “Hemingway’s Masochism. Wagner-Martin implies that Hemingway actually intended Brett to be “a warm. how it has shaped the critical discourse surrounding Brett. Thus. but rather as a quest for meaning.” However. and focuses in on how both are “witches” who emasculate men (304). believable.” Part of this denial of the negative aspects of Brett’s interactions with men is the fact that most previous criticism focuses on Jake’s self-punishing behavior instead of Brett’s. Thus. Cohen compares Brett to Circe. Also. These examples all highlight how pervasive the criticism of Brett as a bitch has been and.Brett in these types of terms. she was to have gained readers’ sympathy and admiration. As Lorie Watkins Fulton argues in her article “Reading Around Jake’s Narration: Brett Ashley and The Sun Also Rises. Similarly. and 7 . Fulton then goes on to portray Brett as a character of exceptional depth in the novel by systematically refuting common criticisms of Brett such as the portrayal of Brett as a “bitch. more recent criticism has sought to deny the existence of negative qualities in Brett’s interactions with men as it moves away from the prototype of Brett as “bitch. For example. Fulton seeks to frame Brett’s sexual relationships in a positive light by viewing them not as an act of manipulation. brave woman” (142).

such a new understanding will be instrumental in providing an alternative view about the necessity for the containment of the New Woman. Additionally. For Fantina. Furthermore. it is not in fact inconsistent with a feminist reading of Brett. Correspondingly. this connection to the New Woman is significant in that it will provide a new way of understanding the New Woman by showing an example of suffering that is inherently tragic. as a representative of the larger group of the New Woman. I will not be trying to deny the negative aspects of Brett’s relationships and imbue them with a false positive aspect. is the equal of some of the novel’s men in her self-punishing behavior. In this article. Rather. Jake’s embracing of this domination and humiliation becomes masochistic. I will show that Brett. I will embrace the flaws of Brett’s relationships as being a manifestation of the inevitable consequence of societal pressures placed on the New Woman. 8 . Essentially.the Dominant Woman” focuses on the ways in which Jake perpetuates a cycle of selfpunishing behavior while ignoring the possibility that a similar argument could be applied to Brett. in Fantina’s view. While this may seem to cast Brett in a negative light. In this way. From this foundation of previous criticism. Fantina argues that men like Jake are masochistic in that they allow themselves to be dominated by women. I will offer a view of self-punishment as being as much Brett’s as it is Jake’s. while Brett is the dominating agent and not subject to similar behaviors. Brett is then a dominant force in the novel that functions to humiliate Jake by taking over the traditionally masculine role in their relationship.

Brett inspires a similar type of anxiety. go to college. this connection ultimately functions as a means of exploring issues of masculine anxiety and the containment of women without condoning either. In terms of the presence of the New Woman. Based upon this prevalence both of the New Woman and of masculine anxiety. Brett emerges as an embodiment of this historical figure in the novel. in turn. and start working in the “male” world. Essentially. The New Woman initially emerged as a figure in the 1890s who began going to college and infringing on male-dominated careers (Schneider 16). The New Woman was a historical figure that became prominent in the public eye as she began to redefine gender roles.Chapter 1: Brett as a Figure of the New Woman Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises was originally published in 1926. This. Brett’s identification with the New Woman creates a circumstance in which the expected conclusion of The Sun Also Rises would involve Brett’s punishment. However. The presence of this historical New Woman then generated a certain amount of masculine anxiety as women began to take over typically masculine gender roles and spheres (Schneider 16). this New Woman was slightly 9 . it is not surprising that both of these topics become thematically important in The Sun Also Rises. Correspondingly. began generating masculine anxiety as “many men feared that women would take their jobs or would lower the wages by being willing to work for less” which caused men to cling “to the domestic ideal” (Schneider 51). The term “New Woman” is one with a diverse array of meanings that warrants further definition. a time at which the historical figure of the New Woman was gaining a lot of notice. which seemingly sets up the opportunity for masculine anxiety to contribute to containment. however.

This second note highlights the 10 .different from the New Woman of the 1920s. The novel itself is then aware of the importance of Brett’s haircut as a symbol of the New Woman taking on masculine qualities through its note that “She [Brett] started all that” (Hemingway 30).” which Jake shows a particular appreciation for through his note that “you missed none of it with that wool jersey” (Hemingway 30). The most important of these shared characteristics is the previously mentioned blending of the feminine and the masculine in both appearance and displays of power as seen in her role in relationships. it is Brett’s hair that most clearly evokes the masculine. especially considering the proximity of this period to the preceding Victorian era where “long hair…was the symbol for woman” (Wylder 31). who will here after be the focus of this paper. Here. The portrayal of Brett in the novel functions to draw out the connection between Brett and this historical figure of the New Woman. This masculine physical trait is then coupled with the feminine physical trait of curves being like those of “the hull of a racing yacht. Carroll SmithRosenberg identifies this gender role blending as a trait of the New Woman saying that the New Woman “violated normal gender categories” and “fused the female and the male” (Smith-Rosenberg 265). This later New Woman pushed past the example of the preceding generation by infringing on the masculine in her physical appearance as well as in her level of education and career choice by combining masculine and feminine traits. but rather as an influential symbol within the realm of the novel. Brett shows her physical presence to be a similar fusion as Hemingway describes her both as a bit of a boy with “her hair…brushed back like a boy’s” and as a woman with curves like “the hull of a racing yacht” (Hemingway 30). This idea that Brett started the trend of short hair positions Brett as not simply a symbol of the New Woman.

…If it doesn’t buck you’” (Hemingway 145). so do the other male characters and even Brett herself. Brett stands with Jake to watch the bulls come in. Mike thinks that “Brett had best sit high up for her first time” 11 .importance of Brett’s feminine physical traits just as the note about Brett originating the style of her hair emphasizes the masculine traits. Brett continues “watching. “‘Fine. Jake’s perception of Brett as being incapable of tolerating the violence of the fights is completely overturned as Brett enthusiastically watches the charge and even notices the way in which the bull uses his horns like a boxer. just as Jake has been pointing out. Brett most notably asserts herself in a masculine sphere through her behavior at the bullfights. Just as Jake doubts Brett’s suitability for the masculine realm of the bullfight. As Smith-Rosenberg notes. Thus. However. The first manifestation of Brett’s ability to assert herself in the sphere of the bullfights occurs before the first actual fight when the bulls are being brought into the corrals. like the New Woman. Here. “‘Don’t look’” (Hemingway 145). and Jake shows his concern for Brett’s ability to cope with the bulls goring the steers by telling her. is androgynous in many ways. fascinated. “The New Woman challenged existing gender relations and the distribution of power” (243). but she also challenged patriarchy. In addition to these aspects of Brett’s physical appearance. prior to the first bullfight. the way in which both the masculine and feminine aspects of Brett’s physical appearance are emphasized. Thus. Therefore. with the same results. reveals the overall importance of the way in which Brett. there are also elements of Brett’s behavior that further make her a symbol of the New Woman by inserting her into typically masculine spheres. the New Woman was not only androgynous.” which forces Jake to state. In a similar way.

it is particularly telling that physicians and scientists identified the New Woman as “the 12 . From these connections to the historical figure of the New Woman. the ‘new woman’ or the ‘twentieth century woman. However. In this passage. Brett surprises everyone by being completely unfazed by the fights. “‘I didn’t feel badly at all’” (Hemingway 169). As she tells Jake. Brett asserts herself in a primarily male arena. as a woman.’ They violated normal gender categories…. Even Brett herself expresses similar concern. telling Jake that “‘I’m a little nervy about it…. the figure of the New Woman inspired a fair amount of anxiety in patriarchal society because of the New Woman’s tendency towards androgyny and her movement into previously maledominated careers. the opportunity for masculine anxiety to attach itself to Brett arises.I’m worried whether I’ll be able to go through with it all right’” (Hemingway 166). This anxiety in terms of androgyny was manifested in the concerns of physicians about this new emerging class of women: “…British and American physicians and scientists insisted that unmarried career women and political activists constituted an ‘intermediate sex.(Hemingway 165) as a means of physically distancing her from the arena.The were ‘Mannish Lesbians. All of this talk before the fight reflects the belief that Brett. which further connects her to the historical figure of the New Woman who also asserted herself in primarily male fields.’ breaking from the stricture of Victorianism as much as most of the expatriated males in the novel” (29) In all of these examples. In the 1920s. will struggle to handle the graphic nature of the bullfights more than any of the other characters will.’ the embodiment of social disorder” (Smith-Rosenberg 265). Delbert Wylder makes this connection between Brett’s behavior and that of the New Woman even more explicitly by stating that “[Brett] is obviously.

