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The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway

A Note on the Epigraph

Themes, Motifs & Symbols

Chapters I–II

Gertrude Stein was an avant-garde American poet at the center of a group of painters and expatriate writers living in Paris after World War I. Among those in her circle were the artist Pablo Picasso and the writers Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway. Stein named the generation that came of age during World War I the “lost generation.” The world quickly adopted the phrase as the most accurate description of the generation that passed through the threshold of adulthood at this time—working, fighting, or dying in the war. The horrific conflict shattered this generation’s faith in traditional values such as love, bravery, manhood, and womanhood. Without these values, the members of this generation found their existence aimless, meaningless, and unfulfilling. It is these men and women that Hemingway portrays in The Sun Also Rises.

Before the novel opens, Hemingway quotes Stein and a biblical passage from Ecclesiastes. The passage contrasts the transient nature of human generations with the eternal survival of nature: the world endures, and the sun continues to rise and set despite the inevitable passage of each human generation into death. Hemingway’s juxtaposition of the two epigraphs produces an ambivalent tone. On the one hand, there is hope, because there will be a new generation after the aimless generation that populates The Sun Also Rises. On the other hand, there is bitter irony, since every generation is lost, in the sense that each generation will eventually die.

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raising the baton in the last paragraph

by shishijoy, August 20, 2012

I believe that the raised baton also refers to the fact that Jake is impotent and he and Brett will never have the relationship that they both desire.


36 out of 48 people found this helpful

Brett- a personification of "need to believe in something" element within Jake

by matt_estrada, June 07, 2015

Ernest Hemingway stated, concerning this book, that “‘The Sun Also Rises’ is a damn tragedy with the earth abiding as hero forever”. Unfortunately, we have not really understood how he explained this in his writings because we have not understood the character of Brett- what she symbolizes- in this novel. Brett is not to be seen as a separate, individual character in her own right but rather she symbolizes an element within another character. We can only understand the true significance of Hemingway’s declaration if we begin to see... Read more


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