"The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway; discusses aimlessness caused in lives of characters by WWI

Essay by supergirl445 February 2004

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In Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, the narrator, Jake Barnes, describes Robert Cohn, a rich Jew who graduated from Princeton with low self-esteem, an unsuccessful marriage, and a vanished inheritance. Cohn moves to Paris to write a novel and is accompanied by a manipulative woman named Frances. After selling his novel in America, Cohn returns to his former home with an attitude of arrogance and a hunger for excitement, and frequently pesters Jake.

The Sun Also Rises documents the people who came to be known as the "Lost Generation," a generation of broken dreams and destroyed naivete emerged from the World War I with an outlook blemished by bitterness and aimlessness. Jake and his companions begin to spend their time drinking and partying away their defeats, exemplifying a generation physically and emotionally wounded from the war.

Jake and his acquaintances become disillusioned. The War destroyed the long-established concepts they'd always modeled their lives on-- loyalty, honor, and integrity.

Without these beliefs, the men and women affected by the war began to rely on irrelevant and escapist activities to fill the void left by the beliefs that had previously given their lives meaning. Their lives become seemingly aimless, without a belief in any solid notion or a psychological or moral purpose.

Most of Jake's friends are alcoholics. To these people, drinking is a way to escape the harshness and reality of the war. It numbs Jake and his friends to a bitter realization that their lives now lack purpose. Hemingway, however, implies that their drunkenness does nothing but exacerbate the psychological and emotional turmoil from which Jake and his companions are already suffering.

While Hemingway never actually states that Jake and his friends' lives are aimless, the concept is alluded to through his illustration of their psychological...