physicians further contributed to the interplay of gender and careers in their expounding of the belief that educating women would lead to hysteria. it was thought that while “In men. the reproductive organs” (Brown 35) were dominant. In this way. In addition to this focus. Essentially. the mention of these women as having careers highlights the ways in which both gender identity and the introduction of women into the job market played into patriarchal fears.’ Neurasthenia. In terms of this masculine anxiety. all of these attempts to contain the historical New Woman reveal the intensity of the anxiety that her figure generated. In other words. or insanity could result” (Brown 35). Correspondingly. Just as the historical New Woman was seen as threatening.embodiment of social disorder. the patriarchal order worked to limit the power of the New Woman by recasting her as a danger to society and fighting against women receiving higher education. These “scientific” opinions functioned as a means of undermining the ability for women to attend colleges and then to use their educations to find jobs in previously male careers. In addition to these fears surrounding gender expression.” and “The ‘over stimulated brain…would become morbidly introspective. Cohn emerges as the character that is the most transparent about the fear that he feels concerning Brett. The 13 . “To educate women with the same rigor as men would divert needed energy from the uterus. hysteria. the emergence of a figure that refused to remain confined by the previously prescribed female gender roles was so threatening that educated medical professionals sought to neutralize this threat by identifying these women as the source of social disorder.” revealing the extent of anxiety felt about this figure. Brett as is also threatening to the novel’s men. in women. Additionally. the brain and heart dominated.

Similarly. or the drawing room in Victorian society. she is no longer capable of loving or being loved” (29).first articulation of the degree of fear that Cohn possesses is in his reference to Brett as Circe. and if she is able to do so it must be because there is something sadistic about her.e. Brett’s boyish haircut is one of the things 14 . As Mike explains.” This reason shows that Cohn does not want Brett to be able to handle the bullfights. i.…He claims she turns men into swine’” (Hemingway 148). healthy stomach. then. after the bullfights Cohn tries to portray Brett’s insertion of herself into the masculine world of the fights as a negative thing by portraying Brett as a sadist. Romero’s anxiety is revealed primarily through his concerns about Brett’s hair. healthy stomach’” (Hemingway 170). Cohn’s negative labeling of Brett reveals his own fears concerning her presence in the patriarchal society of the fights. Here again. Much like Cohn. Both of these examples then come to function as a means of showing Cohn’s masculine anxiety about Brett as a figure of the New Woman. that once a woman leaves the cave in primitive society. “‘He [Cohn] said Brett was a sadist…. As Mike again announces. As previously mentioned. Cohn is here guilty of believing that “‘freedom and mobility’ automatically destroy the ‘natural warmth’ of women” and of leaving the reader to “suppose. He is showing how afraid he is of Brett’s power by desperately trying to discredit her. “‘He [Cohn] calls her Circe. Romero exhibits some aspects of masculine anxiety in his interactions with Brett. In this moment.He said Brett was a sadist just because she has a good. This is best revealed by the reason that Mike attributes to Cohn for calling Brett a sadist. but essentially as the “bitch” who ruins men. Cohn is attempting to defame Brett by casting her not as the hysterical woman. Much as Wylder accuses Mark Spilka. “because she has a good.

Romero’s desire for Brett to have long hair is fundamentally about him wanting “her to fit the stereotype” (31). Additionally. In fact. Based on this prevalence of masculine anxiety in the text and the societal concerns with the New Woman. Romero’s desire that Brett grow her hair out reflects a desire to force her back into her societally prescribed gender role. I’d look a fright’” (Hemingway 246). the fact that Brett mentions that Romero wanted her to grow out her hair in the sentence after first noting that other people “‘ragged him about me at the café. As Wylder notes.He said it would make me more womanly. The end result of both Cohn and Romero’s behavior is to show how though Brett “is tremendously attractive and sexually stimulating. but rather is about a broader societal pressure for her to fit the stereotype. she is also a threat…” (Wylder 32).that identifies her with the New Woman as it creates a certain amount of androgyny in Brett’s physical appearance. she makes a point of noting that Romero wanted her to grow out her hair so that she would be more of a woman: “‘He [Romero] wanted me to grow my hair out. when Brett explains the situation to Jake. Me. I guess’” (Hemingway 246) shows how Romero’s desire for her to have long hair is not simply about him wanting her to fit the stereotype. which is highlighted by the tendency of other novels from the period to contain similarly threatening women. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the 15 . with long hair…. This explicit reasoning of the long hair making Brett more of a woman shows how Romero is trying to defuse the threat of Brett by transforming her back into a woman and no longer allowing her to be an example of the New Woman who blends the genders. An example of such an attempt to defuse the threat of a woman asserting herself into the masculine order is apparent in F. an expectation of the novel to contain Brett emerges. Thus.

Dick tells two other doctors that he is “‘half in love with her’” and that “‘the question of marrying her has passed through my mind’” (Fitzgerald 140). since there is no other resistance to Nicole’s claim. Knowing that your illness following the law of diminishing returns’” (Fitzgerald 267). Essentially. am I?’” (Fitzgerald 267). Nicole. this doctor is predicting that Dick’s marrying Nicole will only led to his own ruin as he brings her to a place of mental health. 16 . One time in twenty it’s finished in the first push – better never see her again!’” (Fitzgerald 140). The realization that this foreshadowing is true is revealed in the fact that.Night. Essentially. In response to these professions. allows it to stand completely uncontested. both Dick and Nicole’s belief that she is at fault for Dick’s fall is only endorsed by the novel in its foreshadowing of this moment. Dick’s response to Nicole’s question of “‘After all. “‘What! And devote half your life to being doctor and nurse and all – never! I know what these cases are. at the end. This lack of resistance to Nicole’s self-deprecating claim reflects Dick’s belief in its truth and. the plot centers on the relationship between Dick Divers and his wife. Furthermore. one of the doctors responds by exclaiming. Additionally. Nicole’s existence as the vehicle of Dick’s fall is evidenced by Nicole’s own belief in her culpability: “‘Some of the time I think it’s my fault – I’ve ruined you’” (Fitzgerald 267). Ultimately. In Tender is the Night. the novel comes to contain Nicole not by ruining her in the narrative. what do you get out of this?’” is “‘Knowing you’re stronger every day. Dick emerges as a tragic hero and Nicole merely becomes the vehicle responsible for his fall as she rises out of mental illness only to drag Dick down. but by making her responsible for Dick’s ruin. Earlier in the novel. Nicole’s declaration that she is responsible for Dick’s descent is met with Dick’s sarcastic reply of “‘So I’m ruined.

while Tender is the Night treats Nicole in an expected way. the fact that Nicole’s rise out of the depths of mental illness involves a simultaneous movement into what had formerly been Dick’s world triggers the need for Nicole to be demonized in the text. the fact that at the novel’s close Dick is both without his family and any form of sustainable employment only acts to emphasize both the reversal that has taken place with Nicole in terms of traditional gender roles and Dick’s existence as a tragic victim (Fitzgerald 315). however. reflects her placement of herself in a masculine world. Nicole’s final decision to pursue a relationship with Tommy. This need to make Nicole responsible for Dick’s fall is clearly attributed to her movement into the masculine realm. The most obvious example of Nicole’s entrance into the masculine world is her pursuit of an affair with Tommy Barban. The Sun Also Rises does not follow a similar pattern with 17 . going back to the house she became doubtful again” (Fitzgerald 277). Essentially. which makes it roughly contemporaneous with The Sun Also Rises. the novel positions Nicole as responsible for Dick’s downfall. which then results in her being contained by being negatively portrayed.Here it becomes clear that Dick has fallen while trying to rescue Nicole. it is by occupying a position in which she has the freedom of a man and by leaving her husband that Nicole threatens the heteronormative. Nicole herself even recognizes that having an affair is something that only men are really permitted to do. as she notes after overhearing two men discuss their own affairs. “it seemed all right what they were saying – one thing was good for one person. Tender is the Night was published in 1933. another for another. Essentially. Thus. Yet it was a man’s world she had overheard. and to ultimately leave Dick for Tommy. which functions to contain Nicole by portraying her negatively. In these ways. just as predicted. Additionally.

