The Sun Also Rises

Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Analysis

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There is only one main female character in The Sun Also Rises, and the men circle around Brett like bees to honey, creating an atmosphere of rivalry between the male characters. The competition between the men is won and lost in different, often unpredictable, ways. Sometimes it is physical vigor that wins out, in the case of Romero. But sometimes physical strength is a liability. Robert Cohn strikes out at Mike, Bill and Romero, overpowering them physically, but later is found alone and crying. For men in The Sun Also Rises, to win seems impossible.

In this way, The Sun Also Rises shows how men have been changed by the experience of war, and World War I in particular. Honor, courage, stoicism, glory—none of these traditional masculine traits meant a thing huddled in the trenches as mortars fall from the sky. There was no glorious clash of skill between two warriors. There were just men getting cut down by machine gun fire in a futile effort to move their trench forward another inch. All of the men have been damaged by the war, their sense of selves demolished because none of what they were taught about themselves as men seems to apply any more, and they are all made so insecure by this loss that they can't even discuss it. The cruelty of the men toward Cohn emerges not just because Cohn is so obviously acting in non-manly ways in his desperate pursuit of Brett, but rather because the men know that they themselves, secretly, are just as unmanned. Jake himself is a symbol of all of these dynamics of masculinity and insecurity. He has literally, physically been emasculated by a genital injury in the war, but that injury is never directly mentioned by anyone. Brett's behavior further brings into play the idea or value of manliness. Just as the men display traditionally feminine behavior, Brett, with her short haircut, bantering conversation, and constant desire for sex, is the most traditionally "masculine" character in the novel, and the fact that she comes off as something of a heartless monster raises questions about whether those traditional manly virtues were even virtues at all. And yet, without them, what are the men?

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Masculinity and Insecurity ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Masculinity and Insecurity appears in each chapter of The Sun Also Rises. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Masculinity and Insecurity Quotes in The Sun Also Rises

Below you will find the important quotes in The Sun Also Rises related to the theme of Masculinity and Insecurity.
Chapter 1 Quotes
I mistrust all frank and simple people, especially when their stories hold together, and I always had a suspicion that perhaps Robert Cohn had never been middleweight boxing champion. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

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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 3 Quotes
"Who are your friends?" Georgette asked.
"Writers and artists."
"There are lots of those on this side of the river."
"Too many."
Georgette and Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Georgette (speaker)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes
I passed Ney's statue standing among the new-leaved chetnut trees in the arc-light. […] He looked very fine, Marshal Ney in his top-boots, gesturing with his sword among the green new horse-chetnut leaves. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

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It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night is another thing. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes
I have never seen a man in civil life as nervous as Robert Cohn – nor as eager. I was enjoying it. It was lousy to enjoy it, but I felt lousy. Cohn had a wonderful quality of bringing out the worst in anybody. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes
"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."– Bill
Related Characters: Bill Gorton (speaker), Jake Barnes
Page Number: 120
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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Chapter 14 Quotes
That was morality; things that made you disgusted afterward. No, that must be immorality. That was a large statement. What a lot of bilge I could think up at night. What rot, I could hear Brett say it. What rot! – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes
I hated to leave France. Life was so simple in France. I felt I was a fool to be going back to Spain. In Spain you could not tell about anything. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

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