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Male Characters in Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” Term Paper

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An ideal character gladly accepted by American readers as a men’s man is the one known “Hemingway hero” common among many of Ernest Hemingway’s novels. In the novel “The Sun Also Rises”, four men are evaluated as they connect in some form of association with Lady Brett Ashley, a near-nymphomaniac Englishwoman who spoils in her passion for sex and control.

Brett projected a scheme to get married to her fiancée for some superficial reasons, absolutely defeats one man emotionally and spiritually, keeps apart from another to conceive the idea of their short-lived affair and to avoid self-destruction, and refuses and humiliates the man whom she loves most greatly. Brett all relationships develop in few months, as she either accepts or rejects certain values or qualities of each man. Brett, with the help of her four love affairs as a vibrant and self-controlled woman, represents Hemingway’s standard definition of a man and/or masculinity. Each man Brett has a love association within the novel possesses different qualities and values that enable Hemingway to discover what it is to truly be a man. The Hemingway man thus portrayed is a man of practice, self-discipline, self-reliance, strength, and courage to cope with all weaknesses, fears, failures, and even death.

The supposed hero of the novel Jake Barnes, a few years back fell in love with Brett and is still strongly and uncontrollably in love with her. Unfortunately, Jake is a victim of the war, emasculated in an accident. Still, at the beginning of the novel adjusting to his impotence, Jake and Brett cannot be lovers and all efforts at a relationship that is sexually fulfilling are simply gone waste. Jake has lost all his power and desire to have sex. Brett is a passionate, lustful woman who is driven by the closest and caring act two may share, Jake’s powerlessness only puts the two in a great ironic situation, something that Jake cannot provide her. Brett is an extremely sexy woman but is rejected by the man she feels true love and admiration for. Jake has loved Brett for years and cannot have her because of his inability to have sex. It is clear that Brett and Jake’s love is reciprocal when Jake tries to kiss Brett on the cab ride home: “‘You mustn’t. You must know. I can’t stand it, that’s all. Oh darling, please understand!’, ‘Don’t you love me?’, ‘Love you? I simply turn all to jelly when you touch me’” (26, Ch. 4).

This scene indicates the hopelessness of their relationship as Jake and Brett hopelessly desire each other but realize the uselessness of further actions. Together, they have both tried to confront reality but remained unsuccessful. Jake is aggravated by Brett’s reappearance into his life and her declaration that she is miserably unhappy. Jake asks Brett to go off to the country for a fraction of period with him: “‘Couldn’t we go off in the country for a while?’, ‘It wouldn’t be any good. I’ll go if you like. But I couldn’t live quietly in the country. Not with my own true love’, ‘I know’, ‘Isn’t it rotten? There isn’t any use my telling you I love you’, ‘You know I love you’, ‘let’s not talk. Tailing’s all bilge’” (55, Ch. 7).

Brett rejected Jake’s useless effort to have some time together. Both know that any relationship beyond a friendship would be fruitless and cannot be perused. Jake is trying to adjust his impotence while Brett will not be ready to sacrifice a sexual relationship for the man she loves dearly. (Rudat, 43-68) Eventually Jake and Brett develop a new relationship for themselves, as they can not be good lovers for each other, perhaps one far more dangerous than that of mere lovers – they have become best friends. Brett’s presence is twofold pleasurable and painful this serves as a great difficulty for Jake, while Brett constantly reminds him of his handicap and thus Jake is challenged as a man. At the end of their first meeting, Jake feels miserable: “This was Brett that I had felt like crying about. Then I thought of her walking up the street and of course in a little while I felt like hell again” (34, Ch. 4).

Lady Brett Ashley becomes a challenge for weakness Jake must confront. Jake has attempted to reimburse the man he is and the first step in doing this is to acknowledge his misery. Though Brett has a lot of love for Jake, she gets involved in getting married to another. Mike Campbell is Brett’s fiancé; the third one she planned to marry after two already failed. Mike is absurdly in love with Brett and though she knows this, she still decides to marry him. Brett tired off the drifting and simply needs an anchor to rest in, which she finds in Mike. Mike loves Brett but does not solely dependent on her affection. Moreover, he knows about Brett’s affairs with other men and accepts these short affairs: “‘Mark you. Brett’s had affairs with men before. She tells me all about everything’” (143, Ch. 13). Mike appraises Brett’s beauty, as do all the other males in the novel, but perhaps this is as deep as his love for her goes. In the first scene in the novel, Mike cannot stop commenting and figure out remarks on Brett’s beauty: “‘I say Brett, you are a lovely piece. Don’t you think she’s beautiful?’” (79, Ch. 8) He constantly proposes the same question but does not make any observant or immoral comments on his wife-to-be. In fact, throughout the novel, Mike continues this pattern, once referring to Brett as “just a lovely, healthy wench” as his most deep comment. Furthermore, Mike losses self-control when he becomes drunk, making immoral remarks that exhibit his lack of respect for Brett and others.

