Madam Adam: Hemingways exploration of Man in The Sun Also Rises Its really an awfully simple operation, Jig, the man said. Its not really an operation at all. Much of Hemingways body of work grows from issues of male morality. In his concise, Hills Like White Elephants, a couple discusses getting an abortion while waiting for a train in a Spanish rail station bar.
Years before Roe v. Wade, before the issues of abortion rights, mothers rights, and unborn childrens rights splashed across the American mass consciousness, Ernest Hemingway assessed the effects of abortion on a elationship, and, more specifically, he examined a mans role in determining the necessity of the procedure and its impact on his psyche and his ability to love. The Sun Also Rises continues the investigation of the morality of being a man in longer, more foundational form.
Rather than dealing with such a discrete issue as Hills Like White Elephants, the novel discusses questions of masculinity on a large scale by testing an array of male characters, each perfect in some traditionally masculine traits, with a woman perfectly designed to cut to their flaws. The three most important of these controlled experiments alance each other particularly well.
Lady Bretts treatment of Jake Barnes, Pedro Romero, and, much more briefly, Count Mippopopolous allows Ernest Hemingway to exhibit the infinite fallibility of Man as his most fundamental and important quality rather than exulting the tough-guy, ubermench cult he is often credited with popularizing.
Ernest Hemingway says he slapped Max Eastmans face with a book and Max Eastman says he threw Hemingway over a desk and stood him on his head in a corner They both tell of the face-slapping, but Mr. Hemingway denies Mr. Eastman threw him anywhere or stood him on his head in ny place, and says that he will donate $1,000 to any charityfor the pleasure of Mr. Eastmans company in a locked room with all legal rights waved.
Hemingways penchant for adventure, belief in honor, and outward male pride often manifested themselves in well-publicized scandals such as his 1937 rumble with Max Eastman. Some of his stories, like surviving on bananas and rum in the African jungle after suffering two plane crashes, have integrated themselves into American folklore.
The author seemed to live the romantic, wild lifestyle his novels reported. And Hemingway did lead an exciting lifehunting in Africa, fishing off Cuba, battling in Spain, and drinking in France. However, Hemingway killed himself in July of 1961, so he obviously found shortcomings in the commingling of fiction and reality that he created. Consequently, a reading of The Sun Also Rises that examines the failures of its male characters as a study of qualities men ought to have inevitably proves anemicall of them suffer from flaws the author purposely highlights.
Hemingway cannot deny the importance and existence of heroic acts even within a novel containing no complete hero. Rather, the defects of the men with whom Lady Brett cultivates elationships throughout the book represent the obstacles that all men must overcome as the necessary action of heroism. His story, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, follows the full cycle of this process, from the emasculation of its protagonist when his wife witnesses his flight from a lion on safari, to his murder as a result of conquering his fear.
Noticeably, though, the heroic completion of Francis Macomber who grows, awfully brave, awfully suddenly immediately precedes the death he suffers not in the fangs of his previous adversary but at the hands of his wife, societys epresentative on that plot of savannah. Jake Barnes, the narrator in The Sun Also Rises, does not clearly recount the moments that stole the physical component of his masculinity. The novel simply informs the reader of the presence of such a war injury, which becomes Lady Brett, his professed loves excuse for her incomplete attention to him.
But Jakes basic failing as a man paradoxically provides him with an increased tolerance for Brett and his ability to, somewhat objectively, relate a story about her sexual activity. Barnes also wields a cool tone before any emotional situation in completing the tough task f tracking Ashley. The man refuses any connection to an outside character deeper than drinking and banter. For instance, in Burguete he responds, Drink up, Harris, to a new fishing buddys admission, I say, Barnes. You dont know what this all means to me.
Arthur Waldhorn notes in his Readers Guide to Ernest Hemingway, what Jake offers himself is a self-study course in emotional pragmatism. In spite of his wounded sexuality and even tone, Barnes eventually reveals himself as a passionate man. He loves to read; it even settles him when he drinks too much. He contentedly travels nto the mountains to fish with his friend Bill Gorton. And his two greatest loves, Lady Brett and bull-fighting, drive the novel. Jake Barnes zeal for the bull-ring best exhibits his primary strength. Before he journeys to Pamplona, he reads any information he can find on the sport, even if it is repetitive.
Early in the novel he notes, I had the two bull-fight papers They would both have the same news, so whichever I read first would spoil the other. Jake later offers the term aficion, passion, to the readers to better explain his love: Aficion means passion. An aficionado is one who is assionate about bull-fights there was no password, no set questions that could bring it out, rather it was a sort of oral spiritual examination Such talk seems incongruent with the character of an emotional pragmatist, but Barnes never actually claims to feel the way his stoic tone sounds.
