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Ernest Hemingway and Symbolism

Ernest Miller Hemingway is a well-known American author who wrote in the twentieth century. He has written several novels such as, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. The Sun Also Rises was finished on April 1, 1926 and was published in October of 1926 (Selkirk 96, Bruccoli 75). The Sun Also Rises was Hemingway’s expression of his own life. He had changed the names of his friends and some of the details, but the real identities of the characters were obvious to anyone in Paris (Selkirk 92).

The Sun Also Rises encapsulates the angst of the ost-World War I generation, know as the Lost Generation. This poignantly beautiful story of a group of American and English expatriates on a sojourn from Paris to Pamplona represents a dramatic step forward for Hemingway’s evolving style. Featuring Left Bank Paris in the 1920’s and brutally realistic descriptions of bullfighting in Spain, the story is about the flamboyant Lady Brett Ashley and the hapless Jake Barnes (Wilson 4).

Ernest Miller Hemingway is an American author who has penned several novels and short stories; one of his works is The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois. Hemingway was raised with the conservative Midwestern values of strong religion, hard work, physical fitness and self-determination; if one adhered to these parameters, he was taught, he would be ensured of success in whatever field he chose (Wilson 1). As a boy, he was taught by his father to hunt and fish.

When he wasn’t hunting or fishing his mother taught him the finer points of music. Hemingway never had a knack for music and suffered through choir practices and cello lessons, however the musical knowledge he acquired from his mother helped him share in his first wife Hadley’s interest in the piano (1). Hemingway received his formal schooling in the Oak Park public school system. In high school he was mediocre at sports, playing football, swimming, water basketball and serving as the track team manager (1). He also worked on the school newspaper called the Trapeze.

Hemingway graduated in the spring of 1917 and instead of going to college the following fall like his parents expected, he took a job as a reporter for the Kansas City Star (Hemingway preface). Hemingway signed up as a volunteer ambulance driver for the Red Cross during WWI (Wilson 2). He was accepted in December of 1917, left his job at he paper in April of 1918, and sailed for Europe in May (2). When Hemingway returned home from Italy in January of 1919 he found Oak Park dull compared to the adventures of war (3).

With a letter of introduction from Sherwood Anderson, Hemingway met some of Paris’ prominent writers and artists and forged quick friendships with them during his first few years (4). Counted among those friends were Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, Max Eastman, Lincoln Steffens and Wyndahm Lewis, and he was acquainted with the painters Miro and Picasso (4). Hemingway was inspired to write ifferent works at different times because of the events that occured in his life. Hemingway died July 2, 1961, at his home, as the result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Ernest Hemingway had a different style of writing than the other authors in his time. “The Sun Also Rises is the book that established Hemingway as a literary force and it introduced the world to the Lost Generation” (Wilson 5). The Lost Generation is referred to as the disillusioned that fought in the war. “Two of the novel’s main characters, Lady Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes, typify the Lost Generation” (1). “This ook has a lot of thematic issues, but the reader really needs to think to be able to pick up on all of them” (2).

Friendship, stoicism, and natural grace under pressure are offered as the values that matter in an otherwise amoral often-senseless world (1). “His mind is set on writing only” (3). The only thing Hemingway thought about was writing and finishing The Sun Also Rises. “The writing is as strong and powerful as a swift kick to the head” (4). This quote is referring to Hemingway’s strong and complex style of writing. “Hemingway writes about the dreariness of everyday life but it is interesting at the mphasis on drinking during the age of prohibition” (3).

The only failing is that the messages he delivers are a little empty in that we know he delivers them in a way that we like (4). His morals are hard to understand unless you can achieve his state of mind. The main characters of the novel are Jake Barnes, Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn, and Pedro Romero. While the characters are realistically drawn, each has a sort of representative quality that defines his or her relationship with the group and with the age in which the novel is set. Jake Barnes has his war wound, which robs him of the ability to have sex hough not the desire; he is capable of survival and communication though not regeneration.

Robert Cohn’s Jewishness marks him for exclusion and underlines the snobbishness of this circle even in its apparent informality. However, he is alienated more by his stubborn chivalry and romanticism, expressed in his constant seriousness and his obsessive attachment to Brett. Brett is the promiscuous femme fatale; Mike is the indiscreet alcoholic; Bill Gorton is the perceptive joker (who makes the sustained reference to stuffed dogs). The overall plot concern of understanding is summarized by he minor but important character of the count:” That is the secret.

You must get to know the values” (Hemingway 60). He has searched for meaning all of his life and has found it in understanding the values. Most of the other characters have yet to find the values. Jake is still stuck in the past, unable to get beyond the permanence of his war wound. Yet, he can still envision of future with Brett. Brett, who will always remain in her conquests’ memories, is trying to forget herself in drink and meaningless sex. In spite of this, she can clearly and accurately visualize the improbability of any future with Jake. One of the ain themes of The Sun Also Rises is impotence.

Not only Jake’s physical impotence, but also the powerlessness of the bull in the face of its imminent cruel death, the characters’ barrenness of emotion and lack of sensitivity, their ineffectiveness, alcoholism, and failure to work out some sort of meaningful “personal philosophy” and an “exhausted cynicism”. Hemingway shows war wounds as the destroyer of love: Jake pursues love without sex and Brett pursues sex without love. Other themes found under the umbrella of impotence are: lack of family, rootlessness, nihilism, and alienation, being from somewhere else and being cut off from the past.

It is the cyclical nature of the novel, heralded in the second epigraph (from Ecclesiastics): “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever . . . The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down . . . All the rivers run into the sea . . . unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. ” The Sun Also Rises was Hemingway’s best-selling novel and is still a popular book today. The Sun Also Rises was about the events that were taking place in Hemingway’s life. The Sun Also Rises can be related to real life by accepting the fact that it was written from a man’s real life experience.

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