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Art of Living in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Art of Living in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises | MA Thesis TU

Dot Nepal presents analysis of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children.

Ernest Hemingway | A Brief Introduction

Using traumatic war experience Hemingway wrote famous novels like The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929), which made him famous American novelist. The Old Man and the Sea, a short poetic novel about a poor, old fisherman won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1953; the next year he received the Nobel Prize. After gaining Nobel Prize for literature, Hemingway rose as a shining star among the literary writers of the nineteenth century. His writings are deeply rooted in the theme of war, violence and inability of humans to control the misfortunes caused by war, violence and terror. Discouraged by a troubled family background, illness, and the belief that he was losing his gift for writing, Hemingway shot himself to death in 1961. He wanted to find the meaning of life in adventure and struggle. His sympathies are basically apolitical and humanistic and in this sense he is universal.
In Paris he met the prominent literary figures of the age like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Sherwood Anderson. He was greatly influenced by them. He was much influenced by Ezra Pound because his style of writing is closely related to the style of Pound. We can also see the impact of Tolstoy on Hemingway. He is much influenced by Tolstoy in terms of dealing with the theme of war, death and violence. Richard Roland and Malcolm Bradbury comment about Hemingway’s writing as, “war was his natural subject, and in reportage and the later fiction he strove to express his view of it. He had become a soldier, writer, a heroic-stylist” (307). In his short stories Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923) and In Our Times (1924) Hemingway presents wartime violence as in his novels The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, where he dramatizes the plight of tragic wounded stoic heroes. His characters are not dreamers but tough bullfighters, soldiers, and athletes. If intellectuals, they are deeply scarred and disillusioned.
Hemingway wrote many novels and short stories. Hemingway’s prominent works include The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), Death in the Afternoon (1932), To Have and Not (1937), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1939), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), Across the River into the Tree (1950), The Old Man and The Sea (1952). These works establish Hemingway as a prominent figure in the literary canon. The brief introduction of his literary trend from where his literary career began is presented herewith.
In 1924, Hemingway published an important work called In Our Times. It is a collection of short stories, which contains war, violence, grief, suffering and bullfighting and other adventurous tasks in which he was interested too much. He was one of those writers who sought the identity of life at the stake. He depicted the contemporary heroes of war, the despair, and defeatism of the age and meaninglessness of life. He had his own words, which provided him the subject matter. Nick Adams, the protagonist of the short stories resembles the heroes of his other fictions. Nick Adams’ life closely resembles with his own life experiences. The stories published In Our Time are autobiographical. Throughout his works, Hemingway uses the complex connection between journalism, non-fiction and fiction. Journalism for him became bridge to connect the world of fictional writing to the world of factual writing. In 1926, Ernest Hemingway published two books. The Sun Also Rises and The Torrents of Spring. The Sun Also Rises became his first successful and finest novel. The novel presents the lost generation who are alienated by World War I and self anaesthetized with eating, drinking, travelling, brawling and lovemaking.

Art of Living in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

The characters of the novel are all alienated, fragmented, hallucinated and make an attempt to get rid of such problems. The core reason of their fragmentation, hallucination and alienation is the effect of World War I where the Americans fought bravely with their enemies. After the war was over, they were completely neglected by society, government and state; which ultimately created a sense of alienation in them. The negative effect of war upon the characters caused mental problems like malaise and maladies. The characters lost their connection with their relatives, soil and ultimately with their nationality. The indifference of the U.S. government has become the major cause of their trauma and the characters are challenged to exist with problems and pathos.

The life of the characters has become hard because they lost their work and are living a life without job— their property has been seized, their ancestors, relatives, friends  have been killed in the war. The characters in the novel are the survivors of the war. Now, the challenge has come in front of them to sustain their life with their fragmented mind, physically wounded body and broken heart. The characters feel now all alone with unidentified identity and glory. The characters do not find other compensation than regret on what they did. But, as the existentialists believe in their existence through struggle, the novel corresponds with the hypothesis of existentialism.

Jake Barnes, the protagonist of the novel makes an attempt to sustain his life through different techniques. At the beginning of the novel, Jake narrates the events of the novel. But when his turn comes to speak with Robert Cohn after returning from America, Cohn offers him to visit South America. Jake refuses to go to South America. He says, “I don’t know. I never wanted to go. Too expensive. You can see all the South Americans you want in Paris anyway” (8). Jakes disagrees on going to South America. Jake wants to sustain his life by making less expenses. He is cautious on spending money because South America is too expensive. On the other hand, Cohn, who earned much money by writing novels, tries to make Jake be in his company. Cohn also says that he will handle the expenses of both of them, “No; listen Jake. If I handled both our expenses, would you go to South America with me? ‘Why me?’ ‘You can talk Spanish. And it would be more fun with two of us.” (8). Regarding the novel and the perception and denial, John Atherton writes, “Jake, however, is not Molly Bloom and Hemingway rarely allows his protagonist’s mind to wander; continuity in The Sun Also Rises depends not on a train of thought but on a train of perception, which is another way of saying that the itinerary functions here as a form of discipline, that the route is a means of access but also a form of denial” (205).  Jake refuses his offer because Jake has to work to make his existence easier. Cohn wants Jake to be in his company as he knows how to speak Spanish too. Jake and Cohn discuss about their existence in the earth. Cohn seems to be much afraid of his life as he says:

‘Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?’

‘Yes, every once in a while.’

‘Do you know that in about thirty-five years more we’ll be dead?’

‘What the hell, Robert’, I said. ‘What the hell.’

‘I’m serious’ (9)

The entire conversation shows that despite their existence in the earth, they are more engrossed with their passed age and future. Here, Cohn is much serious for his life is half-passed in vain. Presently, Cohn finds no meaning of life and wants to enjoy life. But on the other hand, being cautious of his economic condition Jake stands passive on the subject of going to South America.

Cohn’s attempt to escape from the present life is not favoured by Jake. Jake tells that there is no escape from the problems— Jake finds problem everywhere and he opines that one cannot escape from going here and there. He says, “Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.” (9). Cohn further stresses on his argument but Jake says nothing change will occur in them after they go to South America. Jake considers the present place as good. He says, “South America hell! If you went there the way you feel now it would be exactly the same. This is a good town. Why don’t you start living your life in Paris?” (9). Jake being conscious of his mind and does not want to change the place. But, Cohn who earned a lot of money seems to be searching a place to spend his money. Cohn who makes more money wants to exist in the world having fantasies and travelling.

After the conversations were emptied Jake goes to his office. His going to office makes a sense that he is somehow managing to make his life possible. Jake earns to make his living possible by writing. Jake and Cohn went to Jake’s office where Jake works and Cohn sleeps until Jake wakes him up. Jake tells, “He sat in the outer room and read the papers, and the editor and publisher and I worked hard for two hours” (10). The hardworking of Jake makes a point that somehow Jake is doing his duty properly. In the chaotic world, Jake manages to make his living possible despite his mental fragmentation, alienation and physical wound.  Supporting the argument that the art of living comes from the hard work or from the weakness of a society, Gay Wilentz writes:

Cohn gets more than he deserves and stays when he isn’t wanted; he is the emasculated Jewish male who succeeds in a world where the real men know it’s not worth trying. He is a symbol of this post-war environment in that his success comes from preying on the weakness of a society de-valued by the breakdown of pre-war values and ideals as well as industrialization. (188-89)

In order to make the world manageable, the characters obtain success by preying the weakness of a pre-war society, industrialization. In order to forget such memories of war, to get relief from his fragmented mind and wounded body, being sexually impotent, he involves in drinking, singing, dancing and talking with friends. Sometimes he makes conversations with unknown ladies or whoever he meets in the restaurants: “‘Well, what will you drink?’ I asked. ‘Pernod.’ ‘That’s not good for little girls.’ ‘A pernod for me, too” (11).  It is being alone in the restaurant Jake cannot stay longer keeping his mouth closed, he talks to a lady. Every human being needs company and Jake is not the exception of that. He manages to make his mind fresh by talking to a girl. Being alone in the restaurant and keeping oneself silent; drinking wine does not sweep away the mental troubles of Jake. Jake in a very artistic way adjusts himself in every situation. He exposes his reason of staying and eating with another person, “I had picked her up because of a vague sentimental idea that it would be nice to eat with sometime” (13).

During their talk Georgette asks Jake about his friends. Her intention is to find out who Jake really was. It is just the way to make their relationship a bit long so that in forthcoming days she will be known by him. She says:

‘Who are your friends?’, Georgette asked.

‘Writers and artists’.

‘There are lost of those on this side of the river.’

‘Too many’.

‘I think so. Still, some of them make money’.

‘Oh, yes.’ (14)

Georgette wants to recognize Jakes’ position; another thing that the conversation reveals that Jake either is an artist or a writer. Being a writer is his existential position; his source of sustaining life despite the problems and horror of war. The conversation is also the symbol of art of Georgette to make more friends so that she could get help in crisis. On the other hand, Jake who felt totally alienated gets chance to make his heart free in order to share his troubles with someone. In this regard, Yuri Prizel mentions V. Dneprov’s regarding The Sun Also Rises as, “War has taught him [Jake] to treat with mockery, almost with contemp. . . “(450). The life of Jake is full of mockeries. His contemplation on the loss of money and his ruined dream of happy life makes him feel broken but somehow he makes a living. Supporting the argument about loss, Earl Rivet views “The Sun Also Rises is a novel about loss” (342). Not only the economic loss, Rivet explores that everything is lost in the novel like mental loss, physical loss, and material loss.

When Georgette dances with other young guys, once again Jake becomes upset. He further says:  “I was very angry. Somehow they always made me angry. I know they are supposed to be amusing, and you should be tolerant, but I wanted to swing on one, anyone, anything to shatter that superior, simpering composure” (16). Jake becomes frustrated when Georgette left him and flew with the tall man.  Jake was actually enjoying with Georgette but it is the art of Georgette to persuade people. Thus, she goes with one who helps to sustain her life or moment. To the tall man, Jake explodes in anger but he suddenly controls himself. Jake knew that it is the strategy of Georgette and he cannot resist against the tall man rather he leaves the place and goes to another bar for another drink.

The self-control of the Jake can be taken as his art of self-consolation. In order to tackle with such mind breaking situation Jake gets drunk. He says, “I was a little drunk. Not drunk in any positive sense but just enough to be careless” (17). Jake not only wants to be careless to get relief from mental troubles but to make unknown to himself. Thus, he says he is not much drunk in positive sense. Jake actually does not want to take drink but the situation compells him to do so.

Later on being frustrated at Cafe, Jake leaves the place pretending to have a headache. He cannot satisfy his desire when Brett dances with another person. Brett, the round character of the novel hovers around major characters in order to sustain her existence but she cannot satisfy herself with any one. When Jake is leaving Cafe she says she will meet him tomorrow but Jake asks her to come at his office. The art of Jake is writing, though not mentioned directly. He makes his living possible through writing and ‘office’ is the indicator that his life is possible or that he is making his existence possible with.

At night after returning from Cafe, Brett lays on bed but cannot sleep. She narrates that people are engaged in their own duties to sustain their life.

Outside a night train, running on the street-car tracks, went by carrying vegetables to the market. They were noisy at night when you could not sleep. Undressing, I looked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed. That was a typically French way to furnish a room. Practical, too, I suppose. Of all the ways to be wounded.  24)

Time and again the description of night train carrying vegetables to the market shows the busy life of the people. Jake, being wounded cannot take part in such works. The noise of the train vandalizes his sleep. The life becomes miserable for him at night. At the time he hears the voice of Brett and asks her to come up: “Brett came up the stairs. I saw she was quite drunk. ‘Silly thing to do’, she said” (26). Not only Jake but Brett also cannot live alone. In a drunken state she comes to Jake’s room. Her entering to Jake’s room at night suggests that they cannot get asleep. As Jake is haunted by the bally past memories, Brett also does not like to remember past. So, in order to make her life a bit little careless she drinks wine too much. The habit of drinking can be taken as the way of making their life careless and to prevent themselves from remembering their inglorious past.  When Brett offers to go out Jake tells her that he has to work, “I have to work in the morning’, I said. I’m too far behind you now to catch up and be any fun.” (27). It symbolizes that Jake cannot leave his work because if he leaves working his life will not sustain at all. In order to sustain his existence, Jake has to make his duty in time.

At the beginning of the novel Robert Cohn, involves in boxing championship. The narrator tells that “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton” (1). In spite of the effect of war Cohn makes his living by playing boxing but once when he was hurt by Spider Kelly he could not continue playing boxing. Cohn returned his home with flattened nose. After Cohn rejects playing boxing, he involves himself in reading books. The intention of Cohn is that by reading books he could make an idea to write books, “In his last year at Princeton he read too much and took to wearing spectacles” (3). It makes clear that the enthusiasm of Cohn was seized since he was knocked down by Spider Kelly which also makes Cohn change his art of survival as he leaves playing boxing later. The another thing is that being Jew Cohn is not respected by others.  In this context, Gay Wilentz writes, “I contend that the meaningless world that Hemingway bemoans in The Sun Also Rises is filled with immigrants-identified in the Jew. Thematically, it is possible that this portrait of the Jewish male illustrates more than the Lost Generation” (187).   Wilentz says that the world presented by Hemingway is meaningless. The characters belong to the lost generation. Cohn is one of them.

Cohn was a married man and his wife hated him for not having much money to spend, “. . .  and just when he had made up his mind to leave his wife she left him and went off with a miniature painter” (4). It also shows that the characters make their decisions by considering only to make their existence possible. When Cohn’s wife realizes that the situation will be worse, she decides to leave Cohn and flies with the painter.  Though Cohn has lost his money and property, he is not pessimistic and goes to California to make earning through writing:

In California he fell among literary people and, as he still had a little of the fifty thousand left, in a short time he was backing a review of the Arts. The review commenced publication in Carmel, California, and finished in Province-town, Massachusetts. By that time Cohn, who had been regarded purely as an angel, and whose name had appeared on the editorial page merely as a member of the advisory board, had become the sole editor. (4)

Cohn, who was left alone has made decision to write an article which made him not only popular but also contributed to make his easy living. Cohn who lost everything including money left by his father, involved himself in reading and then after in writing which makes his existence possible otherwise he would not have been existed or famous. But later on, the magazine was stopped and Cohn became helpless. At that time Cohn meets Frances in the bar and with the help of her enters Europe because Frances was also in need of company to enter Europe. She sees the art of writing in Cohn. As Jake says, ” When this lady saw that the magazine was not going to rise, she became a little disgusted with Cohn and decided that she might as well get what there was to get while there was still something available, so she urged that they go to Europe, where Cohn could write” (5).

At that time Cohn is driven to Europe to make his existence possible with Frances. Both of them get chance to exist in the world where they can easily keep company with one another. The urging or leaving Princeton because of hardship and choosing Europe as destination of survival can be taken as an art of sustaining their life, to make their existence possible in the earth. After entering Europe, Cohn continued his art of writing and this made his life happy in Europe also:

He was fairly happy, except that, like many people living in Europe, he would rather have been in America, and he had discovered writing. He wrote a novel, and it was not really such a bad novel as the critics later called it, although it was a very poor novel. He read many books, played bridge, played tennis and boxed at a local gymnasium. (5)

Cohn, who was totally alienated and frustrated with his life but becomes happy when he enters and starts writing. In order to make his living possible he wrote novel. The novel of Cohn is not a good novel and critics commented it as a very poor novel. Maintaining the commentaries Cohn continued his journey of writing novels in order to make his existence possible, he recognizes the power of writing as an art of survival. So, Cohn ignored all the commentaries and continued to make money through writing.

Existentialists believe in the changing nature of human beings. When Cohn goes to America to publish his novel, it was accepted by a good publisher and when he returned he was quite changed:

That winter Robert Cohn went over to America with his novel, and it was accepted by a fairly good publisher. His going made an awful row. I heard, and I think that was where Frances lost him, because several women were nice to him in New York, and when he came back he was quite changed. (6)

The change occurred in Cohn symbolically tells that in order to make his life cheerful he valued his life and changed accordingly. America, for him, was totally new place but he well manages the situation and recognized the value of his life. He has been good for several women and they have also been nice to him. The confidentiality was increased and his hope was further accelerated with the acceptance of good publisher to publish the novel.

When Cohn and Jake were drinking, Brett also makes some trick to exist in the contemporary society of Paris. She manages herself at times and is aware of boys. Jake says, “Why aren’t you tight?” but Brett says that she is “never going to get tight any more” (17). Brett is careful enough about why not to drink at times. After Jake and Cohn get drunk, Cohn requests Brett to dance with him but she refuses and says that she will dance with Jacob: “The music started and Robert Cohn said: ‘Will you dance this with me, Lady Brett?’ Brett smiled at hi. ‘I’ve promised to dance this with Jacob’, she laughed. ‘You’ve a hell of a biblical name, Jake” (18). In this regard, James C. McKelly writes, “Hemingway’s self-glorifying awareness of self-designated tragedy even in its most suspect, specious forms has been a consistent subject of the critical discourse. The charges stem from his work’s mythic elevation of mundanity, childishness, vanity, and brutality to ritual significance” (558).

