Fiesta : The Sun Also Rises

So I finally got around to reading some Hemmingway. Pernod. Bullfights. Tennis. Fishing. Hanging out with prostitutes. French brandy. Spanish wine.

Jake loves Brett, and she loves him (in a way), but any chance of a relationship is complicated by both of their personalities – and by the fact that Jake has an “injury” from the War. Awkward. So, during the Fiesta in Pamplona,  Jake sets her up with his Spanish bullfighter friend, Romero.

I was impressed by the way Jake presents himself. He’s a pretty good model of a certain type of narrator; he observes and reports on the action to us, without being too involved in what’s going on. The fact that he acts as impotent procurer for the woman he loves is a pretty key example of this; he’s a sort of passive mediator there. There’s also a scene where Jake watches while a friend of his is repeatedly insulted by his wife. Jake is watching his friend and wondering “why does he just sit and take it?”. It really brings out the embarassment of watching a couple airing their dirty laundry in front of you – I think you can really put yourself in Jake’s place a lot of the time.

On the other hand, Jake is competent, capable, well liked, and well-connected; in mundane things, he’s a vigourous man. This seems like it would contradict Jake as a passive observer (and I think there is a real contradiction there), but at the same time his character doesn’t seem divided. I think this adds something quite good to the novel.

Hopefully I’ll be reading A Farewell to Arms sometime soon – I don’t have much else to say on Hemmingway yet, but maybe reading something new will bring new insights.

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Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment