The “Great War”, which the world’s first global conflict centered in Europe, saw the Central power: Germany, the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary and against the Allied forces of Great Britain, the United States, France, Russia, Italy, and Japan. With the vast improvement in modern technology, this warfare resulted in unprecedented destruction, of more than 9 million soldiers had died by the end of the war in November 1918. The optimism that preceded the century was abandoned and became bleak, filled with a despairing attitude towards on life, was assumed after people had experienced the brutality of warfare.
Postwar disillusion in Europe resulted in the rejection of the institutions and ideologies that plunged the continent into the worst of all wars; they were sent adrift in hopelessness. Faith in governments, religion, and society was reduced significantly, and it was this atmosphere that dominated the entire continent. These problems are quite evident in Ernest Hemmingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”, it depicts what the lives of the expatriates were after the war. The book, which presented an intense portrait of the modern world through an emotionally disfigured group of American expatriates living in France and Spain during the years mmediately following World War 1. ” (Banach 36) The story is about Jake Barnes, a war veteran , who has been marred by the horrors of the war physiologically and physically. The war has left him broken, but his brokenness stems deeper as his unrequited love for Lady Brett Ashley goes plunges him into despair.
He drinks a lot to avoid the torment of not being able to be with Lady Brett Ashley. Lady Brett Ashley is an accurate representation of the modern women her hair has been cut short, and she is sexually promiscuous, even though she loves Jake, her reason for not being with him, his because he cannot ulfill her sexual needs and desires. Moreover, also, she is engaged to hard-drinking Mike Campbell. Robert Cohn, a Jew, is also in love with Brett and falls to pieces prey to cruel and petty behaviors from Jake and his friends.
Bill Gorton, also the heavy drinker and war veteran, uses humor to deal with ongoing issues of the war, he also Jake best friend. World War I undermined the traditional beliefs about morality, faith, and justice. The confidence in traditional beliefs that gave life purpose, for the men and women who were involved in the war became psychologically and morally lost, which resulted in them andering aimlessly in a world that seemed meaningless. Jake, Brett, and their acquaintances give a fascinating life to the situation.
Because the traditional beliefs have crumbled they no longer believe in anything, their lives are useless. Instead to escape this void most of their time is spent drinking, dancing, and debauchery. “Through dynamic characters, such as Jake Barnes, Robert Cohn, and Lady Brett Ashley, Hemingway can demonstrate the enormity of the effects of World War 1. ” (Banach 36) Characters in the novel show a sense of being “lost” which is represented in the characters Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley, who teaches the lost morals of the lost generation.
The Sun Also Rises novel, whose title is taken from Ecclesiastes 1:5, captures fallen humanity in a moral dilemma: “Chronicling the deepest psychological effects of the war and presenting a hauntingly candid look at a society struggling to redefine itself and reconsider its value in the conflict’s unsettling aftermath,” (Banach 36) as a result man attempts to find reason and try to make sense of a world that is seemingly stripped of complete truth. There is no God throughout the novel to speak of or speak to- at least not an obvious one- or any other overeignty placed above man except that which comes from the man himself.
It is the lack of God that troubles the main character Jake, hence seeing wanting a greater desire for life’s meaning. Jake Barnes, the protagonist of the story, gives a first- person narration of the story. Jake is wounded in various aspects physically, emotionally, and spiritually-his experience in the Great War has left him physically impotent and somewhat strips him of his sexuality. Jake is in love with Lady Brett Ashley, who despite her love for Jake resists being in a relationship with him because of his sexual impotence, and not wanting to live ith him because she scared her own infidelity.
Throughout the Sun Also Rises we see Jake Barnes in moral limbo. ” World War 1 and the staggering amount of injury, death, and loss it inflicted on the generation that fought in it threw into question With the destruction of the traditional value systems, Jake tries to find new meaning to life traditional notions of love and romance, challenged religious faith and raised moral issues. ” (Banach 37) Barnes is described as a lapsed Catholic, who does regular prayers for solace but there is no personal in belief in God anymore.
Michael S. Reynolds reiterates, “Nor do religious belief sustain or give guidance to any of the characters. As noted earlier, Jake is a nominal Catholic, but his church has not been much help to him in coping with either his particular condition or with the world in which he lives. ” (Reynolds 67) We see Jake expresses is moral belief with others “I was a little ashamed and regretted that I was such rotten Catholic, but realized there was nothing I could do about it, at least for a while, and maybe never, but that anyway it was a grand religion, and I only wished I felt religious, and maybe I would next time. (Hemingway 97) We see as time progresses Barnes dilemma as he later states he “does not care what it was about. All I wanted to know was how to live. ” (Hemingway 152) Jake cares not for meaning but social functionality. Jake can be classified as being a part of Gertrude Stein “lost generation,” the generation of men and women whose participation in World War I destroyed their belief in objectivity, morality, masculinity, and love.
Without these foundations of truth acting as a guide, the Lost Generation lives without purpose, unprincipled existence, lacking true emotion. These people lack the skills and the sanity to break their ddiction to self- sufficiency and their negative loop of unmanageability. Instead, they seek refuge in broken relationships, in changes of scene, in drunkenness and the illusion that, however, meager, they can find some pleasure in their brief interludes of time and place. ” (Djos 140) Jake’s character represents the Lost Generation and its unfortunate repercussions: he rambles throughout Paris, from bar to bar and in a drunken stupor, his life filled with purposeless immoral activities. He demonstrates that he capable of being incredibly cruel, especially toward Cohn.