Brett, who is clever enough to manage herself, tries to sustain her life staying in between two young Americans Jake and Cohn. She tries to balance herself so as to adjust herself in one’s absence. She neither neglects Cohn nor supports Jake so that she balances her position in between to take advantage from both.  Later when she was dancing with Jake, they kissed each other but she suddenly pulls Jake against her. Jake thinks that by paying all the expenditure of Brett, he wants to satisfy hunger of flesh but Brett refuses to do so.

Here, Brett’s intention is not to mess with Jake rather sustaining her life accompanying with friends. She actually does not want anyone to be permanent life partner. But Jake thinks that he has paid for all the things they do and wants to enjoy Brett’s body. He wants to make his life just romantic or funny.  During their conversation Brett feels sorry and asks for a kiss: “Kiss me just once more before we get there” (22). In order to make Jake happy and not upset she herself asks for kiss so that she could easily make company with him.

When Jake was in his room, Brett came up and informed that Zizi, who is a duke, offered her ten thousand dollars to go to Biarritz. Brett revolves around people who have money and she knows that money makes life possible. Though in her inner heart Jake is there but she cannot stay with him rather wants to company with him. ‘Where did you go with him?’ Oh, everywhere. He just brought me here now. Offered me ten thousand dollars to go to Biarritz with him. How much is that in pounds?” (26). Brett is only making her existence through lovemaking with everyone who has money. She does not like to make herself wife rather wants to revolve around different guys so that she will not have to stay with one person. Later one she tells Jake that she loves him “She looked at me, her hand on the table, her glass raised. ‘Don’t look like that’, she said. ‘Told him I was in love with you. True, too. Don’t look like that. He was damn nice about it. Wants to drive us out to dinner to-morrow night. Like to go.” (27).  Brett does not like to go with Zizi rather she wants to celebrate Zizi’s money going with Jake. She also knew that Jake is the only friends who could be helpful in crisis. So, she never makes Jake unhappy.

Later on Jake feels happy with his going to work. He becomes pleasant with himself because going to work makes his existence possible. He says, “All along people were going to work. It felt pleasant to be going to work. I walked across the avenue and turned in to my office. Upstairs in the office I read the French morning papers, smoked and then sat at the typewriter and got off a good morning’s work” (28-29).  Jake, in order to make his existence possible, works in office. His work makes him feel happy and his days have been running in a good manner with his work. Not only to make existence possible, Jake also works for his spiritual satisfaction. When Jake meets Krum and Woolsey they make a negative remark on their work; that they are not happy with their work. “The englishmen all have Saturday off, Woolsey said. ‘Lucky beggars’, said krum. Well I’ll tell you. Some day I’m not going to be working for an agency. Then I’ll have plenty of time to get out in the country” (29). It provokes on behalf of the workers that they were not given holidays even on Saturdays. The workers are working on off hours too and the situation of them is not good. Though they are not satisfied with their work they still continue not by force but with the realization that work makes their existence possible. Robert Cohn, who makes writing in order to make his existence possible cannot continue to write.

Due to the mental tension, boredom and hallucination and frustration, Cohn cannot make his writing good.  When Jake asks, ‘How’s the writing going?” Cohn irritably replies that “Rotten. I can’t get this second book going”. It is because of the war memories and frustration on the failure of love and separation with his first wife, Cohn is still in a fragmented state. Cohn cannot enjoy his days nor can he make his writing good. Cohn continues writing because writing is the only one way of survival. Both his existence and name and fame is possible through writing. On the other hand, Harvey is a jobless character who deplores his suffering with Jake. Harvey says that he is totally ruined and became empty; he has no money. He says:

‘Do you want to know something, Jake?’


‘I haven’t had anything to eat for five days.’

‘I figured rapidly back in my mind. I was three days ago that Harvey had won two hundred frances from me shaking poker dice in the New York Bar.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘No money. Money hasn’t come’ he paused. (33)

When Jake reveals himself a man having many false friends than anyone in all over the Europe,  Harvey pretends to get money from Jake. Harvey knows Jake’s kind heart, thus, he makes Jake provide him some money. The life of Harvey has become possible by playing poker dice and begging with friends for help.

When Cohn and Jake meet for the next time, Jake asks the same question about Cohn’s writing. But, Cohn makes a reply that he cannot make his writing, “Write this afternoon? ‘No, I couldn’t get it going. It’s harder to do than my first book. I’m having a hard time handling it.” (35). Cohn cannot leave writing rather it has become hard for him to accelerate. Cohn cannot give up his writing because it is the only way of survival and art of survival for him.  On the other hand, when Cohn starts earning good money by writing, he no more cares for Frances which makes Frances frustrated. She deplores her frustration with Jake:

What’s the matter, Frances?

