Hemmingway-The Sun Also Rises

In the novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway describes
a couple who share a very strange and distant kind of love
for each other. This story takes place immediately after

World War I, a time of great hardship. This hardship results
in a digression of values both morally and socially. The
love that Brett and Jake share is symbolic of the general
decline in values in that they tolerate behaviors in one
another that would have been previously considered
unacceptable.

It is clear that Lady Brett Ashley is anything but a
lady. She is kind and sweet but extremely vulnerable to the
charm that various men in her life seem to smother her with.

Brett is not happy with her life or her surroundings and
seeks escape and refuge in the arms of these men. But her
actions seem always to end up hurting her, and she runs back
to Jake. Jake knows that he will never be able to have her
for his own, and he accepts this as fact. This is clear when
the Count asks them ³why donıt you get married, you two?
(68)² To this question, they give a lame half hearted
awnser which implies that it will never happen. He is
tolerant of her behavior because he loves her
unconditionally and is willing to overlook everything she
does. Jakeıs willingness to endure and forgive Brettıs
promiscuity and infidelity is an indication of the skewed
values of the age. It was an ³anything goes² era right after
the first war, and Jakeıs message to Brett seems to be the
same: anything goes as long as you eventually come back to
me.

Jake is forced to accept living in this seemingly
terrible way for more than one reason. He a weak person
socially, but he is also physically disabled because of an
injury that he suffered during the war. He suffered an
injury that caused him to be castrated. The first
hint of this is when he says to Georgeette ³I was hurt in
the war (24) in refrence to why they can not have physical
realtions. This injury is one that makes him insecure, but
worse than that, it allows Brett to have almost complete
control over him. Jake and Brett need each other
emotionally, but Brett feels that she needs more. As a
result Jake is force to give her up.

Jakeıs feelings toward his friend Robert Cohn are a
combination jealousy, compassion, understanding, and hate.

These are a very unusual group of feelings for a person to
have toward one person, but it was a very unusual time. Jake
knew of Robertıs relationship with Brett, and it ate him up
with envy, but at the same time he knew how it had ended. He
had been close friends with Robert, and had been through a
similar situation with Brett, so he had both compassion and
understanding for Robertıs position. The only problem was
the way Robert choose to deal with his feelings. Robert also
could not stand to see Brett with another man, but he
displayed this much differently. Robertıs presense bothered

Jake even though they had been close friends. Robert backs
out of a fishing trip to find Brett, and Jakeıs friend makes
a comment about that being a good thing. Jakeıs only
reply is ³Youıre damn right(108)². Robert makes a fool out
of himself. He even beats up Jake at one point. Behavior
like his was impossible for Jake to respect and he hated
this part of Robert. None of this would have even been a
problem if life during that time had been a little more
solid in a moral sense. Brett would have not been permitted
to act the way she did, while mantaining her social status,
which clearly meant a great deal to her. She would have had
to choose, and most likely her choice would have been that
of a more chaste lifestyle.

In this story, there is a very different way of life
from what people know today. The relationship that Jake and

Brett share is one that would seem completely unrealistic in
todayıs time, but to them, it was acceptable. Jake no doubt
would have preferred to have it differently, but he is
accepting of the way it stands. The hardship and the poverty
that is so widely spread in that area during the post war
time causes the people to lower their moral standards. Jake
and Brettıs love is the perfect example.