The Lost Generation Exposed In The Sun Also Rises By Ernest Hemingway

2130 words - 9 pages

Following World War I and the strife it brought to American culture, seemingly good times were felt by all in the roaring twenties; however, the reality is expressed through the negative happenings of the “Lost Generation.” Published in 1926, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises acts as an allegory of the time, explaining the situations of American and foreign young adults of the “Lost Generation." The journey of Robert Cohn, Lady Bret Ashley and Jake Barnes and their experience abroad in France is one of false relationships, the disparaging actions of women and the insecurity of men; moreover, the major issues of the time compile to form what people living in the 1920’s and ...view middle of the document...

As the story begins, the narrator introduces Robert Cohn, a student at Princeton who moved to Paris to attempt a career in writing. The large fault surrounding Robert Cohn is his religion, Judaism, which often created criticism; being that Cohn was a boxer, he was able to properly punish any of his dissenters. Robert Cohn was a member of one of the Richest Jewish families in New York, which allowed for a large sum of 50,000 dollars to be relinquished upon him. As life progressed, Cohn blindly married the first women who respected him, which resulted in their divorce. Following this, Cohn wrote a novel that was critically given a bad name; subsequently, Cohn moved to Paris in hopes of reviving what was a dead literary career. Most importantly, Cohn symbolizes the American way of life prior to the Great War. Indeed, it is Cohn who changes through the story in order to describe the failing pre-war status-quo. “I never met anyone of his class who remembered him. They did not even remember that he was the middleweight boxing champion.” (Hemingway 11) This quote describes the disappearance of the thought, ways and morals of the time before World War I. “Cohn’s conceit, vanity and naiveté go hand in hand with his inability to appreciate the sense of beauty of Paris and in Spain and the passion and camaraderie of the fiesta in Pamplona.” (Bloom 231) Beyond this, Cohn’s conservative approach to life shows the conservative and Victorian approach of the old America. “I’m not worried about how I’ll stand it. I’m only afraid I may be bored.” (Hemingway 165) In this quote, Cohn fears he will not enjoy the fiesta like the others; thus, Cohn is portrayed as a man of the old America afraid of the “fiesta,” which represents the ludicrous life of the “Lost Generation.” In sum, Robert Cohn is a man who experiences difficulties, just as the generation prior to the war did, and is openly timid about situations in order to show the conservative ways of the generation he represents.
Lady Brett Ashley, in a romance with Jake and in a false relationship with Cohn, acts as the quintessential woman of the “Lost Generation.” To begin, Brett lives a scurrilous life fueled by numerous relationships, excessive carousing and an excessive consumption of alcohol. While she awaits a divorce, the story depicts Brett’s life as a scandalous and “new” woman. “Entering the sphere without apology, she dares to frequent places and events previously off limits to her.” (Bryfonski 100) Recklessly and negligently, the British Socialite, Ashley, has numerous affairs; nonetheless, her true love throughout the story is none other Jake Barnes. While Brett confesses her love for Jake, she is unwilling to commit to him, for Jake is unable to have sex. Following the Great War, the roles of genders switched. (Bryfonski 98) As a result, their relationship shows the switching of gender roles, while Jake is responsible and Brett makes rash decisions as a careless female. Beyond this, Lady Brett...

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