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The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

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In the The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway portrays how a group of

expatriates especially Jake, Robert, and Mike are severely damaged by war after World

War I, and are relentlessly fighting for one woman’s affection. They were damaged

physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These men are, for the most part and unlike

Romero, incredibly dysfunctional, unsure of where they are going and what

their lives will bring. The three primary men demonstrating such dysfunctional

qualities are Jake, Robert, and Mike. A commonality among these men is all

are involved, at one point or another, with Brett, a woman who shares their charact-

eristics and is ultimately as dysfunctional as the men. These men are all drawn to

her and need Brett, but they find no hope or comfort in their relationship with her

because she is just as lost as they are.

Brett continues to be a destructive force, and it most definitely

should be noted that other relationships in which she engaged did

not prove destructive to the men. Two so called pawns Bill and the Count

were not damaged primarily because they possessed confidence in themselves and

in their lives. They were not obsessed with Brett and did not think that she

could be the answer to their problems. Brett had little affect upon these

men who were in control of their lives and emotionally healthy. However, she did

have control over Jake, Robert, and Mike because they were lost, part of that lost

generation that Hemingway often wrote about. And Brett, being as lost as the

men, truly fell into the destructive relationships, thrived on them, and even

unconsciously looked for them.

Brett is clearly one of those type of women who seems to seek out men who

need her. She thrives on that need and then quickly dismisses them for one reason or

another. She feels wanted and needed by these men, but never finds happiness

with them because of the fact that they need her. However, this is what fuels

her, making her feel loved and useful. She is perhaps incapable of finding a

real relationship. And, even when we imagine that she could have had such a

relationship with Jake, we realize that she only appeared truly smitten with him

because he could not meet her needs sexually. It is the old story of believing

she may have wanted something because she couldn’t have it.

Jake is clearly disabled and unable to "perform" sexually with Brett.

However, the need for love has not diminished by any means, in fact it has increased.

Through Jake's experiences in the war he is, as we have noted, clearly looking

for some value, some meaning, in his life. Despite his inability to perform, he

seeks meaning and value through some sort of sexual relationship with Brett.

Even though sex is not present in their relationship, the dream of such a

reality, the sexual hope and need, is still powerfully present. This clearly

presents us with a picture of a man who feels he is unworthy, and who society

feels is unworthy, because he is not sexually active, something that truly

defines a man.

Sex is the foundation of this relationship because it is nonexistent and

thus becomes the desired object that helps to define the lack of a relationship.

Each one relies on sex to define themselves and his or her relationship. And, Brett


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