Paper on Sun Also Rises

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Sun Also Rises


The Lost of Self

"One generation passeth away, the passage from Ecclesiates began, and another generation
cometh; but the earth abideth forever. The sun also ariseh…"(Baker 122). A Biblical
reference forms the title of a novel by Ernest Hemingway during the 1920s, portraying the
lives of the American expatriates living in Paris. His own experience in Paris has
provided him the background for the novel as a depiction of the 'lost generation'.


Hemingway's writing career began early; he edited the high school newspaper and, after
graduation, got a job as reporter on a local newspaper. After that he was turned down by
the Kansas City draft boards. He wanted to get to Europe and managed to there by
volunteering as an ambulance driver. After being wounded, he recalled that life slid from
him, "like you'd pull a silk handkerchief out of a pocket by a corner"(Villard 53), almost
fluttered away, then returned. This was a period in his life when he became 'lost' and
searched to overcome his own suffering and test his courage. His experiences in finding
himself provided the background for The Sun Also Rises, which is one of the most famous
novel ever written about the 'lost generation'. "It is Jake's narrative, his story, but
behind Jake is Hemingway, the artist, manipulating the action"(Reynolds 73). Soon after
the war, Hemingway married and he with his wife moved to Paris. There his bride gave him a
letter of introduction to Gertrude Stein. When they met, she commented that "You are all a
lost generation," a


casual remark, yet one which became world famous after Hemingway used it as an epigraph to
his first major novel, The Sun Also Rises.


The term 'lost generation' means a great deal to Hemingway's readers. It reflects the
attitudes of the interwar generation, especially those of the literatures produced by the
young writers of the time. These writers believed that their lives and hopes had been
shattered by the war. They had been led down by a glory trail to death not for noble,
patriotic ideas, but for the greedy, materialistic gains of the power groups. In his
novels


"Hemingway recorded the changes in the moral atmospheric pressure. Home, family, church
and family gave this war-wounded generation no moral support. The old values—love,
honor, duty, truth—were bankrupted by a war that systematically killed off a generation
of European men and permanently scarred Americans like Jake, who fought during the last
months of the debacles"(Reynold 63).


The high-minded ideas of their elders were not to be trusted; the only reality was truth
and that was harsh. Life was futile and often meaningless. According to "President
Harding's 'back to normalcy' policy, subject seemed to its members(the lost generation) to
be hopelessly provincial, materialistic, and emotionally barren"("Lost Generation" 487).
This demonstrates why this generation was in search of its own values. "The moral
hypocrisy of Prohibition that so irritated Hemingway's generation produced exactly the
reaction that Hemingway documents in his novel"(Reynolds 62).


The term 'lost generation' embraces Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos,
Archibald MacLeish, Hart Crane, and may other writers who made Paris the


center of their literary activities in the 1920s. Although they never worked together as a
group, their work was at times similar:


Hemingway's world is one in which things do not grow and bear fruit, but explode, break,
decompose, or are eaten away. It is saved from total misery by visions of endurance, by
what happiness the body can give when it does not hurt, by interludes of love which


cannot outcast the furlough and by a pleasure in the landscapes of countries and cafes one
can visit. A man has dignity only as he can walk with a courage that has no purpose beyond
itself among the fellow wounded, with an ear alert for the sound of the shell that really
has his number on it. It is a barren world of fragments which lies before us like a land
of bad dreams, where a few pathetic idylls and partial triumph relieve the diet of
nightmare(Benson 129).


In the book, Hemingway tells the story of a group of American expatriates living in Paris,
which has been the center of their literary activities. The characters all share common
values, which influence them when they produce their work. The common experience from the
First World War has also provided them with the same beliefs. Thus, they are reflections
of the lost generation who draw ideas for their works from the pleasures they have.


Behind the term 'lost generation' lay the basic disillusionment of the American public,
the disillusionment that was brought about by the First World War. "The generation were
'lost' in the sense that its inherited values were no longer relevant in the postwar world
and because of its spiritual alienation from U.S."(Bloom 487). People in America and other
countries came to realize that the old concepts and old


values of Christianity and other ethical systems of the western world had not served to
save mankind from the catastrophes inherent in the World War. Therefore, after the war
many writers began to look for a new system of values that would replace the old received
doctrines that had proved to be useless. Having endured the great tragedies of World War
I, the American people could not return to the quiet countryside of America, they could no
longer accept those values that had previously lived by. Instead, they searched for
something based upon a sense of order and discipline that would survive any particular
situation. We can conclude by saying that the values are not the morals that we have grown
accustomed to in twentieth-century Protestant America, it was an era of change.


A basis for all the actions of the lost generation was the concept of death. The idea of
death influenced the American expatriates. This view involves their concept that when you
are dead you are dead. There is nothing more. If man cannot accept a life or reward after
death, the emphasis must then be on achieving something in this particular life. If death
ends all activities, if death ends all knowledges and consciousness, man must seek his
reward immediately. The lost generation existed in a large part for the gratification of
their sensual desires; they devoted themselves to all types of physical pleasures because
these were the rewards of their lives. According to Reynolds, "about 2 million
Americans—one out of every fifty-five—visited Europe between 1925-1930. Many tourists
traveled immersed in a vague fog of alcohol. American Bars sprang up in Paris to cater in
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