The Expatriotes in Paris and Hemingway`s Reflections in "The Sun Also Rises"

Seminar Paper, 1997

17 Pages, Grade: Good



1.0 Prologue

2.0 Ernest Hemingway - A Short Biography
2.1 Early Life
2.2 World War I
2.3 The Twenties
2.4 The Thirties
2.5 Later Life
2.6 Literary Biography

3.0 Analysis of The Sun Also Rises, Book I 9
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Description of Paris
3.3 The “Lost Generation”
3.4 The War

4.0 Character Analysis
4.1 Jake Barnes
4.2 Brett
4.3 Robert Cohn
4.4 Minor Characters

5.0 Epilogue

5.0 Literature

1.0 Prologue

All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation... You have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death.1

In The Sun Also Rises, the problem is that of the "Lost Generation" - the youth who fought in World War I and are unable to adjust to the demands of the following decade, the twenties, as a result of their traumatic experiences.

With this paper we would like to point out how the expatriates lived in Paris and how this is worked out in Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises. Therefore we first of all present a flashback on Hemingway’s life and works - with special regard to the time he spent in Paris - by providing both a biography and a survey of works by and about him. Secondly, we are going to focus on the First Book of The Sun Also Rises, describing Paris at that time and discussing the term “Lost Generation” and the relation to World War I. In a last step we are going to concentrate on an analysis of the characters featuring in The Sun Also Rises.

2.0 Ernest Hemingway

The first part of this paper (2.1 - 2.6) is to introduce you to the life of Ernest Hemingway by providing a short biography. To give a better overview especially about his numerous literary works, a separate literary biography follows afterwards (2.7).

2.1 Early Life

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, a small, middle-class suburb of Chicago. Nothing in his early background indicated the bold writing he was to employ in his novels. As the second of six children, Hemingway led a normal, active life of a schoolboy: although not especially popular, he took part in sports, debates, the school orchestra, wrote for and edited the school newspaper. Summers were spent outdoors in northern Michigan at a family camp. However, tensions evidently existed between the parents. Dr. Clarence E. Hemingway, a physician and enthusiastic nature lover, infused the young Ernest with a love for hunting, fishing, and the natural life which he never abandoned. Grace Hall Hemingway, very pious and very active in church affairs, tried to interest the son in music and cultural pursuits; for example, Ernest had to play the cello. Although he ran away from home twice, and worked at a number of odd jobs, the young Hemingway saw his chance at escape from family and small-town pressures only when the United States entered World War I in 1917. He immediately volunteered but was rejected because of an eye injury. Nevertheless, he was accepted as an ambulance driver on the Italian front in early 1918.

2.2 Word War I

Hemingway's experiences in World War I fashioned much of his personal and literary outlook for the rest of his life. After leaving his job as a reporter on the “Kansas City Star” to join the ambulance corps in Italy, he was abruptly and brutally introduced to the facts of war. He witnessed a munitions explosion in Milan upon his arrival, and on July 8, 1918, just before his nineteenth birthday, he was severely wounded. He underwent twelve operations for removal of two hundred or so fragments of mortar shell but returned to the war as an infantry officer with the Italian Army. Two medals were awarded Hemingway by the Italian Government for his bravery during World War I. These experiences are vividly reflected in A Farewell To Arms in his hero, Frederic Henry, the depiction of war at close hand, and the whole attitude of Hemingway towards war and men at war. In The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes, the hero, also somewhat resembles Hemingway in his military service.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

2.3 The Twenties

Hemingway's restlessness in the period between the end of World War I and the publication of A Farewell To Arms becomes apparent in his many and varied activities during these ten years. His portrait of the expatriates in Paris and Spain in The Sun Also Rises is based on his own manifold contacts during the twenties. He married Hadley Richardson in 1921 but they were divorced in 1927 although he dedicated The Sun Also Rises to her in the previous year; and in 1927 he married Pauline Pfeiffer. Hemingway worked for the “Toronto Star” and “Star Weekly” from 1920 until 1924. In 1921 he returned to Europe and traveled widely throughout the continent. He fell in love with Spain, which figures so prominently in his writings, during the twenties. His penchant for action was stimulated by his covering of the Greco-Turkish War, and the Greek retreat from Smyrna may be an antecedent for the Italian debacle of Caporetto, portrayed in A Farewell To Arms. Hemingway also covered the international events of this decade and met world statesmen, such as Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Mussolini. Hemingway early grasped the dangers of Fascism and wrote scathingly of the Italian dictator whom he disliked immediately. In 1924 he settled in Paris to devote himself to his own writing and was introduced through Sherwood Anderson to the influential circle of Gertrude Stein. Her influence is noticeable in The Sun Also Rises at the very beginning when Hemingway quotes her as a motive for the book "You are all a lost Generation."