Based upon this connection. the novel will ultimately come to merely explore and question this cultural phenomenon. explores issues of masculine anxiety and the push to contain the New Woman without portraying Brett in a negative way. Tender is the Night does what is expected. The Sun Also Rises. 18 . but instead of using Brett’s connection to the New Woman to condemn her. on the other hand. In this way. the text connects Brett to the New Woman and the masculine anxiety and societal attempts at containment that accompany this figure.Brett. The way in which Tender is the Night treats Nicole logically follows from masculine anxiety. it seems logical that Brett would meet a similar fate as Nicole. Brett’s connection to the historical figure of the New Woman is clearly drawn out in The Sun Also Rises. By highlighting her androgynous physical appearance and intrusion into patriarchal society.

reflecting an inability to act as the terminator of that relationship. Ultimately. with some variations. this deviation becomes significant in the way that it reveals how Brett’s source of power also figures into her punishment. Throughout the novel. This pattern. it is generally accepted that the nature of Brett’s power is in her ability to control her relationships with the men that she interacts with. the connection between Brett’s power and punishment can begin to be drawn. Brett’s power is manifested in her ability to both initiate and terminate her affairs. it is through this specific act of initiation and termination that Brett’s principle source of power is manifested. To be more specific though. In this relationship. Brett selects the men with whom she desires to have a sexual relationship and then pursues them only to later forcibly end the affair. is seen in her interactions with both Romero and Cohn in a more obvious way and with Jake and Michael in a less direct fashion. The first example of Brett’s ability to function as both the initiator and terminator of her relationships can be seen in her interactions with Jake Barnes. Thus. criticism that focuses on Brett as a “bitch” focuses primarily on the ways in which she dominates the various male characters. and by examining the reiterations of this cycle of initiation and termination as well as deviations from it. However. In other words. In fact. In fact. It also is a fact that has often been commented on by critics.Chapter 2: Brett’s Power in The Sun Also Rises The fact that Brett Ashley has power over the men in The Sun Also Rises is something that contributes to the anxiety about her in the text. as has been discussed in the previous chapter. the only notable deviation from this pattern is in her decision to return to Michael at the novel’s close. in Brett’s first 19 . it is Brett who repeatedly attempts to initiate an affair with Jake.

However. Jake notes that “Brett pressed my hand hard” (Hemingway 32). arguably. emphasis added). Brett is soliciting the ensuing romantic encounter with Jake by first removing him from the party and then by initiating physical contact. His move to kiss her forces Brett to reinstate her control over the encounter by ending it. it is she who says to Jake. 20 . phallocentric ideology. Thus. once Jake attempts to gain control of the relationship in the cab. and apparently Brett’s own. Unlike in her affairs with Romero and Cohn. Jake’s war wound prevents any sexual relationship from actually occurring based on the novel’s. Brett quickly terminates the encounter by moving away from Jake: “…I kissed her. “‘Let’s get out of here’” (Hemingway 31) and before they enter the cab in which Jake kisses Brett. Our lips were tight together and then she turned away and pressed against the corner of the seat. it is Jake who. In fact. The way that Brett’s would-be affair with Jake then seemingly breaks from this model is on the macrocosmic level. Her head was down. Thus. ends the sexual game that he and Brett play throughout the novel at the book’s close. on the microcosmic level. her ability to end this encounter is an example of how her power is manifested in her complete control of relationships. Therefore. Brett’s interactions with Jake fit within the initiation/termination model in that Brett initiates and terminates would-be sexual encounters with Jake. ‘Don’t touch me.scene.’ she said” (Hemingway 33. as far away as she could get. on the macrocosmic level Brett continues to try to initiate a relationship with Jake. It is significant that here the trigger for ending the encounter is Jake’s own attempt to control the terms of the relationship. and thus never manages to truly terminate the relationship. Thus. Brett again tries to initiate a sexual exchange with Jake saying. “‘Oh. In this final scene. but cannot consummate it.

as Jake terminates the relationship. As Milton Cohen argues. despite the seeming deviation from the model of Brett’s autonomy in relationships. it is only through Jake’s realization that he and Brett have reached the “end of the line” that he can “free himself of the illusion of the ‘damned good time’ they could have had together. the end of her relationship with Jake may be more Brett’s than is initially obvious. Similarly. In fact. Thus. This is a moment that is charged with an implicit allusion to Jake’s impotence as a policeman raises his baton while Brett talks about what could have been. the fact that Brett terminates encounters with Jake throughout the novel only to initiate new encounters later culminates in this final initiation attempt that becomes a 21 . thus reflecting Brett’s phallocentric ideology and causing Jake to respond with. this example may actually more accurately be seen as a case in which Brett is using Jake as a tool to end the relationship. “‘Yes…Isn’t it pretty to think so?’” (Hemingway 251). Essentially. it is Jake that is terminating the relationship and not Brett. As Rudat again argues: “[Brett] is rubbing in his impotence for the following reason: after she has on several occasions tried in vain to tear herself away from Jake. Wolfgang Rudat argues that “Hemingway…hints that in the closing lines Jake is finally killing his love for Brett” (77). This response provides Jake with a means of refusing to continue with the cycle of initiating and terminating sexual encounters by dubbing Brett’s attempt to begin another cycle as just a “pretty” thought.Jake…we could have had such a damned good time together’” (Hemingway 251). with the dripping irony of his final response: ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so’” (Cohen 304).…she finally forces him to terminate a relationship whose sexually frustrating nature she can no longer endure” (77). Brett continues to cling to the idea of what could have been. Essentially. However.

the underlying demand that Brett makes is highlighted by actions occurring outside of the conversation that Jake and Brett are having. Here. is quick to point out.” following Brett around and obsessing about his relationship with her long after she has moved on: “‘Tell me. it is Cohn and not Brett who is left pining for the relationship to continue. that acts to reveal the way in which Brett is making demands that she knows Jake cannot satisfy. in her affair with Robert Cohn. As Michael. Similarly. when Brett repulses Cohn following the San Sebastian trip. it is the juxtaposition of Brett’s comment with her being pressed against Jake as the policeman raises his baton.You came down to San Sebastian where you weren’t wanted. it is Brett who initiates an affair with Cohn by selecting him to go with her to San Sebastian. Thus. The fact that Brett does this by making sexual demands on Jake that he knows he cannot keep is highlighted in the final scene. Cohn is the one behaving “like a steer. and followed Brett around like a bloody steer. Brett quickly emerges as the party in control of the relationship. Why do you follow Brett around like a poor bloody steer? Don’t you know you’re not wanted? I know when I’m not wanted…. Furthermore.’ 22 . Do you think that’s right?’” (Hemingway 146). a phallic signifier that reminds Jake of what he cannot do. despite the seeming break in the model of Brett controlling the relationship from start to end. Sometimes they go right after them and kill them. To be more specific. Brett’s fiancé. Robert. Jake’s break from Brett may conform to this model through Brett’s ability to force Jake to make the decisive break. This insult is especially poignant when read through the lens of an earlier conversation between Jake and Cohn: ‘Do they [the bulls] ever gore the steers?’ ‘Sure. Just as in her relationship with Jake.means for Brett to force Jake to end the relationship.

The best example of Brett’s ability to function as both the initiator and terminator of her relationships can be seen in her interactions with Pedro Romero. “‘I’m mad about the Romero boy. Cohn is again clearly emasculated here as he sobs in front of a resolute Brett. it is 23 . Thus. and Brett had told him off. Brett holds the role of the initiator of the relationship by commissioning Jake to help her find Romero so that she can begin an affair with him. in Cohn’s final encounter with Brett. Her intent in finding Romero is clear in that before telling Jake that they should go and find him. In this affair. Furthermore. Much like in the previous passage. and he wanted to shake hands…. steers are castrated.Brett wasn’t having any shaking hands. I’m in love with him. “‘Cohn was crying. As Michael explains. that they often are gored by those same bulls. Therefore. Brett is the one who is in control while Cohn is sobbing and having his attempts to make amends forcefully rejected by Brett. a steer is revealed as a pitiful sort of animal that is so interested in making friends with the bulls. Brett says.‘Can’t the steers do anything?’ ‘No. They’re trying to make friends’ (Hemingway 138). while Cohn is continuing to declare his love for her and is seeking some type of contact with her. Therefore. Here. Michael’s equation of Cohn with a steer functions both to show how Cohn cannot help but follow Brett around trying to make friends and to emasculate him. Brett is being resolute in her termination of her relationship with Cohn in that she will not so much as shake his hand. I think’” (Hemingway 187). and she was telling him not to be a ruddy ass’” (Hemingway 206). In addition to behaving like a steer. here Cohn is seen as pitifully trying to hold on after Brett has evidently ended the relationship and no longer wants Cohn around. and Cohn was crying and telling her how much he loved her. Additionally.

