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Home » The Sun Also Rises: A Brief Summary of Ernest Hemingway’s Classic Novel

The Sun Also Rises: A Brief Summary of Ernest Hemingway’s Classic Novel

Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” is a classic novel that explores the lives of a group of expatriates in Paris and their journey to Pamplona, Spain for the annual bullfighting festival. The novel deals with themes of love, loss, masculinity, and the disillusionment of the “Lost Generation” after World War I. In this article, we will provide a brief summary of the novel and its major characters and themes.

The Plot

The plot of The Sun Also Rises follows a group of expatriates living in Paris and traveling to Pamplona, Spain for the annual bullfighting festival. The main character, Jake Barnes, is a journalist who was injured in World War I and is now impotent. He is in love with Lady Brett Ashley, a beautiful and independent woman who is also in love with him but cannot be with him because of his condition. The group of friends, including the wealthy and charismatic Robert Cohn, drink heavily and engage in casual relationships while in Pamplona. The bullfighting serves as a metaphor for the characters’ struggles with masculinity and their own personal demons. The novel ends with Jake and Brett parting ways, unable to be together but still deeply in love.

The Characters

The characters in The Sun Also Rises are complex and multi-dimensional, each with their own unique struggles and desires. The protagonist, Jake Barnes, is a war veteran who has been left impotent and struggles to come to terms with his lost masculinity. Lady Brett Ashley, the object of Jake’s affection, is a free-spirited woman who is torn between her love for Jake and her desire for sexual freedom. Other notable characters include Robert Cohn, a writer who is constantly searching for validation, and Mike Campbell, a wealthy and reckless friend of Jake’s. Hemingway’s masterful characterization brings these individuals to life, making them feel like real people with real problems.

The Setting

The Sun Also Rises is set in the 1920s, a time of great social and cultural change in Europe. The novel takes place primarily in Paris and Pamplona, Spain, during the annual Running of the Bulls festival. Hemingway’s vivid descriptions of the Spanish countryside and the bullfighting arena transport the reader to a world of excitement and danger. The characters move between cafes and bars, engaging in witty banter and drinking heavily. The setting of the novel reflects the disillusionment and aimlessness of the Lost Generation, a term coined by Hemingway to describe the generation of young people who came of age during World War I and felt disconnected from traditional values and beliefs. The Sun Also Rises captures the spirit of this era, with its focus on pleasure-seeking and the search for meaning in a world that seems to have lost its way.

The Themes

One of the most prominent themes in The Sun Also Rises is the concept of the “Lost Generation.” Hemingway’s characters are all struggling to find meaning and purpose in a world that has been shattered by World War I. They are disillusioned and disconnected from society, searching for something to fill the void left by the war. Another major theme is the destructive nature of love and relationships. The characters engage in a series of affairs and casual flings, but ultimately find themselves unfulfilled and emotionally damaged. Hemingway also explores the theme of masculinity and the pressure men feel to conform to traditional gender roles. The novel is a powerful commentary on the human condition, and Hemingway’s sparse, direct prose style only adds to its impact.

The Style

Ernest Hemingway’s writing style in The Sun Also Rises is often described as minimalist and straightforward. He uses short, simple sentences and avoids flowery language or excessive description. This style reflects the characters’ attitudes towards life – they are disillusioned and searching for meaning in a world that seems to lack it. Hemingway’s spare prose captures the essence of their experiences without embellishment. The dialogue is also a key element of the style, as it reveals the characters’ thoughts and emotions through their interactions with each other. Overall, Hemingway’s style in The Sun Also Rises is a perfect match for the themes and tone of the novel.

The Symbolism

The symbolism in “The Sun Also Rises” is a crucial aspect of the novel. Hemingway uses various symbols to convey deeper meanings and themes throughout the story. One of the most prominent symbols is the bullfighting, which represents the struggle between life and death. The bullfighting scenes also serve as a metaphor for the characters’ own personal battles and their attempts to find meaning in their lives. Another significant symbol is the sun, which represents hope and renewal. The characters are constantly searching for a sense of purpose and direction, and the sun serves as a reminder that there is always a new day and a chance for redemption. Overall, the symbolism in “The Sun Also Rises” adds depth and complexity to the novel, and helps to convey the themes of loss, disillusionment, and the search for meaning in life.

