Love in The Sun Also Rises
In the novel The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway describes a couple who share a very strange and distant kind of love for each other. This story takes place immediately after World War I, a time of great hardship. This hardship results in a digression of values both morally and socially. The love that Brett and Jake share is symbolic of the general decline in values in that they tolerate behaviors in one another that would have been previously considered unacceptable.
It is clear that Lady Brett Ashley is anything but a lady. She is kind and sweet but extremely vulnerable to the charm that various men in her life seem to smother her with. Brett is not happy with her life or her surroundings and seeks escape and refuge in the arms of these men. But her actions seem always to end up hurting her, and she runs back to Jake. Jake knows that he will never be able to have her for his own, and he accepts this as fact. This is clear when the Count asks them “why don’t you get married, you two? (68)” To this question, they give a lame half hearted answer which implies that it will never happen. He is tolerant of her behavior because he loves her unconditionally and is willing to overlook everything she does. Jake’s willingness to endure and forgive Brett?s promiscuity and infidelity is an indication of the skewed values of the age. It was an ?anything goes? era right after the first war, and Jake’s message to Brett seems to be the same: anything goes as long as you eventually come back to me.
Jake is forced to accept living in this seemingly terrible way for more than one reason. He a weak person socially, but he is also physically disabled because of an injury that he suffered during the war. He suffered an injury that caused him to be castrated. The first hint of this is when he says to Georgeette “I was hurt in the war” (24) in refrence to why they can not have physical realtions. This injury is one that makes him insecure, but worse than that, it allows Brett to have almost complete control over him. Jake and Brett need each other emotionally, but Brett feels that she needs more.