Jake shows no pity for Cohn hen he learns about, his current girlfriend, Frances Clyne, who is very manipulative and treats Cohn very poorly. “I rather liked him, and evidently she led him quite a life. ” (Hemingway 15) When Jake learns about Cohn’s love Brett he remarks, “I have never seen as a man in civil life as nervous as Robert Cohn- nor as eager. I was enjoying it. It was lousy to enjoy it, but it felt lousy. Cohn had a wonderful quality of bringing out the worst in anybody. ” (Hemingway 104). Even though Jake as the preconceived notion that Cohn as done him wrong, it is Jake that as wronged Cohn as a friend.
Jake is unable is express his emotions, when he comments, “I was blind unforgivingly jealous of what had happened to him. The fact that I took it as matter, of course, did not alter that any. I certainly did hate him. ” (Hemingway 105) The impotent Jake is in a state of uncertainty because he is no longer aware of what is morality. One night when he is left alone, he questions what is morality, “That was morality, things that made you feel disgusted afterward. No that must be immorality. ” (Hemingway 152) Stemming from the examples throughout the novel we see Jake as an indecisive moral character.
Likewise, we also see Jake ethical problems in the way he treats Lady Brett Ashley. ” None of these people seems to have any real understanding of the meaning of love or friendship- in the deepest sense of the world. In the case of Jake and Brett, both are inclined to either to deny that they have any connection or to define the relationship in fanciful terms. ” (Djos 145)He feels dejected that he is not able to please her, so he allows her sleep with other men, though he is not comfortable with the situation, he knows he cannot fulfill his needs.
One example of this is when Jake coerces Brett onto Romero after she slept with Cohn “Indeed, the whole confluence of events now points to the social meaning of Jake’s wound, so has Brett reduced him to a slavish pimp. When she asks for his help in her affair with Pedro, Barnes has no integrity to rely on; he can only serve her as Cohn has served her, like a sick romantic steer. ” (Spilka 42) Jake is trying to ensure that Brett is happiness, even if it betrays the trust of his Montoya: who is protected of Pedro Romero, against the corrupting influences of the tourist.
Brett is an explicit representation that the traditional systems as fallen apart, she is a fierce and independent woman, ho like short hair, which is symbolic of the generational gap. “In other words, the sexual androgyny represented by the characters in the novel has its basis in gender- women act and even dress in a masculine manner, and men possess characteristics typically identified as feminine- and their androgyny performs as a representation of a larger cultural condition tangled up in the postwar spirit of uncertainty. (Banach 37)
She exercises control over her social group, which is predominantly men. Her radiance and charm seem to pull everyone towards her. ” In the gap of meaning that opened after World War 1, the female role was undergoing a ransformation in the modern consciousness from passive, the private creature to avid individualist in pursuits of new experiences. “(Martin 49) Moreover, seeing the effect she as on her counterparts she refuses to commit to anyone, delighting herself in her independence.
However, her freedom comes at significant cost, as it doesn’t make her happy. ” No longer did she define herself as a domestic being… the new woman rejected traditional feminine ideals of purity, piety, and submission. Instead, she insisted on reproductive freedom, self- expression and a voice in public. ” (Martin 50) She tends to onfide in Jake about how unhappy she is- to her; her life lacks satisfaction and as a result, it’s aimless. Her rambling from men to men juxtaposes Jake and his friends’ going from bar to bar.
Even though she will not commit she seems afraid of being by herself, Jake remarks, “She can’t go anywhere alone. ” (Hemingway) Like World War I, Jake and his friends aren’t the only affected by the war, we see Brett changed as well. The war for many veterans left many scars, for Brett, it was her true love, which died. Her subsequent wandering, when it comes to men, can be seen as her search for the love that she lost. Symbolically, Brett’s personal search for love is that of the Lost Generation’s quest for the broken prewar morals of love.
The Sun also Rises raises questions of the role of God and how he gives life meaning. In the final scene between Jake and Brett, she says, “You know it makes one feel rather good deciding n to be a bitch. It’s sort of what we have instead of God. ” To which Jake replies, “Some people have God. . Quite a lot. ” (Hemingway) One of the most troubling scenes yet is when, Brett asks Jake that they go to church because she wants to pray for Romero, but she soon becomes comfortable and wants to leave.
These characters may have failed God, but God’s church has also failed them. (Reynolds 67) It is here she asks Jake to do her penance because she is unable to. This shows how morally bankrupt the Lost Generation were, that the sight of being in a church makes you uncomfortable is symbolic of their lost hope in God. “An entire generation underwent an overwhelming loss of innocence, making it impossible for them to continue living as they had before the war.
The changes were of such great significance that they were manifested in people’s everyday behavior and appearance, with the war affecting the very way people identified themselves. Banach 37). The characters Jake and Brett aren’t really to be blamed for their actions they are just trying to find hope in the world that denied them because of the war. Conclusively, even though the Lost Generation seems like they are pummeled off a cliff. Jake does offer to the group of expatriates has he his cognizant of the problems he has, and he his astutely trying to fix them. One would someone pity the situation of the Lost Generation because the Great War changed them into a person that before entering the war they never thought they would be.