Brett is still controlling the terms upon which the affair begins despite her protesting that she is not. All of these different displays of Brett’s power in relationships reveal that Brett finds her primary source of freedom in her complete autonomy in her affairs. It is Brett who is still pursuing Romero and employing Jake to help her.clear that Brett intends to begin a sexual relationship with Romero. “‘How can I stop it? I can’t stop things’” (Hemingway 187). this is evidenced by the fact that she can persuade Romero to leave instead of just leaving herself. For example. she herself becomes trapped by her own initiation/termination cycle. the fact that Brett makes Romero leave shows that Brett is completely in control of the terms upon which the relationship ends. and it is Brett who will ultimately make Romero leave her. Here Brett is revealed as the one who is controlling the end of the relationship in that she is forcing Romero to leave her. Instead. she is also denying her autonomy. the same moment that Brett is controlling the beginning of her relationship with Romero by intentionally seeking him out. it reveals the manner in which the novel begins to confine Brett within her sexual freedom by having her doubt her own control and thus feel merely the victim of her relationship problems. This can be seen when Jake tells her that she “‘ought to stop it’” and she replies by saying. It is worth noting that while Brett dictates the terms of her relationships and thus has autonomy over her partners. in 24 . Therefore. This disavowal of her own authority does not alter the fact that Brett is still controlling the terms upon which her relationship with Romero begins. emphasis added). in fact. Additionally. I made him go’” (Hemingway 245. Brett’s role as the terminator of her relationship with Romero is revealed in the fact that she ends the affair by making Romero leave her in Madrid: “‘He [Romero] only left yesterday.

Brett does not break from Mike because he is something 25 . “‘Mark you.’ I could feel her crying as I held her close. Brett continues to follow the cycle on the microcosmic level as she initiates a relationship with Mike only to leave him for other men. Brett seems unable to either break from Mike or to force him into breaking from her. Thus.control because she can control the terms of the relationship even as it compels her to initiate it. Thus. However. In this way. ‘He’s so damned nice and he’s so awful. on the macrocosmic level Brett does not terminate her relationship with Mike despite leaving him for both Cohn and then Romero during the course of the novel. Thus. The reason for this notable difference can then be extracted from Brett’s proclamation that Mike is “so awful” followed by the assertion that “he’s my sort of thing. at the novel’s close. She tells me all about everything’” (Hemingway 147). as Jake is finally being pushed into ending things with Brett. unlike the case with Jake. Brett’s affair with Mike further comes to highlight how Brett becomes trapped in her own cycle as she cannot ultimately break away from Mike. Brett’s relationship with Mike resembles her affair with Jake on the microcosmic level.” In other words. This is a cycle that Mike himself is well aware of as he explains to Jake. Mike knows that Brett comes to him to leave him for other men only to return to him again in a continuing cycle of initiation and termination. He’s my sort of thing’” (Hemingway 247). Brett’s had affairs with men before. after ending her relationship with Romero. but on the macrocosmic level it breaks from the model of initiation/termination in a way that begins to reveal how Brett’s power is also her punishment. Essentially. her affair with Mike is unlike her affairs with any of the other men in the novel. In fact. Brett tells Jake that she is going to go back to Mike: “‘I’m going back to Mike.

in turn feeds into her ultimate punishment. Therefore. the same cycle of initiation and termination establishes itself in the text. Furthermore.awful that she can continue to return to. Her own reasons for why she cannot break away from Mike show how Brett is trapped by her own power to control her relationships with men more 26 . the assertion that he is her sort of thing implies that Brett views herself as deserving awful. The ubiquitous presence of this model reflects how Brett’s power is expressed more in her ability to control her affairs by controlling their beginning and end than in her ability to simply debase and emasculate men. He is something that can contribute to her pain. by originating Brett’s power in her ability to control men. the ultimate break from this model in Brett’s relationship with Mike effectively shows how Brett’s power in her relationships begins to become her punishment through the fact that Brett cannot terminate her destructive affairs with men completely. this break from the initiation/termination model on the macrocosmic scale can be explained by Mike’s role in perpetuating Brett’s suffering. Brett’s power comes across as threatening to men. Like the culturally constructed New Woman. which. relates back to Brett’s connection to the New Woman. the same pattern asserts itself to at least some degree in each of Brett’s affairs. By controlling the terms of her relationships. as can be seen in this final scenario with Mike. From the clear examples of Romero and Cohn to the more convoluted examples of Jake and Mike. The fact that Brett’s power originates in her ability to control her relationships with men. Thus. Additionally. much as she cannot terminate her relationship with Mike. In all of these examples. the novel sets up the potential for Brett’s punishment and the ultimate reinterpretation of that punishment. Brett becomes dominant over the men that she has relationships with which threatens the patriarchal order.

thus trapping her in her own cycle and generating the potential for her suffering. Brett is in a perpetual cycle in which her ability to begin affairs leaves her always starting something only to end it and begin anew. 27 . While able to effectively leave some men or push them to leave her.generally in that Brett cannot ultimately break away from her own cycle of initiation and termination.

Brett shows that she cannot free herself from the very cycle in which she displays her greatest power over men.…He claims she turns men into swine’” (Hemingway 148). In other words. making Brett’s freedom come at a price. in so doing. the threat that Brett poses towards the men with whom she interacts through her connection to the New Woman creates a need for the text to neutralize this threat by containing Brett. This act of containment is achieved by turning Brett’s source of power into her source of pain.Chapter 3: Brett and Containment Brett’s connection to the New Woman and to masculine anxiety through the nature of her power generates a need for her containment in the novel. This transformation of power into suffering is achieved through that fact that Brett continually engages in relationships that ultimately result in her emotional turmoil. while the fact that Brett terminates most of her relationships imbues her with a certain amount of power and agency. Moving from man to man. Brett’s source of freedom ultimately comes to function as the means of containing Brett in the novel. In this way. returning to Mike. and. this power comes at the price of suffering as Brett continues to find herself in misery instead of satisfaction. In fact. she continually initiates relationships with men that cannot and do not reach any satisfying conclusion for Brett. As Mike relates to Jake. The connection of masculine anxiety to Brett’s power being transformed into pain can be seen in Cohn’s own assessment of Brett’s power. Here. In other words. and. in the end. “‘He [Cohn] calls her Circe. Thus. Cohn’s equation of Brett with Circe functions to reframe her power from being simply that of initiation/termination to one of degradation of the men that she has affairs with. 28 . it is Brett’s own cycle of initiation and termination from which she ultimately cannot escape.

while Cohn’s damning conflation of Brett with Circe seems to only suggest that Brett abuses the men whom she interacts with.However. or. is through the inherent flaws in Cohn’s analogy. as though thou wouldst slay her. and give entertainment to thee (Homer 367). as in his case. And she will be seized by fear. In fact. In fact. While seduction does play a part as Circe sings “with a sweet voice” (Homer 362) to lure the men into her house. and then abruptly ends the affair thus transforming men into swine. as I mentioned in Chapter 1. One manner in which Cohn’s equating Brett with Circe comes to tell more about Cohn’s own fears than about Brett’s debasing powers. Then do not thou thereafter refuse the couch of the goddess. He implies that she seduces men. a more detailed examination of the nature of the Circe myth reveals how this comment truly speaks volumes about Cohn’s fear about the nature of Brett’s powers. sex only manifests itself in the story as a means through which Circe can be overcome: When Circe shall smite thee with her long wand. steer. Cohn’s comparison suggests that Brett’s sexual affairs are what transform men into swine. just as she seduced him. 29 . and rush upon Circe. this moment is truly about Cohen’s own anxiety. that she may set free thy comrades.” (Homer 363) thus turning them into swine. then do thou draw thy sharp sword from beside thy thigh. once inside she merely drugs the men and then she “smote[s] them / with her wand. and pen[s] them in the sties. In other words. Unlike with Brett. However. a closer examination of the Circe myth allows for Cohn’s bias to provide interesting insight into why both Cohn and the novel at large seek to frame Brett’s power as corrupting. and will bid thee lie with her. it is a seduction that is unconsummated. what Cohn seems to be unaware of is the fact that in the Circe myth it is explicitly not sex that is the vehicle through which Circe turns men into swine.

