The United States in the 1920s was a land of change. The recent end to a horrific war brought about a change in life, culture and perception. Those who returned from the war had their view on life shattered and changed completely. This change of awareness is evident in the literature following World War I. Authors such as Ernest Hemingway demonstrated what many were experiencing with the short sentences and tough prose found in his novels. His first and defining novel, The Sun Also Rises, was written in 1926. Hemingway uses foils to develop flawed characters and convey a message of what the “Lost Generation” experiences in The Sun Also Rises.
World War I was a war in which much
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To accompany his insecurities and feeling of inadequacy, Jake is faced with the issue of homosexuality. Early in the novel, Jake gets in a confrontation with “men in jerseys” at a Paris dance hall. These men are presumably homosexual. Ira Elliot brings up the point that Jake is a heterosexual in desire and a homosexual as far as having relations with women go. He is bound by his injury, and can not take part in “masculine activities.” Because of this, he feels distanced from the rest of society and his companions, adding to his dissolution (Elliott 340).
What Jake experienced in the war, and the devastating injury he received had left him lost. He struggles to figure out how to live in the changing world and how to cope with the emasculation. What makes matters worse is that the woman he loves, Brett, can not deal with his injury. In the following passage, Jake begs her to live with him and devote to him, but she replies that the way things are it would be impossible:
“Couldn’t we live together Brett? Couldn’t we just live together?”
“I don’t think so. I’d just tromper you with everybody. You couldn’t stand it.”
“I stand it now.”
“That would be different. It’s not my fault Jake. It’s the way I’m made.” (62)
Brett’s blatant statement that Jake can not satisfy her sexual desires only adds to Jake’s feelings of insufficiency. Both of the main obstacles to Jake and Brett are presented here also.