Critical Analysis on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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Criticism Of the Novel

Whereas A Farewell to Arms describes Hemingway hero’s sense of alienation with his illusion of becoming the saviour of mankind and his acute consciousness of death, the central concern of The Sun Also Rises is the hero’s subsequent struggle to get over the depression of his alienation and learn to live in a world that “kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially”[7 ].

Many critics have regarded the novel as a static picture of the modern “wasteland”. Critics like R.W. Stallman; Philip Young etc., consider Jake as a representative of the sterile land, the wasteland; he is viewed as a representative of the “lost generation”, a sun gone down, never hoping to rise again. While, on the one hand, Shakespeare’s heroes and heroines are persons of consequences on whom depends the destruction or reconstruction of order in the whole society. Hemingway’s characters, on the other hand, are modern isolates who destroy or restore their own houses that are their personalities. As we see them at the end of the novel, both Brett and Jake seem to have set their house in order. The climax of the development of both these two characters comes in their self-denial: As Jake denies himself the desire to possess Brett, so does Brett let go of Romero whom she so much wanted to have.

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In this way, after making a close scrutiny of the novel, The Sun Also Rises, we can safely and rightly conclude that not that the heroes of Hemingway’s novels are basically unsocial or anti-society, rather they have seen through the realities of social life around them. It is their discovery of their hollowness and vicariousness that has made them disengage their fidelity from the group. The reality of this world is that faith in religion and God is usually disappointing; the prevailing ethics and social conventions are a sham and virtue and morality are mere cloaks for unashamed defiance of all basic principles of honesty, loyalty and righteousness. Hemingway knew that the entire might of the social machinery comes into action against the innocent joys and aspiration of an individual’s sentiments, which taken singly, every individual member of the social mass, holds dear to his heart. The most heinous crimes are committed in the name of religion and God and justice and pateridtism. Countries with ‘Thou shalt not kill’ as their basic religious commandments gave the desolation and man-slaughter of the First World War. Glory here lies in successfully perpetrating inglorious deeds on weaker people. Patriotism and sacrifice do not mean the laying down of one’s life at the alter of one’s motherland or of any noble cause. They simply mean paying tribute to the mean, self-seeking and ambitious schemes of mischievous and corrupt politicians. With such injustice, cruelty and moral chaos prevailing and also thriving in the world, it is too heavy a weight on one’s faith to believe that the world is ruled by a God who is just, merciful and omnipotent. Prayers to him are of no avail and people wearing the sacred. Hearts of Jesus and Saint Anthony are shot. The words sacred and holy sounds hallow and embarrass one. Even if one were to have the ingenuity to steal a little individual happiness from this world and to retire with a lone corner to remain with it forever, one’s plans are still beyond to be smashed by the hostile forces of fate or nature. We can wind up the discussion by saying that Hemingway’s depiction of their predicament is truly representative of the predicament of the existence of all the members of human society taken individually since society is the perfect representation of the real scene prevailing in the whole world. In this connection, the following criterion is fully applicable to Hemingway: “A novel is not life but an image of life, an author’s selective interpretation concretely embodied. Every selection from the whole of actuality is an interpretation of the whole of actuality.”[11]

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Critical Analysis on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
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