Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is a work which weaves together many themes and gives life to the era of disillusionment, ambiguity, the modern world, and sexuality. As a whole, sexuality can be described in terms of who one is sexually attracted to. A major focus of this lens is homosexuality, but it is not limited to just that. This literary criticism can include the behaviors of heterosexuals as well and how their acts tie into the machine of the “invisible center,” or societal normalcy (Davies). These norms are defined by the unseen majority—the white, heterosexual, middle class male. Females may also be included in the majority if they meet all of the other criteria for the sake of examining sexuality in this essay. The very visible outliers of the norm include any group that is unlike the center. Here, it is those who act differently than their heterosexual counterparts (all whom have specific ways they are expected to act sexually, or they get ostracized.) Analyzing Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises through the lens of sexuality proves to be valuable in understanding how sexuality defined WWI’s so-called lost generation.
Hemingway has always been known for his portrayal of masculinity. In a time where things were becoming slightly more socially lenient than in the Victorian Era, there was still a heavy rejection of men that didn’t fit the criteria for the archetype of masculinity. Jake Barnes, the main character in this novel, gives a perfect example of this when he sees two homosexual men at a night club with his ex-lover, Brett. “I saw white hands, wavy hair, white faces, grimacing, gesturing, talking… I was very angry. Somehow they always made me angry. I know they are supposed to be amusing, and you should be toler…
… thread throughout literature. Not only does this say something about society as a whole, but about the individual who interprets identity for themselves and for others around them.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner, 1996. Print.
Bertens, Hans. “Sexuality, Literature, and Culture.” Literary Theory: The Basics. 3rd ed. N.p.:Taylor and Francis, 2013. 195-98. Print.
Davies, Ashley. “Sexuality Theory.” 20th Century Fiction Class. Colorado, Fort Collins.10 Apr. 2014. Lecture.
Puckett, James A. “Sex Explains It All.” Studies In American Naturalism 8.2 (2013): 125-149.Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
“Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises – The Male Characters Hemingway Sun Also RisesEssays.” Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises – The Male Characters Hemingway SunAlso Rises Essays. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.