Meanwhile, his stories had started to appear in magazines such as Atlantic Monthly. He published Three Stories And Ten Poems in 1923; In Our Time, a compendium of stories and vignettes, in 1924; the expanded version of these Nick Adams stories, In Our Time, in the United States in 1925; The Torrents 0f Spring, a satirical, unsuccessful novel in the same year as The Sun Also Rises, 1926; and A Farewell To Arms in 1929. His father's suicide in 1928 affected him greatly.

2.4 The Thirties

Hemingway's reputation mounted during these years, and as he entered the public limelight, the problem of distinguishing between the artist, the legend, and the man began to emerge. He traveled a great deal and used his trips to good advantage in the writings. He published thirty-one articles and stories in Esquire; Death In The Afternoon in 1932 and Winner Take Nothing in 1933; and The Green Hills 0f Africa in 1935. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Hemingway went to Spain as a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance. His sympathies were on the side of the Loyalists against the forces of Franco. In 1937 he published more stories, To Have And Have Not; in 1938 Hemingway published The Fifth Column And The First Forty-Nine Stories - a volume containing the title play, and all the stories of his previous collections, in addition to seven published but uncollected tales. In 1940 he wrote a novel about the Spanish Civil War, For Whom The Bell Tolls, which had great success. Divorced again that year, he married Martha Gellhorn in 1940.

2.5 Later Life

Hemingway eagerly looked forward to action in World War II: he maintained an anti- submarine patrol in Cuban waters and planned to decoy submarines with his own boat. Obviously restless in Cuba, where he had settled after 1940, Hemingway went again as a war correspondent to France where he organized a group of irregulars. For example, he entered Paris among the first in August of 1944 and "liberated" the Ritz Hotel where he posted a guard with the notification: "Papa took good hotel. Plenty stuff in cellar." His third marriage ended in divorce in 1944 and he married Mary Welsh. "Papa" Hemingway also had three children from his four marriages: John by the first, Patrick and Gregory by the second. After the war, Hemingway published Across The River And Into The Trees, a novel about World War I, which was bitterly attacked by the critics. However, in 1952, he wrote The Old Man And The Sea, a story generally acclaimed as one of his finest. He survived an airplane crash in 1954, the year he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. His injuries had taken their toll, and Hemingway died of a "self-inflicted gunshot wound" on July 2, 1961 in his home at Ketchum, Idaho.

2.6 Literary Biography


- Three Stories and Ten Poems, 1923

- In our time, 1924

- In Our Time, 1925
- The Torrents of Spring, 1926
- The Sun Also Rises (Fiesta in Britain), 1926
- Men Without Women, 1927
- A Farewell to Arms, 1929
- Death in the Afternoon, 1932
- Winner Take Nothing, 1933
- Green Hills of Africa, 1935
- To Have and Have Not, 1937
- The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories, 1938
- For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1940
- Across the River and into the Trees, 1950
- The Old Man and the Sea, 1952

Post-humously published

- The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War, 1969
- Island in the Stream, 1970


- The Wild Years (articles written for the Toronto Star), 1962
- A Moveable Feast, 1964

Books About Ernest Hemingway

- Lynn, Kenneth S. Hemingway, 1987
- Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway, a Life Story, 1969
- Callaghan, Morley. That Summer in Paris, 1963
- Hemingway, Leicester. My Brother, Ernest Hemingway, 1963
- Hemingway, Mary. How It Was, 1976
- Hotchner, A. E. Papa Hemingway, 1966
- Loeb, Harold. The Way it Was, 1959
- Ross Lillian. Portrait of Hemingway, 1950


- Baker, Carlos. Hemingway: the Writer as Artist, 1963
- Benson, Jackson J. Hemingway; the Writer's Art of Self-Defence, 1969
- Hovey, Richard B. Hemingway: the Inward Terrain, 1969
- Rovit, Earl. Ernest Hemingway, 1963
- Sanderson, Stewart. Hemingway, 1963
- Stephens, Robert O. Hemingway's Non-Fiction: the Public Voice, 1968
- Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader's Guide to Ernest Hemingway, 1972
- Watts, Emily. Ernest Hemingway and the Arts, 1971
- Young, Philip. Ernest Hemingway: A reconsideration, 1966