the phrasing reveals that Cohn already has no agency in his relationships and that all of the agency belongs to the woman that he is involved with. her has transformed him into a swine.’” so that “‘she will not plot against thee [Odysseus] any fresh mischief to thy hurt. In the first description that Jake gives of him. Additionally. Jake does not talk about how Cohn married the first girl who was nice to him. Notably. it is Cohn’s wife who leaves him. instead. something that none of her menturned-swine do. Cohn’s statement ends up revealing more about his own bias through the fact that it assumes that Brett debases men. and not he that leaves her. and Cohn never had a chance of not 30 . Cohn’s character is already suspect long before his affair with Brett. She was very forceful. Furthermore. right from the beginning Cohn is at least somewhat emasculated in that he is taken advantage of by a woman. Cohn’s relationship with Frances is one in which Cohn is essentially kept by her: “He had been taken in hand by a lady who hoped to rise with the magazine. While Hermes does warn that Odysseus must “‘Bid her swear a great oath by the blessed gods. and then being dumped by. Here. and that sleeping with. to overcome Circe. Therefore. he notes that Cohn “was married by the first girl who was nice to him” and that “just when he had made up his mind to leave his wife she left him and went of with a miniature-painter” (Hemingway 12). Jake notes that Cohn was married by the first girl who was nice to him. In addition to the flaw in the analogy itself. Cohn’s analogy is inherently flawed in that Circe’s actions that produce swine are not comparable to Brett’s actions. the actual transformation of men into swine that Cohn refers to does not involve sex. However. lest when she has thee stripped she may render thee a weakling and unmanned’” (Homer 367).Thus. Cohn’s claim suggests that Cohn was explicitly not a swine before he met Brett. Thus. Odysseus must sleep with her.

his statement provides little valuable information about Brett’s character. his comparison of Brett to Circe is also false in the fact that Brett does not turn Cohn into a swine. The aspect of the Circe myth that directly relates to turning men into swine is marked by the use of a wand. the nature of his bias speaks directly to his own anxiety about Brett’s power. This wand functions as a phallic signifier. Essentially. 31 . Cohn’s attempt to reflect discredit on Brett is really his own attempt to contain her as a result of his masculine anxiety. but rather to take over their roles in society. Based on these flaws in Cohn’s comparison. Circe debases men by symbolically becoming a man through the phallic symbol of her wand. and it is this fear of Brett taking over masculine roles that Cohn’s comparison implicitly draws out. the only argument that can be made in favor of Brett actually turning Cohn into a swine is that his attachment to her makes the break more than he can bear. however. Here again. Thus. will use her seductive powers not to sleep with men. any emasculation that Cohn experiences happens before his relationship with Brett. Therefore. It is then from this example of Cohn’s masculine anxiety and attempt to contain Brett that the text’s attempt to also use Brett’s power to contain her can be understood. like Circe. However. Consequently. the fact that Brett is not responsible for Cohn’s emasculation suggests that his swine-like or steer-like qualities are not directly attributable to her either. Cohn is most afraid that Brett. In this way. which makes Circe’s power to turn men into swine not about sex but rather about her ability to lay claim to masculine roles. “Circe usurps the traditional masculine-aggressor’s role” (Cohen 295).being taken in hand” (Hemingway 13). In other words. Cohn is quickly taken in and ruled over by a woman.

As Mike again announces immediately following Brett’s assertion that she “‘didn’t feel badly at all. satisfying relationships. attempts to contain Brett by tainting her power through the use of it to inflict suffering upon her. unlike Brett. beginning with Cohn. Cohn’s reference to Brett as a “sadist” (Hemingway 170) functions in a similar way. This trend of Brett selecting and actively pursuing men whom she recognizes as being unable to make her happy can be seen in her affairs with each of the novel’s male characters.’” “‘Robert Cohn did. In the novel. is fundamentally more about his own fear than about any legitimate fault in Brett. This juxtaposition of Brett’s assurance that she was unfazed with Cohn’s reluctant confession that it did bother him all leading up to Mike’s announcement that Cohn called Brett a sadist. functions to reveal that Cohn’s comment is more vengeful than legitimate. In other words. Both of these examples then work to reveal more about masculine anxiety than about Brett’s flaws. As I discussed in Chapter 1.…You were quite green. like his reference to Brett as Circe. The text. This claim forces Cohn himself to admit that “‘The first horse did bother me’” (Hemingway 169). like Cohn. Not wanting to seem like less of a man than Brett. this is accomplished by having Brett’s freedom to initiate and terminate relationships ultimately lead to her suffering through the fact that she begins relationships with men that are bound to fail. cannot handle the bullfights. 32 . the text functions to set Brett up for punishment by having her knowingly chose men with whom she cannot have lasting. this becomes even more explicit through the fact that Cohen. Cohn attempts to make Brett’s fortitude seem unnatural/unwomanly and thus sadistic. Cohn’s reference to Brett as a sadist. By examining this scene in more detail. Robert’” (Hemingway 169).Similarly.

Instead. As this is the first time that Brett’s affair with Cohn is being made explicit. and Bill. Brett is again expressing no concern about the possibility of things being “a bit rough” on her during this trip. which highlights the fact that her affair with him is not designed to supplement her own happiness. Brett does not even attempt to suggest that she is having the affair for her own benefit. “‘Don’t you think it will be a bit rough on him [Cohn]?’” (Hemingway 89) in reference to Cohn going to Pamplona with Jake. Brett’s power of choosing to begin the relationship is tainted by aspects of emotional turmoil in that Brett chooses to begin the relationship not because she has any illusions of it being good for her. The fact that Brett starts the relationship without intending to gain anything from it becomes apparent later in the novel when she tells Jake that Cohn “‘can’t believe it didn’t mean anything’” (Hemingway 185). Brett continues to be more concerned about Cohn’s well-being than her own. Mike. In fact. Brett. Based upon the fact that Brett initiates the affair with Cohn explicitly for his 33 . From this start of the relationship. Here. Brett’s pursuit of Cohn also undermines her power by tainting it with aspects of her suffering. but is instead likely to occur at the expense of it. Brett explains to Jake during their conversation about Brett’s trip to San Sebastian with Cohn that “‘I rather thought it would be good for him’” (Hemingway 89). In the case of Cohn. but rather because she believes that it will be good for Cohn. implying that to her the affair was not designed to and did not mean anything. this explanation that Brett “thought it would be good for him” functions as her only stated reason for starting the affair.Just as Cohn himself attempts to undermine Brett’s power by framing her as Circe. In fact. she is only concerned with Cohn and his own feelings. she begins this conversation with Jake about Cohn by asking him. Thus.

the location of this scene in the text also functions to suggest that Brett anticipates the punishment that will follow her affair with Romero. Brett’s affair with Romero emerges as an even more explicit example of Brett entering into a relationship with the apparent knowledge that it will end with Brett’s own pain. Brett could be referring to notions of conventional morality and the fact that her running off with such a young boy flouts these moral conventions. Brett articulates her anticipation of punishment prior to her affair with Romero. it becomes apparent that Brett’s power to start this affair is bound to figure into her suffering because she is not seeking to obtain any happiness for herself. In addition to this direct articulation. This conversation with Jake falls immediately after Jake and Brett have a confrontation with Cohn. Brett is stating that her current station as a “bitch” being consumed by guilt for what she is about to do is right for her. as is the suffering that will come following the termination of her affair with Romero.own good and without any hope of a meaningful relationship for herself. Brett admits to Jake that starting an affair with Romero may not be a sound plan declaring that “‘I don’t say it’s right’” (Hemingway 188). Brett reveals that she is cognizant of the fact that the “right” thing to do is to not begin an affair with Romero. Brett tells Cohn to “‘go off somewhere’” 34 . In this statement. God knows. Thus. In this confrontation. it is also possible that Brett is referring to the fact that having an affair with Romero will lead to her own suffering. In this way. In other words. however. I’ve never felt such a bitch’” (Hemingway 188). the use of the word “right” in this sentence is particularly ambiguous. Prior to entering into a relationship with Romero. she is effectively acknowledging that she is using her power as a form of self-punishment. However. when Brett goes on to say that “‘It is right though for me.

