The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway: A Summary

The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway: A Summary

Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” stands as a seminal work in 20th-century American literature. It vividly portrays the “Lost Generation,” a post-World War I generation, against a European backdrop encompassing Paris and Spain. Hemingway’s concise prose, layered with subtext, invites readers to delve into the characters’ unspoken emotions. The story skillfully intertwines themes of love, disillusionment, masculinity, and the lingering effects of war, providing a timeless examination of the human experience.


Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” delves into the disillusionment and moral decay of the post-World War I era, frequently labeled as the “Lost Generation.” Narrated by Jake Barnes, an American journalist residing in Paris, the novel orbits his circle of expatriate companions, notably the captivating yet troubled Lady Brett Ashley and the impetuous and occasionally reckless Robert Cohn.

The story traces these individuals as they undertake a voyage from Paris to Pamplona, Spain, to partake in the exhilarating tradition of the running of the bulls. Along the way, they indulge in excessive drinking and aimless conduct, all while wrestling with their inner emptiness and ethical decline. Jake, the central character, ardently loves Brett, but a war-inflicted injury has rendered him impotent, giving rise to the prevailing theme of unreciprocated love.

The characters’ quest for meaning occurs within the context of the 1920s, a period marked by excess, hedonism, and profound disillusionment after the war. “The Sun Also Rises” delves into themes of lost love, masculinity, identity, and the complexities of the human condition.

“The Sun Also Rises” is renowned for its concise and economical prose, a hallmark of Hemingway’s writing style. The novel takes its title from the Bible, more precisely the Book of Ecclesiastes, serving as a representation of the characters’ pursuit of significance in a seemingly aimless world.

While the characters travel from Paris to Pamplona, their experiences mirror the broader societal disillusionment felt by their generation. Hemingway’s depiction of the Lost Generation remains a potent and lasting commentary on the moral void and disillusionment that many experienced in the aftermath of World War I.

The novel’s examination of love, loss, and the human condition endures in the hearts of readers, solidifying “The Sun Also Rises” as a timeless classic in American literature and a pivotal work of the 20th century.

Characters in The Sun Also Rises

Jake Barnes: The novel’s central character and narrator, Jake, is an American journalist living in Paris. He is deeply in love with Lady Brett Ashley but is rendered impotent by a war injury. Jake embodies the sense of aimlessness and moral bankruptcy felt by many of his generation.

Lady Brett Ashley: Brett is an Englishwoman who is both beautiful and fiercely independent. She is in love with Jake but cannot be with him due to his impotence. Brett lives life to the fullest, indulging in alcohol and parties and engaging in numerous affairs with various men, including Robert Cohn.

Robert Cohn: A wealthy American writer, Cohn is a former boxer and a graduate of Princeton. He engages in a tumultuous affair with Brett, which causes tension among their group of friends. Cohn struggles with his temper and his place in the world.

Mike Campbell: A Scottish war veteran and one of Jake’s closest friends, Mike is engaged to Brett but is fully aware of her love for Jake. He often contends with his volatile personality and frequently clashes with Cohn.

Bill Gorton: Bill is another of Jake’s close friends and also an American war veteran. His humorous and easygoing nature provides a stark contrast to the other characters’ complexities and anxieties.

Pedro Romero: A young and immensely talented bullfighter from Spain, Romero captures Brett’s attention, leading to an affair between them. His remarkable skill, honor, and dignity stand in stark contrast to the disillusionment of the other characters.

Frances Clyne: Frances is Robert Cohn’s fiancée, an attractive woman who becomes possessive and jealous. Her insecurity and controlling tendencies strain her relationship with Cohn.

[You can Also Read: The Pillars of the Earth: An Epic Exploration]

Exploring the Profound Themes of “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s literary masterpiece, “The Sun Also Rises,” remains a lasting and significant work, revered for its groundbreaking style and its enduring exploration of profound themes that continue to resonate with readers. In this analysis, we shall delve into the pivotal themes that underscore the novel’s lasting influence:

The Lost Generation: “The Sun Also Rises” introduces readers to the cohort that came of age amidst the turmoil of World War I, recognized as the “Lost Generation.” Within the novel, its characters, including a substantial contingent of war veterans, grapple with overwhelming disillusionment and an acute moral disorientation. The war has indelibly altered the course of their lives, propelling them on a quest for meaning in an era marked by a deep spiritual void.

Disillusionment and Identity Crisis: The characters within the story find themselves adrift in a world that has lost its coherence. Their disillusionment intensifies as they grapple with the quest for identity and meaning. The main character, Jake Barnes, encapsulates this theme with his war-inflicted impotence, symbolizing the broader challenges of emasculation and identity crises experienced by the Lost Generation.

The Pursuit of Pleasure: The characters’ existence revolves around hedonism and an unwavering quest for enjoyment. Alcohol and revelry become their chosen avenues for evading inner turmoil and facing disillusionment head-on. The novel starkly depicts the extravagance of the “Roaring Twenties” and the desensitizing outcomes of escapism.

The Power of Love and Unrequited Passion: At the heart of the novel is the poignant and unfulfilled love between Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. Their passionate but ultimately unconsummated love serves as a symbol of the unattainable and speaks to the larger theme of longing and desire that courses through the novel.

Cultural Exploration: “The Sun Also Rises” also serves as a vivid exploration of cultural contrasts, as it follows American and British expatriates living in Europe, particularly in Paris and during their journey to Pamplona, Spain. The novel examines the clash of cultures, attitudes, and expectations that the characters encounter as they navigate an ever-changing world.

Nature and Escape: The characters’ trip to Pamplona, Spain, for the annual running of the bulls, serves as a metaphorical journey. It represents the characters’ quest for a more authentic and fulfilling existence. The natural world and the intensity of the bullfight become a reflection of their struggles and search for meaning.

The Modernist Style: Hemingway’s writing style in this novel is a hallmark of modernist literature. His concise and minimalist prose captures the essence of the character’s emotions, reflecting the inner complexity of the human psyche.

Within “The Sun Also Rises,” Hemingway skillfully intertwines these themes, crafting a narrative that consistently engrosses readers with its profound and contemplative exploration of the human experience. This novel remains a lasting tribute to the enduring battles and ambitions of the Lost Generation, offering a reflection of the perpetual trials related to identity, love, and disillusionment.

[You can Also Read: The Secret Garden: A Literary Analysis]

Certainly, here are some memorable quotes from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”:

  • “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”
  • “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
  • “I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not living it.”
  • “The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed animals.”
  • “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bullfighters.”
  • “Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it?”
  • “You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafés.”
  • “One drink is all right. Two is too many, and three is not enough.”
  • “I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”
  • “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, many are strong in the broken places.”

These quotes capture the essence of the novel’s themes, including disillusionment, the search for meaning, and the complex relationships between the characters.

Arjun Kumar

I’m a writer specializing in business content. I have 5-plus years of experience in the content marketing world. I’ve worked with various companies in a variety of industries, from news articles to technical articles. I have gained the skills to present helpful content to all precious audiences of the site. My only moto is to build trust, maintain worth and provide interesting content to the people