Sun Also Rises By Hemingway

                   Madam Adam: Hemingway’s exploration of Man in The Sun Also Rises ‘It’s
really an awfully simple operation, Jig,’ the man said. ‘It’s not really
an operation at all.’ Much of Hemingway’s body of work grows from issues of
male morality. In his concise, “Hills Like White Elephants,” a couple
discusses getting an abortion while waiting for a train in a Spanish rail
station bar. Years before Roe v. Wade, before the issues of abortion rights,
mothers’ rights, and unborn children’s rights splashed across the American
mass consciousness, Ernest Hemingway assessed the effects of abortion on a
relationship, and, more specifically, he examined a man’s role in determining
the necessity of the procedure and its impact on his psyche and his ability to
love. The Sun Also Rises continues the investigation of the morality of being a
man in longer, more foundational form. Rather than dealing with such a discrete
issue as “Hills Like White Elephants,” the novel discusses questions of
masculinity on a large scale by testing an array of male characters, each
perfect in some traditionally masculine traits, with a woman perfectly designed
to cut to their flaws. The three most important of these controlled experiments
balance each other particularly well. Lady Brett’s treatment of Jake Barnes,
Pedro Romero, and, much more briefly, Count Mippopopolous allows Ernest
Hemingway to exhibit the infinite fallibility of Man as his most fundamental and
important quality rather than exulting the tough-guy, ubermench cult he is often
credited with popularizing. Ernest Hemingway says he slapped Max Eastman’s
face with a book… and Max Eastman says he threw Hemingway over a desk and
stood him on his head in a corner… They both tell of the face-slapping, but
Mr. Hemingway denies Mr. Eastman threw him anywhere or stood him on his head in
any place, and says that he will donate $1,000 to any charity…for the pleasure
of Mr. Eastman’s company in a locked room with all legal rights waved.
Hemingway’s penchant for adventure, belief in honor, and outward male pride
often manifested themselves in well-publicized scandals such as his 1937 rumble
with Max Eastman. Some of his stories, like surviving on bananas and rum in the
African jungle after suffering two plane crashes, have integrated themselves
into American folklore. The author seemed to live the romantic, wild lifestyle
his novels reported. And Hemingway did lead an exciting life—hunting in
Africa, fishing off Cuba, battling in Spain, and drinking in France. However,
Hemingway killed himself in July of 1961, so he obviously found shortcomings in
the commingling of fiction and reality that he created. Consequently, a reading
of The Sun Also Rises that examines the failures of its male characters as a
study of qualities men ought to have inevitably proves anemic—all of them
suffer from flaws the author purposely highlights. Hemingway cannot deny the
importance and existence of heroic acts even within a novel containing no
complete hero. Rather, the defects of the men with whom Lady Brett cultivates
relationships throughout the book represent the obstacles that all men must
overcome as the necessary action of heroism. His story, “The Short Happy Life
of Francis Macomber,” follows the full cycle of this process, from the
emasculation of its protagonist when his wife witnesses his flight from a lion
on safari, to his murder as a result of conquering his fear. Noticeably, though,
the heroic completion of Francis Macomber who grows, “‘awfully brave,
awfully suddenly’” immediately precedes the death he suffers not in the
fangs of his previous adversary but at the hands of his wife, society’s
representative on that plot of savannah. Jake Barnes, the narrator in The Sun
Also Rises, does not clearly recount the moments that stole the physical
component of his masculinity. The novel simply informs the reader of the
presence of such a war injury, which becomes Lady Brett, his professed love’s
excuse for her incomplete attention to him. But Jake’s basic failing as a man
paradoxically provides him with an increased tolerance for Brett and his ability
to, somewhat objectively, relate a story about her sexual activity. Barnes also
wields a cool tone before any emotional situation in completing the tough task
of tracking Ashley. The man refuses any connection to an outside character
deeper than drinking and banter. For instance, in Burguete he responds,
“‘Drink up, Harris,” to a new fishing buddy’s admission, “‘I say,
Barnes. You don’t know what this all means to me.” Arthur Waldhorn notes in
his Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway, “what Jake offers himself is a
self-study course in emotional pragmatism.” In spite of his wounded sexuality
and even tone,