‘Oh, nothing’, she said, ‘except that he wants to leave me.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘Oh, he told every one that we were going to be married, and I told my mother and everyone, and now he doesn’t want to do it.  (37)

Cohn does not like to stick with only one girl since more girls have been sincere to him after his book was published. Jake notes the symptoms of changes in Cohn. The reason behind his changing nature may be he wanted to enjoy with more girls not limiting only with Frances. Frances, who is jobless may not be liked by Cohn because Cohn has become rich after the publication of his book. Frances regrets waiting for Cohn for three years. Frances notes that lack of money is the ultimate cause that distracted Cohn towards her. She says, “Oh, yes. He’s got children, and he’s got money, and he’s got a rich mother, and he’s written a book, and nobody will publish my stuff, nobody at all. It isn’t bad, either. And I haven’t got any money at all” (38). Though Frances writes, her writing is not published. She cannot establish herself as a famous writer; she has not much money to publish it. She agrees that she lacks money and that distracts Cohn. Being rich, the existential nature of Cohn has changed. When Cohn, Jake and Frances were talking she charges Cohn very rhetorically and reveals his going to England. Cohn is forced to tell about his visit to England. Frances also reveals that Cohn  wants to be alone so that he could do whatever he wants “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” (38). It mingles the Cohn’s intention of leaving Frances as well as existing in New York where a lot of people will praise his work. Frances, on the very harsh voice says that ‘little chickens’ will like it that is to say the book will be enjoyed by teenagers or youths. Although Frances criticizes his writing, he continues his writing because he sees his existence possible through writing.

Frances tells Jake that Cohn is a man of round character and of unstable nature. Cohn’s intention changes as he sees beautiful girls; he wants to enjoy with most beautiful girls:

Just the sweetest little thing in the world, and he thought she was wonderful, and then I came along and he thought I was pretty wonderful, too. So I made him get rid of her, and he had brought her to Provincetown from Carmel when he moved the magazine, and he didn’t even pay her fare back to the coast. All to please me. He thought I was pretty fine, then. (40)

Cohn goes closer when he sees beautiful ones. His changing mind and changing nature is much suspicious to Frances but for Cohn it is his art of living. She has realized that Cohn cannot stay with one girl because he is habituated with such rumours. Frances also comments on the mean nature of Cohn when he didn’t pay fare to the girl. Cohn makes counterargument to Frances. He says that he is going to promote young writers: “Look at me. I’m going to England without a protest. All for literature. We must all help young writers. Don’t you think so, Jake.” (40-41)

On the same issue, Frances further charges Cohn that he wants to get romanced with girls so that he doesn’t like to marry her. She also says that if he marries her, his romance will be ended. “See, how it is? And if he marries me, like he’s always promised he would, that would be the end of all the romance” (41). The art of Cohn’s living is that he wants to enjoy with one girl after another so he does not like to marry Frances.

Jake Barnes tries to persuade Brett on living together. But Brett does not want to live together with Jake because she also wants to enjoy with everybody.  She asserts “That would be different. It’s my fault, Jake. It’s the way I’m made” (44).

Brett recognizes her art of existing in the world. She hovers around young boys by which her existence will be possible, otherwise, if she sticks with only one the life will be hard for her because she cannot get help of others except she has chosen. And life is very hard spending with only one person because she is habituated with many people and sticking with only one for her is giving birth to the monotonous life. Regarding the decline of true love W. J. Stuckey writes :

The Sun Also Rises is not about the sterility of modern life or the decline of love in the modern world; it is about a group of characters who go off to a fiesta, who thoroughly enjoy themselves, eating and drinking, fishing, dancing and (some of them) fornicating, and then have their pleasure spoiled by the inevitable change that always takes place in human affairs. Love does not last fiestas do not last, generations do not last, not only this generation, but any generation. (127)

Being a round character, Brett also sticks around rich people because she knew that her life will be full of romance in the side of richer ones. So, when Jake was talking about Veuve Cliquot, she became curious about him knowing that he is a rich man. She says, “Oh, you always have someone in the trade’, Brett said. This fellow raises the grapes. He’s got thousand of acres of them” (46) which makes Brett curious and suddenly she becomes interested.

The count reveals that he has been in seven wars and the effect of war is still in his body. He says, “I’ve been in seven wars and four revolutions” (48). He further says that he has the arrow wounds, “And I’ve got arrow wounds. Have you ever seen arrow wounds?” (48). It makes clear that the life of Count is miserable since he got wounded in war. He also shows the arrow wounds which speared crossing his body front to back. They talk about war memories and after that Brett asks Count to dance but being old Count cannot do so. He says, “No, I’m too old.’ Oh, come off it, Brett said. My dear I would do it if I would enjoy it. I enjoy to watch you dance” (51). It symbolizes that being physically not good, Count rejects dancing with Brett and loves to watch dancing. It also shows the existential crisis of the young Americans who could not live happily because of their physical wound; they cannot celebrate and get happy, make their mind happy, do whatever they want.  In this regard Gary Edward Holcomb writes, “Hemingway’s racy novel, but their very advent validates the existence of The Sun Also Rises. The act of appropriating and inverting Hemingway’s stimulating bohemian novel of existential hopelessness” (70).  When Cohn and Brett went far from Jake, he spends his time going to office, playing tennis and doing his daily works. He, once again became alone in the world. But he somehow manages to exist because the daily routines are there for him. He says:

Brett was gone. I was not bothered by Cohn’s troubles, I rather enjoyed not having to play tennis, there was plenty of work to do, I went often to the races, dined with friends, and put in some extra time at the office getting things ahead so I could leave it in charge of my secretary when Bill Gorton and I should shove off to Spain the end of June. (55)

Jake is compelled to do things, his daily works—he says, plenty of work. His art of living has been changed since Brett and Cohn left him alone. Jake managed himself doing his work, going to the races, dine with friends and even spending his extra time at the office.

Bill also makes money by writing books which is his art of survival. As Jake says, “Bill was very happy. He had made a lot of money on his last book, and was going to make a lot more. We had a good time while he was in Paris and then he went off to Vienna” (55). When Bill comes back from Vienna, Jake and Bill talk about the life at Vienna. Bill tells, “No money, Jake. All we could get was nigger’s clothes” (57). His concern is only on earning money but he cannot make money rather he gets clothes of nigger. The characters are in one or another way following money. Money has become the center which makes their life possible, that is the only art of characters to adjust themselves in the world.