- Baker, Carlos (ed.). Hemingway and His Critics, 1961
- Books, Cleanth. 'Ernest Hemingway, Man on His Moral Uppers', in The Hidden God, 1963
- Kazin, Alfred. On Native Grounds, 1942
- Wilson, Edmund. 'Hemingway, Gauge of Morale', in The Wound and the Bow, 1941

Other Books

- Collins, Larry and Lapierre, Dominique. Is Paris Burning?, 1965
- Ellman, Richard. James Joyce, 1959
- Meyers, Jeffrey. Married to Genius, 1977
- R. Phelps and P. Deane. The Literary Life, 1969
- Stein, Gertrude. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, 1933
- Turnbull, Andrew. Scott Fitzgerald, 1962

3.0 The Sun Also Rises

In the following part (3.1 - 3.4) we depict how Hemingway turns his experiences as an expatriate in Paris into his novel The Sun Also Rises. We point out how he describes Paris, especially taking into account the bars and cafés as meeting points. Moreover, we characterize the people acting in his novel, known as the “Lost Generation”, juxtaposing their experiences directly to Hemingsway’s. We only refer to the First Book of The Sun Also Rises since here the place of action is Paris whereas the second and almost the whole third part are set in Pamplona, Spain.

3.1 Introduction

Ernest Hemingway first gained widespread critical acclaim through the publication of The Sun Also Rises in 1926. However, the novel did not gain immediate popularity among the reading public until later years. In short, it did not hit the "best seller" list as did A Farewell To Arms in 1929. Prior to 1926, Hemingway was already regarded as a promising young writer of short stories, but his first novel, The Torrents 0f Spring, published the same year as The Sun Also Rises and by the same publisher, Charles Scribner's Sons, was not a success. In The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway portrayed the problems and dilemmas of his age and his generation, the "Lost Generation" of the post- World War I period.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

3.2 Description of Paris

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.2

There is, strictly speaking, no formal "plot" or unfolding of an action in the First Book, which comprises nevertheless a fourth of the novel. Hemingway establishes a mood or an atmosphere; for example, he is very precise in his descriptions of Paris not, however, with lengthy passages but with the names of streets, places, and characteristic traits of Parisian life. In chapter V, for example, he describes Jake on his way to a café.

In the morning I walked down the Boulevard to the Rue Soufflot for coffee and brioche. It was a fine morning. The horse-chestnut trees in the Luxembourg gardens were in bloom. There was the pleasant early-morning feeling of a hot day. I read the papers with the coffee and then smoked a cigarette. The flower-woman were coming up from the market and arranging their daily stock. Students went by going up to the law school, or down to the Sorbonne. The Boulevard was busy with trams and people going to work.3

In short, Hemingway tries to convey a feeling for the beauty of the city and the warmth and humanity of the daily living. In order to make the reader react favorably, he must make him at "home"; he must make him understand why certain Americans rejected residence in the United States and chose Paris. For instance, Hemingway is most attentive to the privacy of the individual in the city. All the characters come and go as they please and lead whatever lives they prefer. The Paris described in The Sun Also Rises is a tourist’s Paris of the twenties. Cafés, restaurants, hotels, particularly of the Left Bank, are the setting. The mood and attitude of the main characters is that of people on vacation. They set out to do what people want to do on vacation: they want to have love affairs, they drink, go fishing, and experience new sensations.

The cafés and bars Hemingway describes have a special importance in the life of the expatriates. There is a comfortable atmosphere in the cafés at which Jake Barnes and his friends stop to eat and drink so often. Indeed, these elementary delights are constantly referred to by the novelist. The cafés and bars form meeting places where conversation, music, contact and drinking can take place. For Jake a café is “the best way to get rid of friends”4 since it is a very anonymous and neutral place. It is a place to move out of reality, to escape from the past. People do not want to talk or think of it. They live for the present, constantly searching for new and fresh sensations. Thus their conversation is reduced to enthusiastic small talk about their escapades. And this talk, as well as their actions, is largely a matter of pose and gesture.

3.3 The "Lost Generation"

When Hemingway used Gertrude Stein's remark that "You are all a lost Generation" in the frontispiece of The Sun Also Rises as one of the two sources for his inspiration, he was calling attention to his own situation. After his exploits in the first World War, Hemingway was unable to return to a prosaic and ordered life in the United States. He could not settle down and like Jake Barnes, also a newspaperman and a war casualty, seek in activity and diversity some cure for the loss of faith and idealism. Like several others, he became an expatriate, someone who preferred to live and work outside his native country. Many young writers gathered in Paris after World War I such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, John Dos Passos and others. The contributions of the Americans during this period of the twenties produced one of the flowerings of American literature.

