The Sun Also Rises

Lady Brett Ashley: The Real Code Hero

The Hemingway code hero is almost always a man, but in The Sun Also Rises, the real code hero is lead female Brett Ashley. From her cropped hair to her penchant for partying, Lady Brett Ashley is more code hero-like than any of her fellow expatriates, including male leads Jake Barnes and Robert Cohn.

Aside from her boyish mannerisms -- from her “man’s hat” to her habit of referring to herself as a “chap” -- Ashley is, as a woman, ironically one of the manliest characters.

Who is Hemingway’s ideal man? He has a Brit’s stiff upper lip, and can handle women, alcohol, and life’s misfortunes equally well. He lives his life to the fullest. Brett is all of these and more. Contrary to her carefree and fun-loving personality, she has not had an easy life. Her first (and perhaps true) love died in the war, and her second husband (Lord Ashley) was an intimidating, paranoid man who slept with a loaded gun under his pillow and forced Brett to sleep on the floor. Yet Brett does not parade these events; instead, when confronted by others, she uses her catchphrase: “Don’t let’s talk about it.”

Another common trait of the code hero -- proving his “manliness” -- is his many romantic affairs. Lady Ashley certainly behaves like a man in this...

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