The life of all the characters is based on the exchange of values or things as elaborated by the Albert Camus. Camus’s hero Sisyphus in The Myth of Sisyphus suffers a lot by climbing upto the mountain with big rock and when he reaches at the top, the stone falls down and he has to lift it up again. The same thing happens in the life of characters presented by Hemingway. As Jake says, “Mean everything in the world to you after you bought it. Simple exchange of values. You give them money. They give you a stuffed dog.” (58).  He is of the opinion that everything is possible only after possessing money; money has become the determinant factor of life because it allows a person an access to the desired things.

Michael, a jobless young American, spends his all time going here and there talking with friends. He himself says, “Oh, I am. I’m frightfully fit. I’ve done nothing but walk. Walk all day long. One drink a day with my mother at tea” (63). Michael symbolically tells that his art of existing in the world is walking all the day with friends. Drinking is another friend of him which makes his life easier. He further says, “It’s good to see you, Jake, Michael said. I’m a little tight, you know. Amazing, isn’t it? Did you see my nose? There was a patch of dried blood on the bridge of his nose” (63). Michael says that he is tight with wine. He takes wine and gets drunk. With excessive drink, his nose has become red with someone’s punch in his nose when he spoke in a rude way; he is still with a patch of dried blood on the bridge of his nose.

When all the characters make plan to go enjoying with bullfight, they plan to meet at Pamplona where Mike and Brett were expected to come by Monday:

They expected their money the next day. We arranged to meet at Pamplona. They would go directly to San Sebastian and take the train from there. We would all meet at the Montoya in Pamplona. If they did not turn up on Monday at the latest we would go on ahead up to Burguete in the mountains, to start fishing. (67)

The arrival of Brett and Mike is determined by money—whether they will get money or not. The characters are in one or another way in quest for freedom of mind. They want to spend their time romantically forgetting their painful memories. Jake and Bill wait for Mike and Brett for enjoying fishing in order to spend their time. Fishing has become their art at present; but they cannot stay all the time fishing. Fishing, here, is another art of Jake and Bill to make their living easier until Brett and Mike come there.

When Cohn meets Jake and Bill he praises the writing of Bill. “I’m awfully glad to meet you, Robert said to Bill. I’ve heard so much about you from Jake and I’ve read your books.” (71). Like Cohn and Jake, Bill also makes his living by writing. Bill’s occupation or art of existence is writing as of Cohn and Jakes’.  After reaching Spain, Jake and Bill describe the meal of Spain, “The first meal in Spain was always a shock with the hors doeuvres, an egg course, two meat courses, vegetables, salad and dessert and fruit. You have to drink plenty of wine to get it all down” (75). In order to exist in Spain one must drink plenty of wine otherwise it will be shock with the meal of Spain.

In this context, Pearl Greenberg Berg, Maurice H. Cummings and Sanford J. Smoller comment:

The Sun Also Rises as a ‘cultural document’ but the idea of culture is a superficial one indeed. Culture seems to be what-ever any group, however ill-defined, does, thinks, or feels. Thus, Hemingway is made the spokesman for a group of early twentieth-century Anglo-Americans whose identifying characteristics seem to be ‘irrational fears’ about immigrants and industrialization. (926)

The characters’ art of living in Spain changes as the culture of Spain is different than that of Paris. The characters make adjustments with their desire, likes and dislikes to the locality— they have to accept whatever comes in front of them.

A drunkard Jake is also a religious character. Sometimes he takes help of God and prays. Jake not only prays for his friends, but also for the sake of his lost relatives, his father, grandfathers and ancestors. But at last he wishes God to grant him a lot of money:

I knelt and started to pray and prayed for everybody I thought of, Brett and Mike and Bill and Robert Cohn and myself, and all the bull-fighters, separately for the ones I liked, and jumping all the rest, then I prayed for myself again, and while I was praying for myself I found I was getting sleepy, so I prayed that the bull-fights would be good, and that it would be a fine fiesta, and that we would get some fishing. I wondered if there was anything else I might pray for, and I thought I would like to have some money, so I prayed that I would make a lot of money. . . .(77)

Jake builds his optimism and courage by praying God. He prays for everybody he remembers but at last he prays for his own betterment; he prays for the good of the bull-fights and wishes fiesta to be good. Jake at last prays for money that is Jake is in the need of money. Money, for Jake is the only way to get rid of problems— the problem of his existence in the world because he lost everyone and whatever he has are friends— the false friends. For Jake there is no hope of ray from his relatives. Thus, he prays to God for granting him money— a lot of money. The wish of gaining money is directly linked with his survival and wish for survival. In this regard, commenting on the fiesta, Marvin Mudrick writes:

The Sun Also Rises, even be remorseful (“I was terribly tight and nasty to you last night and I don’t want you to go away with that nasty insulting lousiness as the last thing of the fiestas. I wish I could wipe out all the meanness and I suppose I can’t but this is to let you know that I’m thoroly ashamed of the way I acted and the stinking, un-just uncalled for things I said”). (454)

On the other hand, Bill boasts on his beauty and honesty. He says that he is an honest man among all:

He looked at his face carefully in the glass, put a big dab of later on each cheek-bone. It’s an honest face. It’s a face any woman would be safe with.

‘She’d never seen it’.

‘She should have. All women should see it. It’s a face that ought to be thrown on every screen in the country. Every women ought to be given a copy of this face and she leaves the altar. Mothers should tell their daughter about this face. (82)

Being frustrated on having no one to accompany him, Bill becomes imaginative and says that his face is honest. He further says that he has the honest face and any women can stay safely with him. Critiquing on Brett and Cohn’s relationship he says that Brett had never realized that which would be better having him. He further says that every woman should see his face; his face should be thrown on every screen throughout the country, every women should be given a copy of his face— and the mothers should tell their daughters adoring about his face.  The lovemaking relationship between Cohn and Brett is not honest since Cohn ignored Brett and went to New York. At the same time, Bill compares himself with Cohn in order to get solace that he has not done such nasty thing to Brett.