After Brett shows interest in Pedro Romero, the bullfighter, Mike offensively bawl: “Tell him bulls have no balls! Tell him Brett wants to see him put on those green pants. Tell him Brett is dying to know how he can get into those pants!” (176, Ch. 16) Additionally, Mike cannot consider the complications of Brett and her relationships: “‘Brett’s got a bull-fighter. She had a Jew named Cohn, but he turned out badly. Brett’s got a bull-fighter. A beautiful, bloody bull-fighter’” (206, Ch.18) Despite Brett’s short love story with Pedro Romero, she would return to Mike who will no doubt openly welcome her again. Brett is the kind of woman, who can control most men, and Mike is no exception. She loosely simplifies their relationship when she explains to Jake that she plans to return to him: “‘He’s so damned nice and he’s so awful. He’s my sort of thing’” (243, Ch. 19). Mike is not difficult enough to confront Brett, but she does go on and decide to accept his simplicity anyways. Although he is self-reliant, Mike has little self-control or self-respect. Furthermore, despite his engagement with Brett, Mike betrays Hemingway’s, ideal man.

Brett’s double standards being the fiancé of one man on the other hand is in love with another disregard her. She reveals to Jake every early in the novel that she had invited Robert Cohn to go with her on a trip to San Sebastian. Cohn, a Jewish, middle-aged writer disillusioned with his life in Paris, wants to escape to South America, where he envisions meeting the ebony princesses he romanticized from a book. However, he cannot persuade Jake to accompany him and then completely forgets about this idea upon meeting Brett. Cohn is immediately enamored with her beauty and falls in love with her: “‘There’s a certain quality about her, certain fineness. She seems to be absolutely fine and straight’” (38, Ch. 5). Cohn is immature in his idealization of Brett’s beauty, as he falls in “love at first sight”. Additionally, like an adolescent, he attempts to satisfy his curiosity about Brett by asking Jake numerous questions about her. After Cohn and Brett’s short-lived affair in San Sebastian, Cohn is nervous around Jake: “Cohn had been rather nervous ever since we had met at Bayonne. He did not know whether we knew Brett had been with him at San Sebastian, and it made him rather awkward” (94, Ch. 10).

Furthermore, Cohn has feared that when Brett would come across, she would humiliate him and so he does not have the maturity to behave properly in front of Jake and his friend, Bill Gorton. Nonetheless, Cohn is proud of his affair with Brett and believes that this conquest makes him a hero. (Elliot, 77-94) When Brett appears with her fiancé Mike, Cohn believes that they are destined for one and another despite her bold coldness to him. However, it is obvious that Brett simply used Cohn to satisfy her sexual longing: “‘He behaved rather well’” (83, Ch. 9). Cohn does not understand the inconsequence of their trip to San Sebastian in Brett’s mind and has become dependent on her attention and love. In his uncontrolled drunkenness, Mike blasts Cohn: “‘What, if Brett did sleep with you; she’s slept with lots of better people than you. Tell me Robert, Why do you follow Brett around like a poor bloody steer? Don’t you know you’re not wanted?’” (143, Ch. 13)

Cohn is like a teenager, as he knowingly ignores the truth and continues to love Brett:

“He could not stop looking at Brett. It seemed to make him happy. It must have been pleasant for him to see her looking so lovely, and know he had been away with her and that every one knew it. They couldn’t take that away from him” (146, Ch. 13). Cohn has the most significant of his affair with Brett. He does not understand that Brett simply used him and that their brief relationship has no meaning to her. Moreover, Cohn cannot conduct himself with dignity and he intrudes upon people and places where he is not wanted (Blackmore, pp. 49-67).

Honestly, Cohn believes in the fact that he has slept with Brett and obsesses with her. When Brett begins to exhibit signs of interest in Pedro Romero, Cohn crazily goes to Jake forcing them to know Brett’s whereabouts, punches him in the jaw, and then calls him a pimp. Later that night he encounters Pedro and Brett together in their hotel room. His actions of knocking Pedro down repeatedly until he eventually tires demonstrate a divergence from his character. Cohn undertakes some measures in what he experiences at the beginning, despite merely thinking or complaining about it. However, despite his persistence, Pedro does not remain down. According to Mike, “‘The bull-fighter fellow was rather good. He didn’t say much, but he kept getting up and getting knocked down again. Cohn couldn’t knock him out’” (202, Ch. 17). Resultantly, Cohn ends up in this race, is knocked twice by Pedro, and loses his battle for Brett. These actions exhibit that Cohn’s boxing skills, which act as a measure of defense that he once used in college, no longer help him to pull him out of rough conditions. Cohn fails to show the strength and courage needed to face the circumstances like a man.