Rather, he identifies his behavior and, consequently, his mission as an attempt, to knowhow to live in, the world that allows his shortcomings. But Jakes second great aficion leads to his moral downfall. Barnes pursues his love for Lady Brett throughout the novel. His first description of the woman, Brett as damn good-looking. She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boys.
She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey, embodies the transcendent femininityplaced beyond sexuality by his words (hairlike a boys) and his limitationswhich disarms every man she meets. But even with all of her admirers Lady Brett Ashley revels in Jake Barnes claims of love for her. Barnes is sincere. In spite of his sexual limitations, he attempts to gratify at least partially her physical obsession by issing her in a taxi in their first moments alone together. However, both Jake and the reader find ambiguity in Bretts affection.
She responds, You mustnt. You must know. I cant stand it, to his attempt at compromise. Following her rejection, Barnes poses the uncharacteristic question, Dont you love me? that embodies the substance of his search in the novel. The emasculated narrator wants to discover how he must, as a broken man, receive love. His exterior notwithstanding, Jake Barnes demonstrates that he loves books, bulls, fishing, and he especially loves Brett. So as the story uilds to a climax in the chaos of the bull festival, he makes a deluded sacrifice to the only chance for reciprocation he sees.
Herein his passionate strength betrays itself as also his greatest weakness. Barnes desire for Ashley to return his love blinds him to the gratification that bull-fighting affords him. His interactions with the Pamplona hotel owner, Montoya, indicate that his true aficion loves him back. Jake recalls, He always smiled as though bull-fighting were a very special secret between the two of us. One critical reading understands this moment as part of a homoerotic subtext of the novel. But the homosexuality overtones better serve the scene as a clarification of bull-fightings ability to reflect love upon its followers than the other way around.
Unfortunately, Jakes passions prove too varied and attractive, and he soon destroys this, his healthiest relationship at the behest of Brett, his most destructive partner. Lady Brett Ashley requests that Barnes offer her Pedro Romero, a young, pure bull-fighter who carries the faith of all of the aficionados as the savior of their way of life from the perverting forces of capitalism and cosmopolitanism, from the globalism of the modern era. Jake urrenders the boy to Brett, to perversion, and loses his connection with the community.
After Romeros romance with Brett becomes public, Montoya and Barnes share no more glowing moments; the Spaniard will not even exchange a nod of greeting. Jake finds himself alone and unloved. Hemingway points out his narrators desertedness when Romero leaves Brett, and she sends to Jake for help. Her telegrams end only with her name while he signs his response, LOVE JAKE. But, in his return to Brett, Jake demonstrates that he has learned from his failure and, in that, displays his ultimate heroism and recuperation of his orality.
The final lines of the novel indicate his new perspective as a man reborn with nothing but a heightened understanding of how he must live his life. He has reconciled with his loss of sexuality and knows that he must search for gratification in unique ways, like bull-fighting, rather than in the crass sexuality intimated by a policemans raised baton: Oh Jake, Brett said, we could have had such a damned good time together. Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. Yes. I said.
Isnt it pretty to think so. The idea of Jake Barnes representing a male hero in spite of both his emasculation and the huge ethical mistake he commits in learning to handle it still seems to run contrary to the commonly-held image of a Hemingway man. Essentially, Barnes is male only in genetic code, and he even allows himself to be dominated by a woman for much of his story. However, the author often explores the disconnection of sexuality and true male morality in his work. One particularly good example of this study occurs in his 1937 novel To Have And To Have Not.
Here, he imagines an old, worried grain broker, lying aboard his yacht n the Caribbean and finding his humanity: And where he was now was lying in a pair of striped silk pyjamas that covered his shrunken old mans chest, his bloated little belly, his now useless and disproportionately large equipment that had once been his pride, and his small flabby legs, lying on a bed unable to sleep because he finally had remorse. Hemingway obviously separates physical from moral manliness in this passage. His broker is, as he quips a page earlier, well-endowed, but his penis proves useless in his quest for spirituality.
So the authors personality should not prohibit Jake Barnes’ development as a ero. Hemingway best establishes this point in The Sun Also Rises, however, with his portrayal of the nearly perfect man, Pedro Romero. The nineteen-year-old bull-fighting prodigy shares all of Jake Barnes stereotypically male qualities: his coolness, his knowlegabilty, his bravery and his ability to relate to other men. But even at such a young age, Romero also possesses the component of a man which Barnes cannot hope to achieve, extreme sexual vitality.
