The romantic partners in The Sun Also Rises change suddenly and frequently. The relationships are made and broken along the journey from country to country and, though marriage is sometimes mentioned, it is never actually attempted other than Cohn's disastrous and unhappy first marriage. The characters do not establish domestic lives for themselves. The nightly drinking parties and long leisurely meals in public places serve as the primary domestic activity of the novel. The occupations and movements of the characters are aimless and restless. So, too, is love. It is avoided and ignored. But while the insecurities of the male characters cause them to avoid love and sex, Brett excels as a sexual being. She is healthy, charismatic, and lives like the ideal bachelor. She has sex without being married and without feeling ashamed. The typical attitudes of men and women have been troubled and upturned by the changes of wartime. The men have been shackled. Brett has been liberated.
At the same time, in her last lines of the novel, even Brett is revealed to yearn for love, with Jake. At numerous points in the novel it seems that Jake and Brett share a real love, and could be a true couple, if only Jake did not have the injury that made him impotent. And yet Jake, in his response, "Isn't it pretty to think so," dashes even that idea. In his response he is saying that the only reason Brett, Jake himself, or anyone else could imagine that their love might be perfect, might be an answer to all the meaninglessness of postwar life, is because his injury makes it impossible. If Jake was not injured and a relationship between he and Brett were possible, he is saying, it wouldn't end any better than any of her other relationships. And so The Sun Also Rises ends with the suggestions that just like all the other ideals obliterated by World War I, love, too, is no answer to the emptiness of the lost generation and perhaps, more broadly, to the emptiness of life.
Sex and Love ThemeTracker
Sex and Love Quotes in The Sun Also Rises
"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"