“‘Couldn’t we live together. “‘I don’t think so. Brett’s efforts to get rid of Cohn reflect her growing irritation with his behavior following the termination of their relationship. This awareness is perhaps the most explicit when Jake asks Brett. Thus. Brett is explicit about her awareness of the ineffectuality of continually trying to begin an affair with Jake. Brett? Couldn’t we just live together?’” to which Brett replies by saying. which is emphasized by her us of the French tromper. Thus. Go on to bed’” (Hemingway 185). This notion is only further highlighted by her assurance that she would behave poorly were they to live together. You couldn’t stand it’” (Hemingway 62). with the initiation of her affair with Romero falling so closely after her confrontation with Cohn. This idea is then made 35 . go to bed. This irritation only becomes more apparent as Brett goes on to exclaim that “‘I’m so sick of him!’” (Hemingway 185) and that “‘I hate him. the discussion is founded in issues of failed relationships and the suffering that Brett endures under them. Like the case of Romero. The fact that the very next page begins the discussion about Romero functions to frame the entire conversation through this lens of Brett’s current troubles with Cohn. too…. the text effectively highlights Brett’s awareness of the emotional pain that she is setting herself up for. Brett’s simple statement of “I don’t think so” reveals that Brett is aware of the fact that she cannot be happy with Jake. I’d just tromper you with everybody. meaning to deceive or be unfaithful to (Larousse English-French Dictionary).(Hemingway 184) before going on to declare that “‘If you’re tight.I hate his damned suffering’” (Hemingway 186). a previously failed affair. With this type of an undercurrent in the conversation. Brett’s concerns about what is “right” seem to be founded in questions of Brett’s own turmoil in relationships.

this pattern continues right through to the end of the novel when Jake finally makes the break from Brett that Brett is never able to truly make from Jake. In addition to this explicit evidence that Brett knows that her interactions with Jake will never produce a successful relationship. when trying pull away from Jake. her interest in Jake’s happiness over her own implicitly suggests that she is using her power to generate punishment. but rather focuses on what is best for each of the men. on the other hand. Brett’s affair with Jake is similar to her affair with Cohn in that she does not act in her own best interest.even more explicit when Brett assures Jake that “‘I couldn’t live quietly in the country’” (Hemingway 62).Better for you. at least in this scene. In this respect. this knowledge is not enough to keep Brett from Jake as she continues to return to him in futile attempts to enter into a relationship with him. Better for me’” (Hemingway 62). In the case of Cohn. clearly articulates that knowledge and uses it to pull away from Jake: “‘I’m going away from you…. With Jake. However. Brett first notes that it would be “‘Better for you [Jake]’” if she goes away for 36 . Brett knows that she cannot have a satisfying relationship with Jake. Brett focuses on Jake’s interest over her own in her attempts to terminate the affair. this leads to Brett beginning a relationship that she does not expect to lead anywhere simply because she believes that it will be good for Cohn. As previously explored. Essentially. and. Thus. the fact that Brett knows that her relationship with Jake cannot reach a satisfying conclusion but continues to try to begin one any way reveals that Brett is using her relationship with Jake to punish herself. Brett focuses on how Jake “‘couldn’t stand it’” (Hemingway 62) if they were to live together and places her own concern that she “‘couldn’t live quietly in the country’” (Hemingway 62) after her concern for Jake. Similarly. Therefore.

as reflected through the fact that it is Mike who 37 . much like how she leaves and returns to Jake. at the end of the novel. her power to make decisions feeds into her punishment in her inability to escape the cycle that she begins. saying. In other words.He’s so damned nice and he’s so awful. Brett cannot break from her cycle of initiation and termination with Jake because she does not own her feelings about the situation. Brett also offers an explicit statement of her knowledge that her relationship with Mike will not make her happy towards the end of the novel. Throughout the novel. “‘I’m going back to Mike…. He’s my sort of thing’” (Hemingway 247). In this way. Brett also claims that Mike is “so damned nice.” In other words. Brett continual leaves and returns to Mike. the fact that Mike is an alcoholic who goes out of his way to reflect discredit on Brett. which results in her continuing to fall back into her own cycle of initiation and termination. Brett does not provide herself with a means to truly emotionally distance herself from Jake. It is in this moment of deciding to return again to Mike that Brett acknowledges that this decision will lead to her unhappiness by acknowledging that Mike is in fact “awful. Finally. By concerning herself with Jake and then molding her own desires around his. her interest in Jake feeds into her punishment in that it is Brett’s attempt to deny what she wants as a means of making things easier for Jake that ultimately keeps forcing her back into a relationship with him. Even though in this case Brett is forwarding Jake’s interests in an effort to terminate the affair. as previously discussed. Brett decides to return to Mike again.a while before noting that it would also be “‘Better for me [Brett]’” (Hemingway 62).” but what the reader has seen of Mike throughout the novel acts to discredit this assertion even before Brett goes on to qualify it with the admission that “he’s so awful.” Granted. However.

In fact. Cohn accompanies Brett to Pamplona where. In the case of Cohn. For example. as previously mentioned. The consciousness of this act is only further highlighted by her statement that Mike is her “sort of thing. but is also convinced that she deserves this punishment.For God’s sake.. Brett does not have “any shaking hands” and tells “him not to be a ruddy ass” as Cohn is “crying and telling her how much he loved her” (Hemingway 206). From this tainting of Brett’s power with punishment. in fact. Brett finally reaches a point at which she becomes rude with Cohn as a means of forcing him away from her. Considering Brett’s 38 . It is this behavior on the part of Cohn that sets up Brett’s suffering as he creates conflict for Brett. Brett snappily replies to Cohn’s assurance that he’ll “‘stay here with you [Brett]’” by saying. when Cohn fights Romero and then attempts to reconcile with Brett. “‘Oh. suggests that he is not all that nice.continually repeats every negative thing that Cohn says about Brett. don’t!. Thus. However. After ending her affair with Cohn. this is seen in her emotional turmoil while in Pamplona. go off somewhere. the ruse quickly collapses as she admits that he is. Based on this admission. Brett’s power ultimately becomes suffering as each of her relationships end in misery. awful.. Thus.” which suggests that Brett is not only conscious of how her power is being used to figure into her punishment. Similarly. Brett’s decision to return to Mike is another case of her using her power to figure into her own punishment. Brett’s statement that he is nice can be better read as her attempt to convince herself that returning to Mike is not a bad idea. Can’t you see Jake and I want to talk?’” (Hemingway 184). he behaves “like a bloody steer” (Hemingway 146). the pain that continued interaction with Cohn causes is great enough to push Brett to stop trying to protect Cohn and repulse him instead.

She saw it and smiled. Brett’s ultimate anguish has less to do with Romero’s bad behavior than in the case of Cohn. From feeling the need to repulse Cohn to direct examples of Brett’s emotional turmoil. however. the continued repetition of this proclamation reflects how concerned Brett is with the possibility that she is “one of these bitches.” and it also reflects how desperate she is to pull away from this “bitch” prototype. Unlike Cohn. Much as Brett’s affair with Cohn ends in misery. However. Romero leaves Brett after she ends their relationship. Her suffering after the end of her relationship with Romero is correspondingly focused on Brett’s view of herself as a “bitch. it is clear that Brett’s affair with Cohn only ends in her own agony. and leaned forward and took a long sip” (Hemingway 210). these attempts to end this painful association of herself with an identity as a “bitch” is only one way in 39 .” Brett continually tries to console herself with assurances that she is “‘not going to be one of these bitches that ruins children’” (Hemingway 247). From this outside assertion of Brett’s suffering. this repulsion reflects the extent to which Brett suffers following the termination of her relationship with Cohn. with Romero out of the picture. Brett is at liberty to make herself miserable by blaming herself for the failed affair. so does her relationship with Romero. In addition to Brett’s repulsion of Cohn. Also like in the case of Cohn. Brett started to lift the glass mug and her hand shook. in the case of Romero. the reality of her distress only becomes more pronounced as she shows a crack in her façade a few pages later: “The beer came.almost maternal concern for Cohn both before and after the affair. Thus. Mike provides more direct evidence of Brett’s emotional turmoil as he notes after Cohn’s fight with Romero that “‘Brett’s rather cut up’” (Hemingway 206). Here the slight shake in Brett’s hand shows just how affected she has been by Cohn.