Pedro Romero comes closest to the embodiment of Hemingway’s hero. This handsome, nineteen-year-old, a promising matador, almost immediately enchants Brett. Pedro, a courageous personality who repeatedly challenges death in his occupation, is not afraid in the bullring and controls the bulls like a master. Pedro is the first man since Jake who causes Brett to lose her self-control: “‘I can’t help it. I’m a goner now, anyway. Don’t you see the difference? I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to do something I really want to do. I’ve lost my self-respect” (183, Ch. 16)

On the other hand, Pedro balances his self-control in 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” (185, Ch. 16) Pedro assures new pleasure to Brett who falls in love with him in the scene between Pedro and Cohn described previously, Pedro represents his confidence and strong will. Knocked. In the scene between Pedro and Cohn narrated previously, Pedro represents his faith and strong will. He has knocked downtime and time again; Pedro stands up each time declining the situation to be beaten. His managed and great behavior in an unusual situation contrasts verily with Cohn’s terror and flaw. (Strychacz, pp. 245-67)

Finally, Pedro and Brett eloped but when the demands of Pedro too much from her, Brett asks him to leave, “‘He was ashamed of me for a while, you know. He wanted me to grow my hair out. He said it would make me more womanly.” furthermore, Pedro “really wanted to marry” Brett because “‘he wanted to make it sure [Brett] could never go away from him’” (242, Ch. 19). Pedro will not tolerate his dreams for a woman and will not ignore Brett’s character even though he loves her. In his affair with Brett, he has committed as per his rules and when he examines that his ideal is impracticable for Brett to acknowledge, he leaves willingly. Pedro has been left uncontaminated by Brett, supporting his strong-willed, correct behavior. Additionally, Pedro leaves without brood like Cohn or whining like Mike.

Brett’s choice to accept or reject particular qualities in each of the four men she becomes involved with helping define Hemingway’s male hero. Mike is not reliant on Brett but does not preserve his self-esteem and self-discipline in his drunken negligence. Cohn is a bad-tempered, weak, long-suffering adolescent who has little understanding of others or himself. Pedro is the near-perfect one of strength, courage, and confidence. Jake is the minor translation of this perfection as the hero of the novel. Hence, Hemingway’s ideal hero is self-controlled, self-reliant, and fearless. He is a man of accomplishment and he does not, under any circumstances, go short in his viewpoint or principles (Nissen, pp. 42-57).

The supposed hero of the novel Jake is confronted by his misery in the deepest sense possible, and because the traditional ways in which masculinity is defined are insufficient and impossible for him. Jake desires the power and courage to deal with his weakness because he has not yet accustomed to this weakness. It is ironic that Cohn, as a character least like the Hemingway man, has slept with Brett, while Jake will never be able to perform this kind of action. Cohn so poorly performs the roles of an actual man, Hemingway involves the sexual invader of a woman does not alone fulfills the meaning of masculinity. However, Jake comes short to satisfy other perquisites of the Hemingway man as he diverges from his moral principals. Jake examines that Brett is fascinated by Pedro’s tactful control and unusual smartness and acknowledges the possibility of fulfilling her sexual desires with the most ideal case of manhood that he can offer in place of himself.

The trust of a long-time friend is thus betrayed by Jake, Montoya; fear that rising stars may be spoiled women. Regardless of his carnal impotence, Jake’s real weakness is the powerlessness of his will, and the hypothetical hero of the novel is flawed due to his failure to adhere to what he believes is right and wrong. Hemingway abstains from demonstrating a real hero of this novel. In the absence of a primary male model, Hemingway deceives the larger socio-cultural theories about men and masculinity and needs the conventional sources in which they are defined in his society.

In recent times much disrespect has been mound on the Hemingway hero. We think we know the type: a macho male always bragging about how big and strong he is. Everything he does is a test of manliness; if he doesn’t take chances, even foolish ones, he’s a coward or effeminate; if he hurts, he doesn’t cry but holds everything in. To us, there’s something funny and old-fashioned in such a caricature of a man. But like most popular images this model of a Hemingway hero is only a partial portrait. The truth is more complex. Certainly, Hemingway hated anything effeminate in a man, but there’s much evidence to suggest that his macho image was a mask that covered his insecurities about his manhood. As he became more famous he modeled his image on the tragic heroes of his books.

