A sensationalist view of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.
In my journalism lecture, we spent some time discussing the topics in the news that most people like to hear about: violence and sex. Coincidentally, Jake Barnes is an expatriate French Journalist whose documented adventures in Earnest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises
, are intertwined with the themes of brutality and the destructive force of sexuality.
In the novel, everything is painted as reaction to the dilemma of the war how the major characters of the novel are affected physically and psychologically, engaging them in incredible consumption of alcohol and continuous travelling from place to place (Cubism in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises
). Jake’s involvement in World War I left him with the emotional strain of having to cope with the blood and tears shed during that violent time, as well as the physical scar of impotency. The latter plays a role in the overall destruction of the most significant relationship in the novel, that between Jake and Brett Ashley. Jake and Brett share an unequivocal love for each other, but Brett refuses to advance the relationship due to Jake’s inability to satisfy her sexual needs. Despite her devotion to Jake, Brett travels from man to man in order to fill this void.
Jakes Friend, Robert Cohn, also faces relationship issues in the novel. Having been with his girlfriend Frances, who he no longer wishes to marry. Frances tries to create reasons for why Cohn doesn’t want the commitment, saying “he wants to go back to New York alone, and be there when his book comes out so when a lot of little chickens like it. That’s what he wants” (55). She later decides that the reason Cohn won’t marry her is because he’s always wanted a mistress, and if he marries her, the romance will be gone (58). In the beginning of the novel, Cohn clearly makes it known that he wants to live his life while he still has the chance (18). Making sure that his life is fulfilled in a sexual aspect can possibly be included in this idea. Cohn later finds himself to be immensely interested in Brett, being attracted to both her beauty and demeanor. Brett tells Jake that she is going to San Sebastian to spend some time away from him before her fiancé returns. Unbeknownst to Jake at the time, Brett travels with Cohn, causing Jake to become jealous, and Cohn even more sexually attracted to Brett. Later in the novel, Michael, Brett’s fiancé, becomes increasingly annoyed with Cohn’s attachment to Brett. With a mixture of Michael’s constant taunting, alcohol, and jealousy, Cohn reacts out of rage and commits a violent tirade against both Michael and Jake.
To get away from the madness of his life in Paris, Jake and his friends traveled to Pamplona for the bullfights, for Jake was an aficionado
for the sport (136). This once again shows the impact of violence on the novel. The group was awe-inspired by the incessant danger of the fighting. Brett became fixed on not only the bulls, but the fighters as well. As Jake describes, “Romero was the whole show. I do not think Brett saw any other bullfighter…It was all Romero” (171). The way in which Jake accounts Romero’s movements in the bullfight is also quite passionate, shedding a sexual light on the fight, and furthermore exemplifying how violence and sex can easily be mixed.
it turns out, Brett ends up having a sexual relationship with Romero, which ultimately allows her to go through a momentary lapse of self-discovery. She realizes how authentic Romero is as a person and how falsely she has been living her life. In the last page of the novel, Brett comes to the clear realization that if it weren’t for her jaded perception on life, she and Jake could have lived a great life together. It can be then said that Bill was right when saying “sex explains it all,” (121) although it was the sex, booze, and violence that destroyed not only Brett’s, but her friend’s chances as well, of true happiness.