Rather ironically, Hemingway is sketching a group of self-exiles who will probably not contribute much to the arts although some of them are trying to write. They are easily diverted by pleasures, their own uneasiness, and unfortunate backgrounds. In this sense, the phrase "Lost Generation" would apply not to the rejection of past ideals - political, social, and cultural - which marked Hemingway and his companions in Paris, but to the complete disillusionment with life. These members of the "Lost Generation" are totally rootless. They have fought and fought well for their countries during the recent war and now have been found useless in a peacetime world. They are naturally embittered at the treatment received for having risked their lives in combat, and they have decided individually to enjoy each day as it comes.

It is perhaps easy to criticize these individuals unless one has actually suffered and agonized as they have, and Hemingway sought in A Farewell To Arms to show the hardships and effects of war upon men.

3.4 The War

In The Sun Also Rises we have the background of the land and the weather, mountain, wind and river; we have the people of the story who represent many kinds of approaches to life; and we have the First World War - in that time, The War - which has established certain basic considerations of their lives.

The War is only mentioned directly a few times in the novel but it is ever-present in the power of its effect upon the individuals who play part the book. All the characters are suffering because of the war, directly or indirectly: Jake has been physically emasculated; Lady Brett Ashley has lost her "true love", and Cohn has not realized the importance of that conflict upon his own generation. Those who have been immediately involved go through the most anguish and rely upon each other for support. In this connection, Jake and Brett complement each other perfectly. Their agony is impenetrable to the comprehension of others. Cohn is still the idealistic and romantic young man that Jake Barnes might have been before he went to war. There is an implied dilemma in Cohn's maladjustment. Without the war experience, he has been unable to grow up or mature. with the war experience, he might have been as saddened and disillusioned as Jake Barnes. But above all, The War is implicit in the characters' approach to life, which reflects an outlook which, although it existed before The War, was made concrete in the aftermath. This outlook holds that there are no guidelines, no rules for life. There is not even such a thing as human nature.

4.0 Character Analyses

In The Sun Also Rises, the problem is that of the "Lost Generation" - the youth who fought in World War I and are unable to adjust to the demands of the following decade, the twenties, as a result of their traumatic experiences.

The main characters have only a meager past. They are escaping from it and usually do not even wish to talk about it or think of it. They live for the present, constantly searching for new and fresh sensations. They do not really think. These people feel quite alike, they form a small clique, stoically accepting the ills of their life.

4.1 Jake Barnes

Jake Barnes is the narrator of the story who gradually reveals himself in the first book. Until his meeting with Brett, Jake is more interested in explaining the situation of Robert Cohn. The reader is early made aware that something is wrong with Jake. The indications are fairly evident that he is incapable of having sexual relations.

Only after the initial meeting with Brett does the reader begin to form for himself a new view of Jake. This vision, nevertheless, alters totally the prevailing picture of a rather sorrowful and withdrawn journalist. Then, the first, clear outlines of the "Hemingway Hero" come into focus: Jake is capable of deep and sorrowful emotions. He is tender, compassionate and thoughtful. He must be a man of action. The irony is that Jake has strong sexual desires which can never be fulfilled. The love between Jake and Brett is omnipresent in this first book.

On the surface, Cohn would appear to be one of Jake's best friends. In the first chapters, Cohn dominates the narration. Indeed, more facts are learned about Cohn than about Jake even though the latter is the narrator and the hero. As the story unfolds, Cohn is unmasked by the author: instead of a pleasant companion, he is the antithesis of Jake. Jake becomes more cognizant of Cohn's boy-man personality in Chapter VI when Frances and her lover argue. Thus, in Book One, Jake has changed from a friend, or at least a tennis companion and listener to Cohn, to a suspicious and increasingly antagonistic acquaintance of his fellow American.

4.2 Brett

Although Brett appears rather late in the novel and is seldom alone with Jake, she begins to dominate the action. At least, the course of the story will revolve a great deal about her, it is clear at this point. Like Jake, Brett wears a mask. It is ironic that Jake is more normal, except sexually, than Brett, who is an extreme example of the "Lost Generation."

4.3 Robert Cohn

In a sense, Robert Cohn controls a great deal of the dialogue and the actions of Book One. Although he belongs to the expatriates, he is removed from them by temperament and by volition. Cohn’s difference from the others is one of the central points of the novel. This contrast is stated overtly when Lady Brett says that Cohn is “not one of us,” and when Jake thinks that Cohn has behaved badly by pursuing Lady Brett. If Jake Barnes is considered as a "Hemingway Hero," then within the same canon, Robert Cohn may be dubbed the "Hemingway Anti-Hero”. In short, Cohn is fundamentally bewildered by the world of his contemporaries and he does not understand the members of his own Generation. He does not belong to the group with which he associates, and Hemingway may be implying that Cohn does not belong to Europe.