Who is the hero of The Sun Also Rises the query is of vital significance? You will find that Jake Barnes, the narrator, has the outline of a hero, but that he is fundamentally weak, impotent, and a party to the corruption of the true hero, Pedro Romero. When Hemingway crafts imaginary heroes like Jake Barnes, he demonstrates them in a generous glow: puzzled with worries, eventually not sure of themselves and their manhood, and unable to possess to their system of manly behavior. Hemingway’s heroes are made of flesh and bones, not cardboard; they don’t survive at the end, like Superman, but a crash in failure.

Any proof of joyful, fulfilling love in The Sun Also Rises? Hardly a trace. Jake and Brett can’t love either physically or emotionally, the two main characters. When they speak of the possibility of love, they are imagining life in another, better world. In the actual world, they inhabit, both are wounded, Jake physically, Brett psychically. Nothing can find any satisfaction or completeness in love. Robert Cohn loves, but it’s a silly, naive love predicated on storybook romances. Cohn immediately attracts Brett. As she’s part inquisitive, partly fed up, she runs off with him. What does their romance mean? For Brett it is nothing but for Cohn everything. He persists to consider against all confirmation that theirs is perfect love. He’s wrong, of course, and all the other models despise him for his sightlessness (Baldwin, pp. 14-33).

Mike is drunker and is too insecure to love, despite Brett’s fiancé. Bill Gorton picks up an American girl at the fiesta, but nothing comes of it–he’s too cynical to love. Pedro Romero, the hero of Hemingway’s a man young, innocent, passionate, and brave enough to love leaves him. He falls for Brett and wants to marry her. But Brett, knowing she’ll ruin him, gives him up. Robert Cohn launches as a central actor, whose life is full of dangers. At Princeton, he has taken up boxing as a defense measure for uncertainties of life being a Jewish. He is overmatched and gets his nose flattened, which diverts his interest from boxing and starts disliking it, but likes the power his skill can give him. No one since school age remembers him. He “was married by the first girl who was nice to him”.

The novel The Sun Also Rises is a representation of Americans wondering for new characteristics and values in a world in which old standards have been blown away by war. Jake, the basic originator is involved in Count Mippipopolous, who seems to know exactly what he wants and how to get it. But the count’s worth scheme is simply to disburse as little for as much as possible. Pedro Romero is strong in analyzing what’s right and wrong, but he doesn’t chat about it. He simply does his work completely wrestles bulls and carries out his life with love, or passion, which both Hemingway and his characters greatly admire. Romero’s affliction is as untarnished and pure as the bullfighter himself.

Characters have settled for around empty grounds of drinking and sex in Paris. Romero is different. He gets whatever he needs because he deserves it, he doesn’t need to buy pleasure. He doesn’t need to shop for love because he is part of life; he experiences it from the inside. The novel continues to affect the characters after six years of World War I. Jake’s genital wound disappointed and destroyed his hope of having a sexual life; the death of a soldier, Brett’s first true love, ruined her capacity for selfless love. Recapturing exhilaration of war character goes to Spain for bullfighting, to experience the same excitement during the war, which in turn promotes destructive moods. The fiesta more like a battlefield, it attracts the four characters to something great than the characters are themselves and makes them ignore their own meager lives.

Works Cited

  1. Baldwin, Marc D., “Class Consciousness and the Ideology of Dominance in The Sun Also Rises,McNeese Review 33 (1990): 14-33.
  2. Blackmore, David, “In New York It’d Mean I was a…: Masculinity Anxiety and Period Discourses of Sexuality in The Sun Also Rises,” The Hemingway Review 18.1, (1998): 49-67.
  3. Elliot, Ira, “Performance Art: Jake Barnes and ‘Masculine’ Signification in The Sun Also Rises,” American Literature 67.1 (1995): 77-94.
  4. Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner’s Paperback Fiction, 1954
  5. Nissen, Axel, “Outing Jake Barnes: The Sun Also Rises and the Gay World,” American Studies in Scandinavia 31.2 (1999): 42-57.
  6. Rudat, Wolfgang, “Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises – Masculinity, Feminism, and Gender-Role Reversal,” American Imago 47.1 (1990): 43-68.
  7. Strychacz, Thomas, “Dramatizations of Manhood in Hemingway’s In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises,American Literature 61.2 (1989): 245-60.
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