The Sun Also Rises

Resistance of Gender Norms in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises College

In The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway seeks to address changes of life and attitudes following World War I through the disjointed lens of the narrator, Jake Barnes. Told through his stream of consciousness, the novel investigates psychological aimlessness and alienation resulting from a tangible sense of trauma as well as its problematic means of repeating itself. The sense of loss, disjointedness, and wandering in conjunction with a challenge of pre-war ideas is central to Hemingway’s work and ultimately classifies it as a Modernist text. Jake exposes the activities of his group of “friends” within the Parisian expatriate society, characterized by their constant drinking and mindless travel from place to place. Both by literal and situational means, Hemingway’s masculinity (or lack thereof) asserts itself boldly through Jake in both his prose and micro-aggressions towards other characters. Juxtaposed to Jake’s self-loathing and feminine atrophy is Lady Brett Ashley, the central female antagonist with arguably some of the most “masculine” behaviors. Specifically, Brett depicts the “New Woman” in response to shell shock, or post-traumatic stress disorder, both exemplifying and challenging changing gender and sexual ideals.

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