Since Hemingway took the trouble to sketch so many details of Cohn's background, some of the dilemmas in the young man's situation can be seen in the light of the descriptions afforded him. While the fact that Cohn is Jewish cannot be attributed to any anti-Semitic attitude on Hemingway's side, nevertheless the author seeks to explain Cohn against this knowledge.

It also has been pointed out by critics that Hemingway may be suggesting some reasons for his own flight from the United States. He may have seen in the innocent and immature youth of America an inability to cope with reality. Their upbringing, education, and whole set of attitudes were romantic and bookish. They were unprepared to exist on equal terms with men in a world of experienced and hardened individuals. There is no doubt that Hemingway is particularly severe in his critique of Robert Cohn and perhaps significantly he terminates Cohn's appearance in Book One with the angry scene at the end of Chapter VI.

4.4 Minor Characters

Both Cohn and Frances are examples of an American marriage which fails because both are unrealistic, self-seeking, ambitious and are not actually in love from the beginning.

Harvey Stone, although he appears briefly, contributes two ideas of Hemingway to the themes of the novel. He is typical of the impoverished young American in Paris - witty, frank, and lazy - whom Hemingway must have met many times. However, Harvey Stone foreshadows the growing tensions with Cohn that Jake and his friends will have; Stone also analyzes briefly but accurately Cohn's juvenile qualities which the author judges as his serious defects.

Count Mippipopolous plays a role only in the first book; he is one of the several extraneous characters in this novel as well as others of Hemingway who come on stage briefly, contribute little to the action, and then vanish from the story. However, this technical aspect of Hemingway's art does not imply that the Count is totally without importance; on the contrary, he is also a member of the "Lost Generation", although older than the others, and exemplifies the manly virtues praised by the novelist. The Count is gentlemanly and enjoys life and values friendship; and he accepts life on its own terms.

The Braddocks are again Hemingway's representation of the wrong type of American in Paris. The few French characters introduced in the first book are perhaps stereotypes of the novelist's impressions of Parisians. It is interesting to note how Hemingway reproduces in dialogue the speech patterns of a native. He attempts to convey the syntax of the foreign language, with the use of the original French, into the context of English. The same procedure will be adhered to in speeches with other Frenchmen and with the Spaniards.


Summing up the previous interpretations we can state that - in the first book of The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway portrays the American expatriates in Paris taking his personal contacts during the twenties as a basis. He describes the city in a very explicit way mentioning street, place and café names in all details. The cafés and bars play a very important role in the novel, in particular as meeting places for the expatriates. It is a possibility for them to escape from reality, the reality which reminds them of their past. The war is one element of their past which they are all suffering from. Jake, for instance, has been physically emasculated, Lady Brett Ashley has lost her “true love” and Cohn has not realized the importance of the conflict on his own generation.

All in all, Hemingway describes a generation who fought in World War I and is unable to adjust to the demands of the following decade, the twenties, as a result of their traumatic experience.


- America Online Service (available for members only; keyword “PARIS”)
- Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: Critiques of Four Major Novels. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1962.
- Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. London: Arrow Books, 1994.
- Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1990.
- Klibbe, Lawrence. Ernest Hemingway ’ s The Sun Also Rises - A Critical Commentary. New York: Macmillan Company, 1965.
- McDowell, Nicholas. Hemingway. Life and Works. East Sussex: Wayland Ltd., 1988. § Pearsall, Robert B. (ed.). The Life and Writings of Ernest Hemingway. Amsterdam: Rodopi NV, 1973.
- Reynolds, Michael. The Young Hemingway. New York: Basil Blackwell Inc., 19987.
- Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader ’ s Guide to Ernest Hemingway. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972.
- White, William, ed. The Merrill Studies in The Sun Also Rises. Columbus: Merrill Publishing Company, 1969.


1 Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), U.S. author. Remark to Ernest Hemingway. Quoted in: Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. London: Arrow Books, 1994, ch. 3.

2 Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. London: Arrow Books, 1994, epigraph.

3 Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1990, ch. V.

4 Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1990, ch. II.

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The Expatriotes in Paris and Hemingway`s Reflections in "The Sun Also Rises"
Hauptseminar "American Writers in Paris: The 20th Century"
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Shannon Reed (Author), 1997, The Expatriotes in Paris and Hemingway`s Reflections in "The Sun Also Rises", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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