The responsible factor for characters’ departure from America is it’s expensiveness. The characters want to adjust themselves in cheap place. The expensiveness of America is not suitable for their existence as they reveal while drinking wine, “Have a drink? All right, he said. ‘You can’t get this in America, eh?’ ‘There’s plenty if you can pay for it.” (86). America is an expensive country and people engrossed with poverty so that the characters run away to cheap places; Pamplona where they can celebrate fiesta enjoying with friends at a very cheap price.

Money has become the central issue determining the existence of characters—the prior thing which makes their art of living possible. When Jake was digging worms for trout fishing Bill charges him, “What are you doing? Burying your money?” (90). Bill’s charge is very satirical since Jake is one of the bankrupt and has many creditors in Europe than anyone.  Jake replies that he has been working for the common good as both of them were going in Irati river for trout fishing. Their only concern of going to Irati river is no other than to maintain their living.

The existential crisis of the characters is also presented in the novel. As  Bill says, “And you claim you want to be a writer, too. You’re only a newspaper man. An expatriated newspaper man. You ought to be ironical the minute you get out of bed. You ought to wake up with your mouth full of pity” (91).  Jakes’ claim as a writer is not strong since he is only a newspaper man. In Bill’s tone he is an expatriated newspaper man. Bill also shows pity on the existence of Jake because he has to think for food after getting out of bed.

The pathetic condition of protagonist reveals that the characters in the novel have been suffering not only from existential crisis but also from the identity crisis. Giving stress to the unknown identity Bill says, “Don’t you read? Don’t you ever see anybody? You know what you are? You’re an expatriate. Why don’t you live in New York? Then you know these things” (92). It tells us that not only the protagonist but all the characters except Cohn stopped going New York. Their existence in New York is very critical even if they go there, because New York is a very expensive city. The characters are helpless in the sense that they lack money, they lack job, they lack their physical as well as mental strength which could not guarantee their existence in New York. Bill further says: “You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You became obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You’re an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes” (92).

The characters have managed to exist in the world, they lost their connection with soil. When they were young, they fought against their enemies but now they are totally ignored and their existence in New York has became problematic because the fake European standards have cheated them. To get rid of such worries, the characters find their possible existence on taking drink, hanging around cafes talking, singing and dancing with the practice of forgetting worries. Bill also charges on the weakness of Jake as he is supposed to be obsessed by sexual desire despite impotency which Bill reveals as, “You don’t work. One group claims women support you. Another group claims you’re impotent” (92). It proves that in the war Jake was badly wounded and no attention had been paid to him by the government to cure his wound. Supporting the argument Kermit Vanderbilt writes, “Hemingway had trusted a memory which, as he was never to discover, had played him false in The Sun Also Rises. As a result, his story suffers the fate of human art” (154). It reveals that Jake suffers a lot by being impotent.

The possible existence is in intimacy with books as Jake, Cohn, Bill and Michael are fond of books. While returning from Irati river, Jake takes rest under a tree and starts reading book. He mentions that “The book was something by A.E.W. Mason, and I was reading a wonderful story about a man who had been frozen in the Alps and then fallen into a glacier and disappeared, and his bride was going to wait twenty-four years exactly for his body to come out on the moraine” (96). Here, the love of characters is vanished as in the story of Mason’s. Jake in a very rhetoric tone mingles the story with his own story of losing everyone including his relatives. The existence of love has been destroyed by glacier in the story but in reality the war has destroyed the existence of love because no women want Jake because he is supposed to be impotent.

The bloody nature of war is further inaugurated amid of their conversation by Mike. The only hatred of the characters is on the effect of war. As Mike says, “Later on in the evening I found the box in my pocket. What’s this? I said. Medals? Bloody military medals? So I cut them all . . . ” (109). The war is no more the issue of pride even if they involved themselves in it. Mike also says that the bloody military medals had become no more useful for them. He cuts the metals and gives away to the girls. The characters make their adjustment according to the fund they have. Passing wine shop Brett says, “Good Wine 30 Centimes a Litre. That’s where we’ll go when funds get low” (110).  The characters’ awareness on their funds became visible in their minds. They will go to get such wine when they have low funds because they have to adjust even in a crisis of money. The art of existence for Brett is managing the consumption and searching for cheap places. Another revelation of art of managing life is evoked by Jake, “Enjoying living was learning to get your money’s worth and knowing when you had it. You could get your money’s worth. The world was a good place to buy in” (119). Jake wants to make his existence by knowing the worth of money and spending it with much care. He wants money to be spent very carefully because he is poor and wants to exist in the world. He also knows that the world is good place to buy because no one serves in free for them nor anyone sacrifices for other.

The characters enjoy fiesta in order to get rid of their problems because in fiesta no one cares for money and every person celebrates despite the money problems, alienation, memories, traumas or lost relatives. So, the characters enjoy fiesta: “The fiesta was really started. It kept up day and night for seven days. The dancing kept up, the drinking kept up, the noise went on. The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta” (124).  It reveals why all the characters involve in fiesta for their survival. Fiesta has become the only thing that makes free— they can get salvation from their alienation, fragmentation, traumatic war memories and pain on the loss of connection with their homeland. In other words, ‘fiesta’ is the hope of characters in their possible existence. In this context, Gay Wilentz argues: “I picked up The Sun Also Rises, already inclined to be swept away by the romanticism of its anti-romantic modernist sense of loss” (186).

