Hemmingway\'s The Sun Also Rises

In the novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway describes a
couple who share a very strange and distant kind of love for each
other. This story takes place immediately after World War I, a
time of great hardship. This hardship results in a digression of
values both morally and socially. The love that Brett and Jake
share is symbolic of the general decline in values in that they
tolerate behaviors in one another that would have been previously
considered unacceptable.
It is clear that Lady Brett Ashley is anything but a lady. She
is kind and sweet but extremely vulnerable to the charm that
various men in her life seem to smother her with. Brett is not
happy with her life or her surroundings and seeks escape and
refuge in the arms of these men. But her actions seem always to
end up hurting her, and she runs back to Jake. Jake knows that he
will never be able to have her for his own, and he accepts this
as fact. This is clear when the Count asks them ³why donıt you
get married, you two? (68)² To this question, they give a lame
half hearted awnser which implies that it will never happen. He
is tolerant of her behavior because he loves her unconditionally
and is willing to overlook everything she does. Jake’s
willingness to endure and forgive Brettıs promiscuity and
infidelity is an indication of the skewed values of the age. It
was an ³anything goes² era right after the first war, and Jakeıs
message to Brett seems to be the same: anything goes as long as
you eventually come back to me.
Jake is forced to accept living in this seemingly terrible way
for more than one reason. He a weak person socially, but he is
also physically disabled because of an injury that he suffered
during the war. He suffered an injury that caused him to be
castrated. The first hint of this is when he says to Georgeette
³I was hurt in the war (24) in refrence to why they can not have
physical realtions. This injury is one that makes him insecure,
but worse than that, it allows Brett to have almost complete
control over him. Jake and Brett need each other emotionally,
but Brett feels that she needs more. As a result Jake is force to
give her up.
Jakeıs feelings toward his friend Robert Cohn are a combination
jealousy, compassion, understanding, and hate. These are a very
unusual group of feelings for a person to have toward one person,
but it was a very unusual time. Jake knew of Robertıs
relationship with Brett, and it ate him up with envy, but at the
same time he knew how it had ended. He had been close friends
with Robert, and had been through a similar situation with Brett,
so he had both compassion and understanding for Robertıs
position. The only problem was the way Robert choose to deal with
his feelings. Robert also could not stand to see Brett with
another man, but he displayed this much differently. Robertıs
presense bothered Jake even though they had been close friends.
Robert backs out of a fishing trip to find Brett, and Jakeıs
friend makes a comment about that being a good thing. Jakeıs only
reply is ³Youıre damn right(108)². Robert makes a fool out of
himself. He even beats up Jake at one point. Behavior like this
was impossible for Jake to respect and he hated this part of
Robert. None of this would have even been a problem if life
during that time had been a little more solid in a moral sense.
Brett would have not been permitted to act the way she did, while
mantaining her social status, which clearly meant a great deal to
her. She would have had to choose, and most likely her choice
would have been that of a more chaste lifestyle.
In this story, there is a very different way of life from what
people know today. The relationship that Jake and Brett share is
one that would seem completely unrealistic in todayıs time, but
to them, it was acceptable. Jake no doubt would