The Sun Also Rises

Bullfighting Symbol Analysis

Bullfighting Symbol Icon
Hemingway uses bullfighting as an ongoing metaphor for war and the nature of masculinity. The bullfight represents, in part, the ideals of war that were destroyed by the mechanized war of World War I. The bullfight is a battle of skill, of two beings coming face to face in search of victory and glory. As such, the bullfights fascinate the characters: the fight has rules, it has honor, it has skill all the things that they no longer believe in out in the "real world."

The bullfight also represents the dangers of sex and love. The bullfights are described as seductions, in sexualized language (it is a fight after all, in which a man tries to stick a long hard object into the bull), and yet it always ends in destruction, of either the bullfighter or the bull. Similarly, Belmonte is cast aside in the affections of the fans as soon as someone better comes along, in this case Romero. The fickleness of the crowds mirrors Brett's behavior, as she jumps from lover to lover.

Bullfighting Quotes in The Sun Also Rises

The The Sun Also Rises quotes below all refer to the symbol of Bullfighting. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Sun Also Rises published in 1954.
Chapter 2 Quotes
"I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it."
"Nobody ever lives life all the way up except bull-fighters"
Cohn and Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bullfighting
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes
Those who were aficionados could always get rooms even when the hotel was full. Montoya introduced me to some of them. They were always very polite at first, and it amused them very much that I should be American. Somehow it was taken for granted that an American could not have aficion. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Montoya
Related Symbols: Bullfighting
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

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Bullfighting Symbol Timeline in The Sun Also Rises

The timeline below shows where the symbol Bullfighting appears in The Sun Also Rises. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Sport Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...his life and that he needs to go to South America. Jake responds that only bullfighters live their lives to the fullest. (full context)
Chapter 4
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Sport Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Jake goes to bed and reads through two bullfighting newspapers. He then turns out the lamp, but is unable to sleep and he thinks... (full context)
Chapter 16
Sport Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
...leaves Brett and Romero at the table, and as he does so he notices that bullfighters and critics with whom Romero was speaking earlier look at him disapprovingly. When Jake returns... (full context)