Asunder from the reality that Bill’s existence is possible by writing, he regrets on being writer because it is very hard to make money from writing. He says, “Tell him I think writing is lousy, Bill said. ‘Go on, tell him. Tell him I’m ashamed of being a writer” (142). The hatred of Bill on being a writer is because by writing he gets nothing. Bill, being a writer cannot make his existence easy because he is short of money.  When Bill and Mike were enjoying with Edna, Edna came to knew that they are bankrupts she charges them, “‘Take me away from here, she said, ‘you bankrupts'” (153). Her hatred also shows that Bill and Mike are no more useful for her because they lack money and with bankrupts she cannot make her living. In this way, the characters, though suffer a lot continue to suffer. Supporting the argument Doris A. Helbig writes, “The characters have suffered and continue to suffer losses: Jake’s loss of his sexual potency and Brett, Robert Cohn’s loss of Brett, and Brett’s loss of Jake and Pedro Romero. To find solace for themselves and to regain a sense of community, the characters turn to confession. . .” (85).

Brett is attracted by the personality of Romerio. She goes with Romerio to enjoy because she knew his talent. At the same time Cohn asks Jake for Brett and knocks down after his refusal to tell where she really is. The round character of Brett makes her existence possible but the same existence has become problematic to Jake.  In this regard, supporting Romerio, Keneth Kinnamon  writes, “Romero is admirable because he is an artist with a brilliant future in the bull ring, a man with a métier, in contrast to Cohn, Brett, Mike, and even Jake himself, people either without a métier or unsuccessful in it and with no future at all” (47).  On the other hand, Belmonte, a bull-fighter kills bulls in order to exist in the world. He was known as a renowned bull-fighter at Pamplona. As Jake narrates,

Fifteen years ago they said if you wanted to see Belmonte you should go quickly, while he was still alive. Since then he has killed more than a thousand bulls. When he retired the legend grew up about how his bull-fighting had been, and when he came out of retirement the public were disappointed because no real man could work as close to the bulls as Belmonte was supposed to have done . . .  (174)

The art of Belmonte is his bull-fighting skills. He became a legendary figure in bull fighting because no one came to compete with him. When he got retired from bull-fighting the public were disappointed. The public craze towards Belmonte’s bull-fighting skill is the signal of his survival because if he was not a good bull-fighter no one will look after his game and he would have disappeared from the public eyes.

Towards the end of novel, the major characters realize that only drinking, singing, dancing and enjoying cannot flip their depression from their mind. Thus, they try to change their habit of drinking:

‘Don’t drink it fast that way. It will make you sick.

I set down the glass. I had not meant to drink it fast.

‘I feel tight.’

‘You ought to’.

‘That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?’

‘Sure. Get tight. Get over your damn depression.’ (182)

The characters realize that drinking hard and fast makes them sick rather than free from boredom. At the beginning they did not realized the effect of drinking. But getting tight is not the new phenomenon for them and that they wanted too. Getting tight with wine is directly linked to their depression. They drink not to make their body tight rather to get over their depression. Regarding the hatred of the characters towards their fragmented life, W. J. Stuckey comments, “The Sun Also Rises has its own form of romanticism, a special blending of self-indulgence and self-control, a love for and a hatred of life because, though sweet, life must end” (230). The characters suffer from the loss of their own land, lineage and physical as well as mental loss.

When the fiesta is over, the characters became much aware of their ended entertainment and their duties. The art of living has totally been changed after the fiesta celebration. Now, money matters for them:

‘I’m sorry’, Mike said. I can’t get it.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘I’ve no money’, Mike said. ‘I’m story. I’ve just twenty frances. Here, take twenty frances’

Bill’s face sort of changed. (187)

The characters in fiesta spend their money and now they have less money and cannot gamble with friends too. Bill, having less money cannot enjoy with friends. The purpose of drinking is also changed. Jake says, “I drank a bottle of wine for company. It was a Chateau Margaux. It was pleasant to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be drinking alone. A bottle of wine was good company” (190). In this regard Frank McConnell comments on Hemingway as, “Hemingway himself was a weak man – and sad because he knew that he was. His bluster, his bullying, his loud adventurism were a mask for a deep-seated insecurity. He was a miles glorious, a braggart soldier who could be taken as a figure of fun” (162). For the company wine is good for Jake because all the friends, as he stated before, were only the false friends hovering around his money which makes him sad. Thus, at last he finds wine as his ever-lasting friend. He realizes that his existence is guided by his thought. And friends for him, are not the good friends— they cannot help him anymore. Anyway, he realizes that drinking alone and tasting wine; becoming a company of wine is more pleasant than to be company with false friends. Regarding the lonely life of Jake, David Sanders writes:

The Sun Also Rises, measuring that superiority in what he held to be Hemingway’s new knowledge of the economic system.10 Yet it is difficult to perceive any greater such awareness in the portraits of bureaucrats and sycophants, let alone the hero, than was in the earlier equation of the Roosevelt administration and “starry-eyed bastards. (136)

Jake wants travelling because he feels comfortable in countryside because of the simplicity of living. He says, “It felt comfortable to be in a country where it is so simple to make people happy. You can never tell whether a Spanish waiter will thank you. Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in” (190). He appreciates the life of Spain whereas he dislikes France because one cannot sure whether people will thank him or not— thanking is also the matter of money in France. So, he finds his existence possible in simplicity that is where he is now.

Indeed, they are at a point where struggle is necessary to make their existence possible. Their closeness suggests that they want one another in order to continue with life. Jake narrates, “Brett moved close to me. We sat close against each other. I put my arm around her and she rested against me comfortably” (202).  It suggests at the end of the novel that in order to continue with present life, the characters cannot alienate themselves from the society and struggle for the art of living. The characters somehow revolve around money in order to sustain their life. The life can be observed good whenever they had money and worse whenever they lack it.


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