Inevitably, Lady Brett Ashley decides that she must sleep with Romero. Bretts desire for Romero appears so genuine that it mocks her earlier expression of raziness for Jake. When she rejects Jakes advances in the taxi early in the novel, she skirts his question of her love in stereotypical boyfriend, love-equals-sexuality, fashion. She responds, Love you? I simply turn all to jelly when you touch me. On the other hand, Ashley admits her love for Romero using the loaded word itself the day after she meets him: Im a goner. Im mad about the Romero boy.
Im in love with him, I think Ive lost my self-respect. Bretts lack of self-control, however, distinguishes Romeros task from Barnes and cheapens the young fighters heroism while aggrandizing the narrators. Life gives itself to Romero. He is beautiful, talented, and he loves his dangerous work. In far less than the normal amount of time required to master any trade he ascends to the top of the glorious profession of bull-fighting because he, never made any contortions; he remains, like his cape-work, straight and pure and natural in line.
Pedro Romeros innate talents allow him to live his life instinctually. He stays static and unchanging before any trouble, whether he must rise repeatedly under Cohns practiced jabs or stand motionless in front of a charging bull. Even when obliged to face death in the bull-ring with the weight of the boxers bruises on his face and Bretts love on his heart, Romero reacts in textbook fashion. He kills the bull, and, as Jake recalls, he did it all for himself inside, and it strengthened him, and yet he did it for her [Brett], too. But he did not do it for her at any loss to himself.
He gained by it all through the afternoon. He does no wrong. Pedro Romero even maintains his composure during his first encounter with Brett: He felt there was something between them. He must have felt it when Brett gave him her hand. He was being very careful. That night, he sleeps with her. Romero accomplishes the task which Jake can never match, but he conquers a smitten Brett whereas Jake would have to deal with a calculating woman. However, though all of the bull-fighters successes would challenge a normal man, such as Jake, Romero exists as a god on earth.
When nature, Cohn and Brett, flaw him, Pedro succeeds with even greater glory. Hemingway creates in Romero an acknowledged idol who, had the greatness, but did not earn itrendering his heroism either synthetic or fleeting. In his essay on The Sun Also Rises, Arthur Waldhorn theorizes that Romero has simply not met his challenge yet. He refers to Romeros battered bullfight, noting, moments before Romero thrills the crowd, the aging, fistula-plagued matador Belmonteonce as stirring in the arena as Romero, now a silent harbinger of Romeros futuredraws catcalls for his cautious handling of the bulls.
If Pedro Romeros destiny contains such indignity, such emasculation, then he will fall to humanity, like Jake, Belmonte, and, the first man, Adam, and then he will receive his opportunity to become a hero. Romero cannot become a man until he opes with an unfair obstacle to his life and his morality. Consequently, the storys end presents even flawed Jake Barnes as a more complete man than Pedro Romero. When Brett gives Romero trouble after they run off together, he leaves willingly and strongly. Jake, on the other hand, finally finds himself able to master the woman in the novels final scene.
With this cycle, the author seems to assert that, at one point, all men are perfect, and all men suffer such injuries as give their lives meaning and heroism. The only other man in The Sun Also Rises able to manipulate Brett, Count Mippopopolous, provides an ultimate nd-point, beyond Barnes resurrection, to this sequence of growth from Pedro Romero to Jake Barnes. The count is older and wounded (by arrows no less) as badly or worse than the others, but he still finds himself able to enjoy Lady Bretts company without being overwhelmed by her.
He has already become a man by the early chapters, as evidenced not only by Ashleys readiness to tell him, I love you, count, but more by his quick retort, You make me very happy, my dear. But it isnt true. Count Mippopopolous foreshadows Jakes development during their conversation with a bit of seemingly trite isdom that the narrator initially disregards as part of the common idiom of old men. Barnes cannot know that the counts assertion that, it is because I have lived very much that I can enjoy everything so well That is the secret.
You must get to know the values, will form the moral of the rest of his tumultuous summer. Ultimately, The Sun Also Rises represents every mans bildungsroman in the persons of Jake Barnes, Pedro Romero, and Count Mippopopolous. Ernest Hemingway undertakes the enormous task, required of all great Christian authors from Dante, Spenser, and Milton on, of recreating the all and resurrection of man. The simple-minded, quasi-romantic conceptions of the Hemingway hero and the emptiness of being so loosely applied to characters and ideas within the novel robs the text of much of its impact.
Rather than lolling in the shallow boozery of the so-called lost generation, which the author himself enshrines in The Sun Also Rises inscription, he advocates a search for meaning as the route to male heroism. Hemingway does not create impossible idols as forbidding reminders to give up on life, just as he does not leave Steins, You are all a lost generation, alone at the front of his book. Instead he follows the sad quotation with an ever-hopeful passage from Ecclesiastes which notes the cyclical nature of all things in creation and bears him his title.
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever The sune also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return.