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the sun also rises
Summary and Analysis of Epigraph and Chapters 1-4
Hemingway prefaces the novel with two quotes, one by Gertrude Stein, painter, poet, and social center of the American expatriates in 1920s Paris, and one by Ecclesiastes from the Bible. Stein's quote proclaims that Hemingway's is a "lost generation." Her title stuck and has since defined the moral, emotional, and physical emptiness of the young post-WWI generation, devastated by war and aimlessly seeking comfort in the superficial, hedonistic atmosphere of the 1920s. The quote from Ecclesiastes compares the permanence of the earth to the transience of men; Hemingway altered the words "'The sun also riseth'" for his novel's title. In one sense, the words of Ecclesiastes are an optimistic antidote to Stein's pessimism; though Hemingway's generation may be "lost," soon mankind will find himself again ("'One generation passeth away, and another generation commeth'"). On another level, the quote embraces the rejuvenation nature offers. This promise of natural rejuvenation will play an important role in the novel.
The narrator, Jake Barnes, describes Robert Cohn, who was the middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Cohn took up boxing, though he disliked it, to compensate for the inferiority complex he developed as a Jew at Princeton. Cohn's nose was flattened while boxing, and Jake says no one he knows from Cohn's class remembers Cohn. From one of New York's richest, most prominent Jewish families, Cohn emerged from Princeton with low self-esteem, had an unsuccessful marriage, and lost most of his inheritance.
Cohn moved to California and edited and backed an arts magazine until it folded. A woman, Frances, who had been using Cohn for his rising status, moved with him to Paris so he could write a novel. There, Cohn became friends with Braddocks, his "literary" friend, and Jake, his "tennis" friend. Frances, wanting to marry Cohn, kept him on a short leash.
Cohn's time in Princeton is almost an allegory of a young soldier's going off to war: his early dreams of glory are quickly shattered, his body is physically changed (the flattened nose), and he leaves embittered. He is quickly exploited by two women, the first instance of the theme of manipulative sexuality that Hemingway will explore in greater depth.
We are also introduced into a social world of little responsibility -- Jake's crowd travels and drinks freely, Jake refers to himself as Cohn's "tennis" friend, and money is taken care of by rich relatives (Cohn is given an allowance by his mother).
Hemingway also deploys his influential style of spare, unadorned prose to good effect here; in giving a run-down of Cohn's character, Jake reveals himself as a quasi-reporter (indeed, he works for the newspaper, though not as a reporter, and Hemingway himself was a former journalist) who does not reveal much about himself. Jake doesn't even tell the reader his name -- we only find out when another character calls him by his first name -- or about his job, but lets you in on both his factual and emotional life through others.
For instance, Jake is somewhat sympathetic to the abuse and exploitation heaped on Cohn, and we intuit that Jake, too, must harbor similar feelings of inferiority. Though we know little about Jake's relationship with him so far, we will see that Jake is similar in some ways -- Cohn's flattened nose, for instance, foreshadows a less visible impairment Jake has (for Cohn, however, Jake maintains that the flattened nose has improved his appearance).
Jake recounts how Cohn left for America, sold his book to a good publisher who praised his efforts, had several affairs, and returned to Paris arrogant and rude. He strove to emulate W.H. Hudson's book, "The Purple Land," in which an Englishman has numerous romantic adventures.
One day, Cohn interrupts Jake in his newspaper office and proposes that they travel to South America, at Cohn's expense. Jake doesn't want to, but Cohn feels his life is slipping by him. Jake invites him to have a drink, since he knows he will be able to get rid of Cohn after one drink. At a caf, Cohn expresses anxiety that their lives are half-over; Jake says he doesn't worry about death. ... more
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Biographical Influences Essay of William Faulkner
William Faulkner was a quite man who rarely spoke to anyone. Although he did not graduate High School, Faulkner had an innate ability to remember even the slightest detail of things he heard. The past has always played a role in the telling of most of his stories. However, before we can understand his style of writing, it is important to understand what influences played an important role in his writings. William Faulkner was heavily influenced by his culture, love of his family, and passion for hunting to produce some of his most compelling stories.
Many people how the culture of the South and Southern history has shaped and influenced Faulkners works. I have examined this theory by looking at an important figure in Faulkners life, the "Old Colonel," Faulkners great-grandfather. Although the "Old Colonel," William Clark Faulkner, died eight years before the author was born, his legacy seemed powerful Faulkners mind. The man was not only a Civil War officer, but also a successful planter, businessman, lawyer, even author! Killed tragically in a gun battle, the legend surrounding great-grandfather must have fueled Faulkners interest in the Old South, in distant family ties reaching back through the generations, and in his own dreams of becoming a famous writer.
Faulkner grew up in Oxford, Mississippi where he remained except for brief trips to New Orleans, some youthful wanderings, and a few years in the Royal Air Force. After a promising start as a student, Faulkner began to lose interest and to do poorly in school when he entered his teens. It was at this time that he began to write poetry and short stories. In high school, he was more interested in sports and extracurricular activities than in his studies. The pattern of his writings was based upon what he saw in Oxford or remembered from his childhood; or scraps of family tradition, or in stories told by men in overalls, squatting on their heels while they passed around a fruit jar of corn liquor. All of his stories can be linked together to tell one big story of how he saw his family life, and how time has changed the South. The characters in most of his stories reflect upon real life people whom he shared his love for as a child and as an adult.
As a young boy, Faulkner would go hunting with friends. One of his favorite places to go was The Mississippi Delta. These hunting grounds provided a background for some of William Faulkners stories (Watkins 25). During his outings with another hunters, Faulkner would often sit and listen to the stories told by others. It was strongly felt that from listening to others around the campfire, he got the background for the story of Ike McCaslin and the Bear. This story expresses the great sadness of change and the terrible sorrow of the loss of the wilderness to modern times. Over time flooding, extreme levels of snow, and high water began to change the wilderness and after time it became civilized.
Time and place have been important in Faulkners works. If they were removed, we cant imagine what his fiction would be like. Much of the excellence in his works was derived from Oxford and Lafayette County and their traditions, and the past. Nearly all of Faulkners fictional works have as their setting this imaginary place, which Faulkner weaved not only from his own experiences growing up in Oxford, Mississippi, but also from the rich culture of his great-grandfather, the love of his family, and his desire for hunting.
Cullen John B. Old Times in the Faulkner Country. Louisiana State University Press. 1975.
The Mississippi Writers Page. The University of Mississippi. 06 Feb. 2001 *http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/faulkner_william/bib.html*. ... more
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