The Title

The title of Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel, The Sun Also Rises, is a reference to a passage from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” This passage speaks to the cyclical nature of life and the idea that while individuals may come and go, the world continues on. This theme is central to Hemingway’s novel, which explores the lives of a group of expatriates living in Paris and traveling to Pamplona, Spain for the annual bullfighting festival. Through their experiences, Hemingway examines the disillusionment and aimlessness of the “Lost Generation” in the aftermath of World War I.

The Reception

The reception of The Sun Also Rises was mixed upon its initial publication in 1926. Some critics praised Hemingway’s spare and direct prose style, while others found the characters and plot lacking in depth. However, over time the novel has become recognized as a classic of modernist literature and a defining work of the Lost Generation. Its themes of disillusionment, aimlessness, and the search for meaning in a post-World War I world continue to resonate with readers today. The Sun Also Rises has been adapted into several films and stage productions, cementing its place in the literary canon.

The Significance

The significance of The Sun Also Rises lies in its portrayal of the Lost Generation, a term coined by Gertrude Stein to describe the disillusioned and aimless young people who came of age during World War I. Hemingway’s characters, including the protagonist Jake Barnes, are all struggling to find meaning and purpose in a world that has been shattered by war. The novel also explores themes of love, masculinity, and the search for identity. Hemingway’s spare, understated prose style and his use of dialogue to reveal character make The Sun Also Rises a classic of modernist literature.

The Historical Context

The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926, a time when the world was still reeling from the aftermath of World War I. Hemingway himself was a veteran of the war, having served as an ambulance driver in Italy. The novel is set in the years immediately following the war, and its characters are all struggling to come to terms with the trauma and disillusionment they experienced during the conflict. The novel is often seen as a reflection of the “Lost Generation,” a term coined by Gertrude Stein to describe the young people who came of age during the war and felt disconnected from the values and traditions of their parents’ generation. The novel’s themes of alienation, disillusionment, and the search for meaning in a world that seems to have lost its way are all deeply rooted in the historical context of the time.

The Literary Context

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is a classic novel that is often considered one of the greatest works of American literature. The novel was published in 1926 and is set in the years following World War I. Hemingway’s writing style, which is characterized by its spare and direct prose, was a departure from the more ornate and flowery writing of the time. The Sun Also Rises is a novel that explores themes of disillusionment, masculinity, and the search for meaning in a post-war world. It is a novel that is both timeless and deeply rooted in its literary context.

The Narrative Technique

Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel, The Sun Also Rises, is known for its unique narrative technique. The story is told through the eyes of the protagonist, Jake Barnes, who is a journalist and war veteran. Hemingway uses a first-person point of view to give readers a glimpse into Jake’s thoughts and emotions. This technique allows readers to connect with Jake on a deeper level and understand his struggles with impotence and his complicated relationship with Lady Brett Ashley. Additionally, Hemingway’s sparse and straightforward writing style adds to the novel’s realism and authenticity. The narrative technique used in The Sun Also Rises is a testament to Hemingway’s skill as a writer and his ability to create complex characters that resonate with readers.

The Point of View

The Point of View in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is unique and adds to the overall impact of the novel. The story is told from the first-person point of view of Jake Barnes, a journalist and World War I veteran who is in love with Lady Brett Ashley. However, Jake is impotent due to a war injury, which complicates their relationship.

Through Jake’s perspective, the reader is able to experience the disillusionment and aimlessness of the Lost Generation, a term coined by Hemingway to describe the post-war generation. Jake’s narration is straightforward and objective, reflecting Hemingway’s signature writing style.

