Daily Hopelessness in The Sun Also Rises

Throughout his critically acclaimed novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway depicts the daily life of people in the so-called “Lost Generation” with a blatant sense of hopelessness. The characters in this novel are burdened by an inescapable cloak of emptiness that gives them the feeling that any effort they put forth in this world is futile. By analyzing the behavior of Jake, Brett, and the Lost Generation members as a whole, the intrinsic theme of futility can be seen as a far-reaching consequence of World War I.

The narrator of the novel, Jake, is a young veteran who suffered from a serious genital wound during The Great War. Because of his injury, Jake is deprived of the masculinity that most men cherish. This leads directly to his appearance as a bystander in the store. Jake wanders through life without any impetus to change or strive for improvement; he is perfectly content with his meager existence and his lack of involvement is shown through his honest, reporter-like style of narration.

Had it not been for the war, Jake may have had ambition and confidence, but the figurative and literal castration that he endures cause him to lose his identity. How can a man have success without the pride and motivation necessary to do so? Jake serves as an example to prove that lacking the urge to improve himself has led him to accept mediocrity. Deprived of his identity as a man, Jake is lost in a complex world where he rides along the waves of life rather than challenging the current.

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Mental weakness from his traumatizing war experience inhibits him from taking action, so Jake is brought to the conclusion that any effort is futile. Clearly, the emasculating effect of the war on Jake led to his lifeless behavior and dismal view of existence. This absence of hope is present in other characters as well, especially Brett Ashley.

Lady Brett Ashley is not the high-class woman that her title may convey her to be. She even acknowledges her value of this poorly attributed title when she says “Isn’t it wonderful, we all have titles”” (63). Instead, Brett is an alcoholic, sensual woman who has no regard for principles and morality. As a nurse during the war, Brett had her fair share of seeing the cruelty of battle. In addition, her past experiences with failed relationships have contributed to her current state of recklessness. Constant drunkenness is the only solution that Brett finds to her problem of finding a purpose in life. “’Let’s have a drink, then” (63) is a statement by Brett that epitomizes her goal in life; intoxication to distract. Brett desires what she can’t obtain throughout the entire novel. She wants to be with Jake, but she knows it will not happen due to his injury. She would like to hold onto her relationship with Mike, but she can not remain faithful. Everything Brett does is done in order to distract herself from the reality that life is, quite simply, bad. Everything that the entire “Lost Generation” does is done for that same purpose. Try as they might to live happily, these people have been knocked off course by the devastating Great War and they are forced, like Brett, to accept the futility of their efforts in life.

All in all, Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises tries to explain the feelings of disillusioned men and women who float aimlessly through life after World War I. They try in vain to fill their empty lives with substance, but they only worsen their already damaged conditions. Attempts by Jake, Brett, and all of the characters in the novel to take their minds off of reality are futile. The overarching view that futility is a governing factor in the lives of “Lost Generation” individuals is clearly expressed through this renowned novel.

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Daily Hopelessness in The Sun Also Rises. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/the-hopelessness-in-the-daily-life-of-people-in-the-novel-the-sun-also-rises-by-ernest-hemingway/

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