Correspondingly. “‘Oh. The misery in Brett’s relationship with Jake is the most pronounced in the way in which their final interaction follows on the dismissal of Romero. his first interaction with Brett involves her “trembling in my [Jake’s] arms” (Hemingway 245) much like how the glass shakes in Brett’s hand. Jake…we could have had such a damned good time together’” (Hemingway 251). and Brett’s obvious agitation about it preceding this allusion to the happiness that could have been. Essentially. Essentially. this appeal to past possibilities ultimately functions to highlight Brett’s anguish by being a means through which she can torture herself about an inaccessible past. it seems as though she would be wary of starting another affair. In these ways. From here Brett goes on to have a much more noticeable breakdown as she begins to cry: “Then I saw she was crying. Much like in the case with the conflict with Cohn preceding Brett’s solicitation of Romero. Based on Brett’s current turmoil due to a failed affair. When Jake first arrives in Madrid. I could feel her crying. there is also the more direct evidence of Brett’s actions. proclaiming. However. the continued failings of Brett and Jake’s relationship throughout the 40 .which the turmoil associated with her affair with Romero is revealed. Brett’s relationship with Romero ends in the anticipated agony as is evidence by her concern with being a “bitch” and by her displays of emotion. Shaking and crying” (Hemingway 247). functions to show how this solicitation highlights Brett’s suffering. Additionally. considering Brett’s current emotional state. Brett seems unable to refrain from torturing herself over what could have been with Jake. In addition to this evidence. she ends the novel by bringing up the possibility of happiness with Jake. here the break-up with Romero. the fact that Brett has just forced Romero to leave and is suffering because of it provides a reading frame for her interactions with Jake.

at least on her own. it is through tears that Brett tells Jake that she is “‘going back to Mike’” (Hemingway 247). it reveals the misery associated with the prospect of once again returning to Mike. Therefore. her relationships with Jake 41 . the fact that Brett is seeking to return to an unsatisfying relationship following so closely after the end of her affair with Romero highlights how she is trapped in her cycle of affairs. The fact that there is a disjuncture between what Brett is claiming and what the novel has provided evidence of reveals another way in which this reference to the past possibility of happiness is. it is both Mike himself and the sense of entrapment more generally that contribute to Brett’s suffering in this relationship. like in the case of Jake. This display of emotion accompanying this promise of a return to Mike reveals the extent to which Brett suffers over the course of their relationship. Thus. In this way. In this way. Brett is more largely stuck in her cycles of initiation and termination. merely a means of increasing Brett’s misery. it is not just the prospect of returning to Mike that can be a source of misery. At the close of the novel. Additionally. Brett’s affair with Mike involves the most pain due to the fact that Brett cannot break from her cycle with Mike. on the broader scale of her interactions with Jake and Mike in the novel she fails to truly terminate the relationships. with Jake and Mike. As has been previously explored.novel suggest that Brett and Jake could not have had a good time together. Of all of these affairs. it is the prospect of being stuck in her own cycle without the power to truly liberate herself that also becomes a source of potential pain for Brett. Brett continues to start romantic encounters only to break them off and start again. In addition to being trapped in her cycle with Mike. in fact. Rather. while each individual encounter follows the cycle of initiation and termination. Essentially.

Brett’s cycling becomes significantly thematic as her source of power directly figures into her suffering via this cycling. Finally. Brett does definitively terminate the affairs.and Mike show how Brett becomes trapped by this larger cycle of initiation and termination in which she is ending her romantic encounters only to return to the same men with whom she has had unsuccessful relationships in the past. Thus. Thus. The significance of this cycling is then highlighted by Hemingway’s inclusion of an Ecclesiastes quote at the beginning of the novel where he notes that “‘The sun also ariseth. even in these relationships it is possible to see how Brett becomes trapped by a cycle in that she terminates one affair only to begin another. Brett’s connection to the New Woman creates a situation in which the text’s containment of her functions as a means of neutralizing the threat that she presents to the novel’s men. this inclusion of Ecclesiastes then functions to frame the novel in terms of this futility. and hasteth to the place where he arose’” (Hemingway 7). Here the focus is clearly on the futility of cycling as the actions fail to progress but instead merely return to the starting point again. it is while Brett is repulsing Cohn in Pamplona that she begins her relationship with Romero. For example. with Cohn and Romero. 42 . Alternatively. throughout the novel Brett becomes trapped in the cycles that she creates. and it is right after Brett forces Romero to leave that she begins to long for what could have been with Jake. In this way. the fact that Brett’s power involves her dominance over the male characters presents Brett’s power as the ideal point at which to begin to impose limitations. As I have previously explored. and the sun goeth down. However. the way in which Brett’s power becomes her misery directly relates back to Brett’s identity as an embodiment of the New Woman.

considering that this impulse to contain Brett stems from masculine anxiety. What is then important to keep in mind is the fact that the book’s mirroring of this cultural model of containment is not an inherent endorsement of it. From this presence of containment. and her overall tendency to move from one man to another reflects how she is trapped in the cycle more broadly. it is then possible to begin to understand how containment functions in the text. This can be seen in each of Brett’s relationships as she begins affairs that will not and do not result in her happiness. In this way. 43 . Brett’s interactions with Jake and Mike show how there are relationships from which she cannot make a decisive break. As Brett becomes unable to liberate herself from the very cycles that she generates. Brett’s autonomy over her affairs slowly is transformed from being her source of power to being her source of misery. Additionally. which then comes to contain Brett in the text by limiting the scope of her power. the manner in which Brett becomes trapped in her own cycle is connected to her identity as the New Woman. the book invokes this model as a means of interrogating it. Rather. as the following chapter will reveal. she creates her own suffering.

Brett’s heroic qualities can be seen by comparing her to Jake and contrasting her with Cohn. In Across the River and into the Trees. Ultimately. while also struggling to endure the physical pains of aging. and his son die in childbirth. is a unifying characteristic of Hemingway’s protagonists. Given Brett’s identity as a figure of the New Woman. a tragic figure. but rather to portray her as a member of Hemingway’s group of masculine suffers and. However. In particular. for Hemingway. examining how the novel frames this suffering indicates that the use of Brett’s turmoil in the novel is not simply a mode of punishment. Frederic Henry spends a good portion of the book in physical pain as he recovers from wounds he received in battle and ends the book in great emotional duress after Catherine. and often a combination of both. in turn. physical or emotional turmoil. Also. In A Farewell to Arms. the novel uses masculine anxiety and suffering not to condemn Brett. creates the opportunity for the novel to question the legitimacy of society’s containment of the New Woman.Chapter 4: Punishment as Suffering . it would be easy to read her containment as a construct of the novel designed to punish her and defuse the potential threat of the New Woman towards patriarchal society. In The Garden 44 . for example. which further distinguishes her pain as heroic instead of punishing. Essentially. which. his lover. The fact that suffering can be heroic is best seen by examining the roles of various Hemingway protagonists. the fact that. suffering is often heroic creates the possibility for Brett’s misery to be something other than punishing. as such. Brett emerges as a contender for being the hero of the novel in many other ways. In fact. Cantwell endures the psychological damage of having fought in the wars only to be demoted and cast aside as he gets older.

in and of itself. much as is the case with Hemingway’s other heroes. The fact that Jake’s turmoil is heroic then creates the opportunity for Brett’s own emotional turmoil to be heroic. In fact. The fact that Jake. Jake emerges as the protagonist. unlike Cohn for example. Catherine. the fact that Jake suffers both physically and emotionally becomes significant. Jake is immediately established as the protagonist. does not preclude a character from being heroic. Just as in these works. all the while torturing himself with the memories of his past relationships. it is primarily through 45 . the ubiquitous presence of suffering in Hemingway’s body of work often provides an environment for the character to become heroic through patiently enduring their pain. such is the case in The Sun Also Rises with Jake. which also results in an emotional scarring as a result of the corresponding impotence. The fact that Jake suffers so intensely throughout the novel reveals the fact that suffering. From this status as the protagonist. In fact. Jake’s physical turmoil is most directly seen in his war wound. and like the other Hemingway heroes. endures with dignity becomes a source of the heroic in the text. In The Sun Also Rises. David Bourne is put under a fair amount of emotional strain by his wife. painful death as the result of a gangrenous leg. endures a fair amount of both physical and emotional pain. instead of punishing. As the narrator. These represent only a few examples of the tendency for Hemingway’s heroes to suffer in his work.” Harry dies a slow. However. In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.of Eden. all of these examples show how it is possible to have a character suffer in a Hemingway novel without it being a situation in which the novel is trying to construct a type of punishment for the character. In fact. Jake’s suffering contributes to his heroism through his ability to endure his emotional distress.