The use of first-person point of view also allows the reader to understand Jake’s internal struggles and emotions. We see his frustration with his impotence and his love for Brett, who is unable to commit to him. We also see his friendship with Robert Cohn, a writer who is also in love with Brett, and his interactions with other members of their group as they travel from Paris to Pamplona for the bullfighting festival.

Overall, the first-person point of view in The Sun Also Rises adds depth and complexity to the novel, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the world of the Lost Generation and the characters’ experiences.

The Conflict

The conflict in The Sun Also Rises revolves around the characters’ search for meaning and purpose in a post-World War I world. The main character, Jake Barnes, is a war veteran who has been left impotent by his injuries. He is in love with Lady Brett Ashley, a beautiful and independent woman who is unable to commit to a relationship with him due to his condition. The novel follows their group of expatriate friends as they travel from Paris to Pamplona for the annual bullfighting festival. Along the way, they drink heavily, engage in casual sex, and struggle to find a sense of direction in their lives. The conflict comes to a head during the bullfights, where the characters are forced to confront their own mortality and the emptiness of their existence. Hemingway’s spare prose and understated style capture the disillusionment and despair of a generation that has lost its way.

The Climax

The climax of The Sun Also Rises occurs when Jake and Brett finally confront their feelings for each other. After a night of heavy drinking, Brett comes to Jake’s room and they have a heart-to-heart conversation about their relationship. Jake confesses his love for Brett, but she tells him that they can never be together because of his impotence. This realization leads to a moment of intense emotional pain for Jake, and he breaks down in tears. The scene is a powerful moment in the novel, as it highlights the theme of unrequited love and the devastating effects it can have on a person’s psyche. It also marks a turning point in Jake’s character development, as he begins to come to terms with his own limitations and the reality of his situation.

The Resolution

In the resolution of The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley part ways, with Jake accepting that their relationship cannot work due to his impotence. Brett leaves for Madrid with the bullfighter Pedro Romero, while Jake returns to Paris. The novel ends with Jake reflecting on the nature of life and the importance of finding meaning in the face of adversity. Hemingway’s sparse prose and understated style leave much to the reader’s interpretation, but the novel’s themes of disillusionment, lost love, and the search for purpose continue to resonate with readers today.

The Language

Ernest Hemingway’s writing style is often described as simple and direct, and The Sun Also Rises is no exception. The language in the novel is sparse and unadorned, with short sentences and a lack of flowery language. Hemingway’s use of dialogue is particularly notable, as it often reveals more about the characters than their actions or descriptions. The characters speak in a naturalistic, colloquial style, with frequent interruptions and unfinished thoughts. This style of writing was groundbreaking at the time of the novel’s publication, and it continues to influence writers today.

The Motifs

One of the most prominent motifs in The Sun Also Rises is the idea of masculinity and its relationship to power. Hemingway’s characters are all struggling to assert their dominance in a world that has been shattered by war and social upheaval. Jake Barnes, the novel’s protagonist, is a wounded veteran who has lost his ability to perform sexually, leaving him feeling emasculated and powerless. His friend Robert Cohn, on the other hand, is constantly trying to prove his masculinity through physical violence and sexual conquests. The bullfighting scenes, which are a central part of the novel, also serve as a metaphor for the struggle for power and dominance. The bullfighter is seen as the ultimate symbol of masculinity, and the bull represents the forces that threaten to overpower him. Through these motifs, Hemingway explores the complex and often destructive nature of masculinity, and the ways in which it can both empower and destroy those who seek it.

The Irony

The irony of The Sun Also Rises lies in the fact that the characters are all searching for meaning and purpose in their lives, yet they are unable to find it. They are lost in a world that has been shattered by World War I, and they struggle to find their place in it. The characters are all disillusioned with the world around them, and they turn to alcohol, sex, and other vices to fill the void in their lives. Despite their efforts, they are unable to find the happiness and fulfillment they seek. The irony is that they are all searching for something that they cannot find, and they are all trapped in a cycle of despair and hopelessness. Hemingway’s novel is a powerful commentary on the human condition, and it reminds us that sometimes the things we seek are the very things that elude us.