Sun Also Rises Critical Essay

Book Description:

In the eight decades since its publication, Hemingway's ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ like a Rorschach blot, has measured not only critics' opinions of Hemingway but also the critical temper of the times. An initial reviewer saw the book as a satire on American expatriates, an unflattering portrait of wastrels and a nymphomaniac wandering Europe. Other critics of the time saw it as a reflection of post-First World War malaise, inscribing for history the Lost Generation - those critics, that is, who took it as a serious literary effort and did not simply dismiss it as pornographic, as Hemingway's own parents did. Since then the novel has been interpreted, variously, as a study of an impotent man's existential dilemma, re-read as a modern-day version of the Fisher King myth, attacked by feminist critics as the macho diatribe of a misogynist, and, most recently, seen as a study of gender roles and the performance of masculinity. There is no other book that surveys the entire span of ‘The Sun Also Rises’ criticism, documents the fashionable waves in which criticism has travelled, and points out how each age interprets the novel to suit itself, reflecting the cultural concerns of the moment. Peter Hays is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of California, Davis.

eISBN: 978-1-57113-776-0

Subjects: Language & Literature

Topic #1
Show how Hemingway uses setting to demonstrate his characters’ moral and ethical standards.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Hemingway uses a variety of settings to demonstrate various characters’ attitudes about life.

II. Paris
A. Excessive drinking
B. No religion
C. Idle rich
D. Abnormal sexual practices

III. Pamplona
A. Bullfighting
B. Cathedrals along countryside
C. Aficiónados

IV. Burguete
A. Fishing
B. Communing with nature
C. Harris

V. San Sebastian
A. Relaxation
B. Swimming
C. Bicycle race

VI. Madrid
A. All roads lead there
B. Comes to terms with Brett
C. Goes to Brett’s rescue

Topic #2
Show how Stein’s “lost generation” is represented in the novel. How does Hemingway feel about them?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: By focusing on various characters’ injuries, Hemingway shows the lack of productivity and morals of the “lost generation.”

II. Jake
A. War injury
B. Impotent
C. Unable to satisfy his true love

III. Brett
A. Lost love
B. Alcoholic
C. Cannot find/keep true love
D. In abusive relationships

IV. Count Mippopolous
A. War injury
B. Self-satisfying
C. Shallow

V. Michael
A. War injury
B. Alcoholic
C. Financially bankrupt
D. Morally bankrupt
E. Mean to Robert

Topic #3
Show how Hemingway uses religion to demonstrate Jake’s code and his violation of it.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Hemingway uses a religious framework to develop Jake’s code and his violation of it.

II. Fishing in Burguete
A. Communion-like scene
B. Appreciation of nature
C. Simplicity of desires

III. Catholicism
A. On train to Burguete
B. Jake’s praying
C. Various cathedrals
D. Jake’s religion of record

IV. Pedro
A. Priest figure
B. Leader of three matadors
C. Aficiónado
D. Monastic room

V. Brett
A. Mary Magdalene figure
B. Sees she deserves Mike, not Romero
C. Tries to pray for Romero
D. Unable to make inner conversion

VI. Montoya
A. Laying on of hands
B. Secret with Jake
C. Aficiónado
D. Disapproves of Jake’s sin

VII. Bullfighting
A. Ritualistic
B. Spiritually awakening
C. Accompanied by extreme emotion

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