The Sun Also Rises Analytical Essay Thesis

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Dec 3, 2011   #4

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Drinking to cope: An Analysis of The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway documents the "Lost Generation" excessive drinking to cope with the disillusionment of society. The characters can't find meaning or reason in heir traumatic wartime experiences. Jake states, "It was in reality a calamity for civilization and perhaps would have better avoided" (Hemingway 25). Without the belief in religion, love, justice and morality to guide the characters they rely on partying and drinking to fill the void. Yet it doesn't seem to help! Therefore, it can be suggested that in The Sun Also Rises the characters drinking is an ineffective method to cope with the feeling that life is meaningless. Hemingway suggests it is better to address the underlying psychological issues to find fulfillment.

Why is drinking an ineffective coping strategy? While drinking numbs the characters it doesn't allow them to forget about the painful memories of war. Jake is particularly affected by his physical injuries sustained. He is constantly traumatized by the injury that left him impotent. Hemingway uses a number of techniques to show the effects on Jake. Phallic symbols and steers reinforce Jakes impotence. Hemingway also shows how self medication fails to provide relief. Often after drinking at the cafes and bars he ends up alone. In his apartment he stares at the ceiling crying and thinking about the cause of his injury. Jake couldn't stop thinking about his experience in Italy. (38-39). In this sense alcohol provides the trigger for his distress.

In addition, alcohol fails to provide an appropriate release. This causes the characters to keep their emotions bottled up. As the novel progresses the drinking increases. This suggests that the characters are self medicating in response to an increase in inner anxiety. Jake and Bill display signs of passive aggressive behavior. They mock the war and disregarding the customs of the local people in Pamplona. More overt are the actions of Mike. Since Alcohol is a depressant it increases his angry outburst towards Cohen and Brett. The Festival culminates when Cohen beats up Jake, Mike, and Pedro Romero. Jake says, "Things that happened could only have happened during the fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences" (Hemingway 158). Thus, emotions are repressed by drinking alcohol.

By relying on alcohol to relieve stress, the characters lack control over their lives. In particular, Jake shows a rigid pattern in which he is unable to confront his problem. Through Hemingway, Jake is shown as a victim. The irony is he relies solely on drinking to cope. According to Psychologist such as Myers "Helpless, oppressed people often perceive that control is external, and this perception may deepen their feelings of resignation" (Myers 436). This theory explains Jakes inability to cope. Mike contrasts Jake in his awareness that alcohol is not the solution, but seems unwilling to change. It can be concluded the characters follow a cyclic pattern in which they are unable to confront their problems due to a perception they lack control.

Hemingway shows that it is better to address the underlying psychological issues to find fulfillment. In The Sun also Rises underlying issues due to physical and psychological trauma are solely responsible for the characters use of alcohol. It is those issues that must be healed rather than relying on maladaptive use of alcohol. This will allow them to regain control, reduce their anxiety and gain a sense of inner peace. More importantly the symptoms of alcohol abuse will go away since nothing is left to drive them.

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

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?

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.

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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