Cohn is explicitly emasculated and punished in the text. Essentially. when Cohn is beating up Romero and sobbing. Cohn learns to box despite the fact that he does not like it because he cannot endure his feelings of “inferiority and shyness. but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness…” (Hemingway 10). in fact he disliked it. Despite her frequent references to the fact that she is miserable.Brett’s similarity to Jake that she can be seen as the hero of the text. Brett manages to retain her composure. Brett resembles Jake in that she suffers with dignity. Cohn is portrayed as someone who lacks fortitude: “He [Cohn] cared nothing for boxing. at the very least. but he also is unable to endure suffering in general. like Jake. quickly reclaim it. causing him to act like a “steer” and ultimately use his boxing skills in several fights before being removed from the narrative. things only further deteriorate as he cannot cope with his feelings after his affair with Brett. Even from his earliest introduction into the book. or. Brett endures her suffering with dignity. Brett manages to uphold her dignity when confronted with the pain that she experiences. For example. she is quick to regain her self composure by again telling Jake that “‘I won’t be one of those bitches’” (Hemingway 247). her differences from Cohn act to further highlight how the nature of her pain is heroic and not punishing. In addition to Brett’s similarities with Jake. Here. Cohn’s inability to endure his 46 . Even when Brett breaks down and cries after Romero leaves. and she was telling him not to be a ruddy ass’” (Hemingway 206). Therefore. In this way. Brett firmly repulses him instead of giving into a similar display of emotions: “‘Cohn was crying and telling her how much he loved her. in both of these examples. From this initially unfavorable portrayal of Cohn.” which shows that not only is he unable to suffer with dignity.

In this way. Based upon this negative view of Cohn. In this way. Cohn’s suffering is distinct from Brett’s in that he cannot endure the pain at all. all of Cohn’s actions become tainted. it is significant that of all of the characters. as Chapter 3 discussed. From this dislike.emotional pain results in punishment as Brett rebukes him and forces him to completely leave the story. if not more so. Cohn offers the most vehement attempts at defaming Brett. In other words. Cohn’s general demonization in the text allows the novel to frame his comments as illegitimate. Not only does Brett’s position in relation to Jake and Cohn help to frame her in the novel. In the novel. but her centralization in the text also provides evidence for her being the hero instead of the victim. It ultimately comes out so that “…the novel unequivocally sets Brett at center stage. It is Cohn. it is fundamentally about Brett. for example. it is Cohn who presents the most vocal opposition to Brett because it makes this opposition illegitimate. which creates at least the opportunity for Brett to assert herself as being just as much the hero of the text as Jake. In addition to the fact that Cohn’s equation of Brett with Circe is inaccurate and his reference to her as a sadist is an attempt to reclaim his own masculinity. thus making a strong case that she is the 47 . Cohn’s bad behavior sets up a scenario in which the reader. the most negative portrayals of Brett in the text become invalid in that they are put forth by a character for whom the novel has no sympathy. which forces the text to punish him in a way that it does not punish Brett. which provides further evidence of Brett’s pain not being equivalent to punishment. who calls Brett Circe (Hemingway 148) and a sadist (Hemingway 170). Even though Jake narrates the novel. like all of the novel’s major characters. dislikes Cohn. including his damning treatment of Brett.

Willingham argues that Brett is more the hero of the novel than Jake because she is at the heart of it. Brett provides the overriding subject of interest” (Willingham 45). this explicit initial focus only moves to becoming implicit in the finished work. This unexpected portrayal of Brett’s pain as being tragic instead of deserved then relates back to the cultural context of the novel in that it questions the societal need for the containment of the New Woman. In fact. 48 . However. Just as Bill is the only character not in love with her. Certainly. Her name is Lady Ashley and when the story begins she is living in Paris and it is Spring” (Hemingway 5). Brett is the character around whom all the others revolve. Here. “This is a novel about a lady. the very first lines of which were. these two exceptions do little to undermine the fact that every other character and every other section of the book is obsessed with Brett. Correspondingly.central protagonist as well as hero of the book. Originally. Brett has heroic elements that exist independently of her similarities to Jake and differences from Cohn. so is the fishing trip in Biarritz the only place in the novel where Brett is not a prominent figure. Hemingway opened the novel with a chapter about Brett. Perhaps even better evidence of Brett’s hero status can be seen in an examination of the novel’s original beginning. Despite the fact that this first chapter was eventually exchanged for one focusing on Cohn. This original beginning shows how Hemingway viewed Brett as the center of his own work. While Jake may be the narrator. which means that every other man in the novel is left pining after her. It is then in both Brett’s own centrality and in her comparison to Jake and Cohn that she emerges as a hero whose suffering is tragic instead of punishing. the only significant character in the novel that is not in love with her is Bill Gordon. If the novel had punished Brett as it punishes Cohn.

correspondingly. Therefore. Brett emerges as a character who endures her pain in a way that makes her suffering tragic instead of punishing. Thus. while Brett’s heroic suffering results in the text pulling away from an explicit condoning of the containment of the New Woman. makes her suffering tragic acts as a means of fighting against the response of patriarchal society to the New Woman that Brett symbolizes. However. the novel merely interrogates both Brett’s role in the text and the cultural phenomenon of the containment of the New Woman without either condoning or condemning either. Especially when compared to Jake and Cohn. the novel uses the historical tendency of containment of threatening women like Brett to set up a situation in which the same type 49 . it is at this point that the text becomes ambivalent. Essentially. As a result. Brett’s fate in The Sun Also Rises reflects a pattern of containment. the way in which Brett is the source of tragedy for Jake complicates the understanding of Brett as the heroine. The way in which Brett and Jake figure into each other’s suffering creates a situation in which it is difficult to hold both characters together as the hero and heroine. even though Brett’s misery is tragic and not punishing. However. the fact that the novel makes Brett a hero and. Essentially. Brett becomes a figure that is much more closely aligned to Jake as the hero than to Cohn whom the novel clearly punishes. the novel reflects back on its historical moment by merely questioning the blanket endorsement of the patriarchy forcing the New Woman back into her prescribed gender role. In this way then. Brett’s conflict with Jake complicates her identity as the heroine. she is not completely endorsed by the text due to her conflict with Jake.it would have effectively endorsed society’s own containment of the New Woman. but the way the novel frames Brett transforms this pattern into one of tragedy. Like the Hemingway hero.

of containment is neither endorsed nor condemned. 50 . thus calling into question the systematic containment itself through this ambivalence.

Cohn. which it does primarily through the inclusion of Cohn. bring masculine anxiety into the novel through their fear of. Mirroring the cultural context of the New Woman. like Fitzgerald. By making Dick the tragic hero and Nicole the villain. Hemingway creates a situation in which masculine anxiety can take a hold in the text. Hemingway then contains Brett by trapping her in the same cycle of initiating and terminating relationships that she creates. Unlike Fitzgerald. It is at this point that the expected conclusion would be for Hemingway to. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night picked up on themes of masculine anxiety and the need for containment of the New Woman in society and endorsed them. Hemingway remains ambiguous about his opinions of the New Woman by creating a character that is neither wholly endorsed nor completely condemned for hurting Jake as Nicole is for ruining Dick. Hemingway generates this ambiguity by adopting an explicit model of power and containment and then transforming it by making Brett’s resulting suffering heroic. Brett. it took a hold of the literature of the period in ways that attempted to contain this perceived threat. F. As this cultural trope gained prominence. However.Conclusion In the 1920s. demonize Brett and. as I have shown. Fitzgerald makes the blanket endorsement that many other readers and critics see Hemingway as making in The Sun Also Rises. By grounding Brett’s power in her use of men. However. For example. present a blanket endorsement for the containment of the New Woman. it is at this point that Hemingway moves away from completely 51 . and more explicit attempts to contain. the New Woman emerged as a potential threat to patriarchal society. and to a lesser extent Romero. Hemingway does not make this blanket endorsement. in so doing.

By connecting Brett to Jake and focusing on her centrality. Hemingway constructs her as being sympathetic in her turmoil. Hemingway complicates Brett’s role as the heroine of the novel. Hemingway transforms Brett’s suffering from the would-be-obvious conclusion of the novel punishing Brett to the surprising portrayal of Brett as the Hemingway hero. 52 .approving of society’s treatment of the New Woman by transforming the nature of Brett’s torment from punishing to tragic. by placing her in conflict with Jake. thus generating ambivalence about Brett and the historical figure that she is connected to. However.

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