Ernest Hemingway - "The Lost Generation"


Ernest Hemingway is a renowned American author of the Twentieth
century who centers his novels around personal experiences and
affections. He is one of the authors named "The Lost Generation."
He could not cope with post-war America, and therefore he
introduced a new type of character in writing called the "code
hero". Hemingway is known to focus his novels around code heroes
who struggle with the mixture of their tragic faults and the
surrounding environment. Traits of a typical Hemingway Code Hero
are a love of good times, stimulating surroundings, and strict
moral rules, including honesty. The Code Hero always exhibits
some form of a physical wound that serves as his tragic flaw and
the weakness of his character. In Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also
Rises Jake Barnes is the character who maintains the typical Code
Hero qualities; while Robert Cohn provides the antithesis of a
Code Hero.

Jake Barnes, the narrator and main character of The Sun Also
Rises, is left impotent by an ambiguous accident during World War
I. Jake's wound is the first of many code hero traits that he
features. This physical wound, however, transcends into an
emotional one by preventing Jake from ever consummating his love
with Lady Brett Ashley. Emotional suffering can take its toll on
the Code Hero as it did with Jake Barnes. Despite the deep love
between Jake and Lady Brett, Jake is forced to keep the
relationship strictly platonic and stand watch as different men
float in and out of Lady Ashley's life and bed. No one other than
Jake and Brett themselves ever learn the complexity of their
relationship because Jake's hopeless love for Brett and the agony
it entails are restricted to scenes known to themselves alone.
Therefore, Jake suffers in silence because he has learned to trust
and rely only upon himself, which is conducive to the Hemingway
Code as well.

Jake is an American who travels to Europe to satiate his appetite
for exotic landscapes and to escape his pain. Jake tries to live
his life to the fullest with drinking, partying, and sporting with
friends. With these pastimes, Jake hopes to hide from his fault
and get on with the life he has been made to suffer. Watching and
participating in sports help accentuate the Code Hero's
masculinity and provide the sense of pride Jake has lost. This
gain of pride is essential in the Hemingway Code. Jake attends
fishing trips with friends, he visits Pamplona, Spain to witness
the running of the bulls, and he acts as a mediator between
arguing friends. These characteristics reveal his strong
character built of courage and grace. Jake, as with any Code Hero,
is a man of action who spends more time achieving goals than
talking about them.

Jake's friend, Robert Cohn violates everything a Hemingway Code
Hero represents. He is rich, gifted, and skillful and is ready
to discuss his emotions in detail. Robert refuses to admit defeat
when Brett rejects him repeatedly. Unlike Jake, when Cohn is hurt,
he insists on complaining to everyone instead of suffering in
silence. Cohn does nothing to assert his masculinity, either. He
allows people, especially women to ridicule him and knock down his
self esteem. Cohn obviously can not stand up for himself and does
not take action when he should. Consequently, Robert has no self
control. When a matador sleeps with Brett, whom Cohn is in love
with, he takes out his jealousy by beating him repeatedly.
Although a man of action, Jake, the quintessential Hemingway Hero,
knows when to control himself, Robert Cohn does not.

On the whole, Jake Barnes strictly adheres to the qualities of the
typical Hemingway Code Hero. He relies solely on himself, utilizes
his assets, enjoys bullfights and other honorable activities. He
is an individual of action and speaks not of what he believes;
rather he just does what he believes to be right subtlety without
any fanfare. Jake has lived with disappointment and frustration
all his life, yet he overcomes it and uses the lesson to his
advantage. On the other hand, Robert Cohn, who has had the easy
life is the perpetual loser. He allows people to walk all over
him and continually feels sorry for himself. Robert Cohn is the
false knight, who, in theory should be the victorious protagonist
but will always turn out to be a shallow person who lives on the
fringes of life. In the end, the person who does not possess the
Code Hero qualities can never discover himself, and therefore
never truly be happy.