Hemingway’s “ Lost Generation”


Period 3 English


The hardship and poverty caused as a result of the war sent many poets, artists, and writers searching for new standards throughout the roaring twenties. “Post World War I, countless intellectual Americans rejecting materialism, American values, and seeking a bohemian lifestyle, fled to France congregating within Paris”(Essortment). Among these intellectuals was perhaps one of the most preeminent writers of the era, Ernest Hemingway. Many critics believe Hemingway had no moral, ethical, or social principles and that he was in many ways the founder of the “ Lost Generation.” Breaking traditions and capturing the freedom to experiment, Hemingway used an authentic event on which to base his novel “The Sun Also Rises.” Through the characters and setting of The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway explores the aimlessness and, disillusionment as well as the break from tradition that represented the “ Lost Generation.”


World War I corrupted for many the feeling that hard work and moral values in a person would bring good things. In The Sun Also Rises our main character finds this oh so true. Jake Barnes is an American and has been physically damage by the war. Before he understands the extent of his injury he has fallen in love with a women that is tending him. Upon the realization he can never have a normal relationship with a woman they both decide to end the affair. “They fell in love, and their relationship apparently deepened until he learned that he was impotent, at which point they thought it best to go their separate ways”(Cambridge Companion p90). Unfortunately it was too late, both Jake and Brett have experienced a love that they felt could not be replaced. Jake’s tells the rest of the story with disillusionment and pain. “ As he says about himself, all he wants is to figure out how he can live in the world”(Cambridge Companion p90).


Jake goes to Europe to heal. To try and create a new meaning of manhood – a new set of values. “He loves Paris, derives satisfaction from his profession, and knows how to enjoy even the simple things in life”(Cambridge Companion pg 92). And he is successful until he runs into Brett again and she shares with him her feelings, her inability to find happiness with another. The old emotions are again brought to the surface and Jake is willing to compromise any stability he may have gained since their last meet. “To the extent that he lives in a man’s world, his life is satisfying enough, but his deepest feelings are for Brett Ashley”(Cambridge Companion pg92).


In an effort to be in someway a part of Brett’s life Jake remains a friend, a friend willing to compromise his values and standards when necessary. Knowing that his companionship is not enough to keep her satisfied, Jake does just that. He sits back and watches the woman he loves become involved with other men. “This injury is one that makes him insecure, but worse than that, it allows Brett to have almost complete control over him”(studyworld). Jake’s unconditional love for Brett puts him in many situations where he tests his moral and emotional strength. And at times he compromises others around him to satisfy Brett’s needs. Jake operates aimlessly struggling to make sense of the consequences brought on by his tolerates behavior of one Brett Ashley.


As Jake tends to Brett, he tries to make sense of the fact that he will never have a wife or children and that the brief moments with Brett are all he will ever have of a love affair. These emotions again keep Jake in a constant state of aimlessness. Attempting to live a so-called normal life he struggle to understand how he got to where he is right now.


Jake compromises his values once again when Brett falls in lust with the bullfighter. This time Jake not only hurts himself but also the traditional, structured world of Spain. Briefly compromised by the temptress “Brett” the bullfighter is spared. Jake once a Catholic attempts to call on his adolescent structure. He goes into a church and prays, something he has not done in quite a while. Again aimlessly and with disillusionment Jake continues to sort out the new values in