Sun Also Rises
Of the segments of American society scarred by the anguish of the First World

War, the damage was most severe amongst the younger generation of that time.

Youthful and impressionable, these people were immersed headlong into the
furious medley of death and devastation. By the time the war had ended, many
found that they could no longer accept what now seemed to be pretentious and
contradictory moral standards of nations that could be capable of such
atrocities. Some were able to brush off the pain and confusion enough to get on
with their lives. Others simply found themselves incapable of existing under
their country’s thin façade of virtuousness and went abroad, searching for
some sense of identity or meaning. These self-exiled expatriates were popularly
known as the "Lost Generation" a term credited to Gertrude Stein, who once
told Hemingway: "That’s what you all are. All you young people who served in
the war. You are a lost generation... You have no respect for anything. You
drink yourself to death."1 Many of these individuals tended to settle in

Paris, a suitable conduit through which to pursue their new lifestyle. Content
to drift through life, desperately seeking some sort of personal redemption
through various forms of indulgence, these people had abandoned their old value
system and heroes, only to find difficulty in finding new ones. A great deal of
new literature was spawned in an effort to capture the attitudes and feelings of
such individuals to reinvent a model of sorts for a people sorely lacking any
satisfactory standard to follow. At the forefront of these writers was Ernest

Hemingway, whose Novel, The Sun Also Rises, became just such a model, complete
with Hemingway’s own definition of heroism. Many of the characters in the
novel represented the popular stereotype of the post WWI expatriate Parisian:
wanton and wild, with no real goals or ambitions. Mike Campbell, Robert Cohn,
and Lady Brett Ashley, and even the protagonist Jake Barnes all demonstrate some
or all of the aforementioned qualities throughout the novel. All seem perfectly
content to exist in their own oblivious microcosm, complete with their own
‘unique’ set of moral values. While the qualities of these characters
dominate, to an extent, the flow of the novel, it is important to acknowledge
their contrast to Jake and the bullfighter, Pedro Romero. Unlike the others,
these two characters serve as heroic figures, albeit each in a very different
way. Jake is a truly realistic protagonist. Like his friends, Jake is a victim
of many of the same circumstances. The difference is that Jake does not let his
emotional turmoil corrupt his life to the same extent as the others. Unlike the
other expatriates, he has not completely rejected all of the old values of the
pre-WWI era. For example: While Jake seems to be having difficulty in completely
accepting his religion, he still tries to grasp on to it, though perhaps a
little fearful that his handhold will break if he grasps too tightly: "Listen,

Jake," he said, "are you really a Catholic?" "Technically." "What
does that mean?" "I don’t know." (128-129) Along with this emotional
baggage, Jake also has a physical defect in the form of a wound he suffered in
the war, which has rendered him sexually impotent. Despite the way in which his
injury thwarts his relationship with Brett, Jake accepts his situation with a
great deal of integrity, despite the scathing pain of his unfulfilled love. As
is consistent with the realistically human portrayal of Jake’s character, his
role as a heroic figure is stifled somewhat by the constraints of society.

Rather than exhibiting gallant feats of bravery consistent with the romantic
definition of a hero, Jake’s valiance is displayed in a subtler, less tangible
manner. By displaying the virtues of tolerance, honesty, patience and
understanding, Jake proves himself to be as much of an heroic figure as can
reasonably be expected in the real world under conventional circumstances.

Jake’s maturity and understanding of the limitations of modern society is
shown particularly in his remark that: "Nobody ever lives their life all the
way up except bull-fighters." (18) Pedro Romero truly is set apart
significantly from the others. Virtually flawless, this young man lives in the
world of the matador: a world immune from the constraints of civilization. When

Romero is in the bullring, he is able to transcend the confines of the modern
world. He truly becomes the closest approximation to the classic definition of a
romance hero, perhaps even to mythical proportions. To the crowd, he is not just
a man; he is Theseus slaying the