The Sun Also Rises


Ernest Hemingway

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The Lost Generation Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Sport Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Sun Also Rises, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Lost Generation Theme Icon

Though seldom mentioned, World War I hangs like a shadow over the characters in The Sun Also Rises. The war devastated Europe, wiping away empires and long-standing governments. Similarly, its brutal trench warfare and machine-driven killing made clear to all of its participants that the long-standing ideals of honor, courage, and stoicism were hollow and meaningless, as were the national identities that drove the countries of Europe to war in the first place. In short, the war changed all those who experienced it, and those who came of age during the war became known as "the lost generation." Through Jake and his friends and acquaintances, The Sun Also Rises depicts members of this lost generation.

Jake and his friends believe in very little. While in some ways this is liberating, it is also depicted as a loss. In losing their belief in the ideals, structures, and nationalism that drove self-identity in the time before the WWI, they seem to have lost some core of themselves. The characters are always restless, always wandering, looking for a constant change of scenery, as if looking for an escape. They would prefer to live in America than Europe, but for some reason they don't leave. The characters have made themselves expatriates, disconnected from their home, sampling the cultures of Europe without ever joining them. There is a sense that Jake and his generation don't belong anywhere. Though many of Jake's friends have occupations, in writing and editing, these jobs don't seem to have regular hours and none of them are accountable to any boss or location. The characters spend their time socializing, drinking, dancing, and playing games. Though these activities are usually seen as youthful pursuits, in such endless repetition they become empty and wearying, and part of a vicious cycle in which the characters are always thinking of the next escape. Of all the characters, only Cohn seems to not fit this description of a lost generation. He has an identity forced on him: he's Jewish. And he has ideals—romantic, perhaps silly ideals—but still ideals. It's not a coincidence that he is the only male character in the novel not to have experienced the war first hand. Yet in the course of the novel even Cohn betrays his ideals, suggesting that while the loss of belief in the old systems is a terrible personal loss, it also just may be a more accurate view of the world.

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The Lost Generation ThemeTracker

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

Below you will find the important quotes in The Sun Also Rises related to the theme of The Lost Generation.
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:
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:
"You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. " – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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:
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:
Chapter 6 Quotes
"Just try and be calm. I know it's hard. But remember, it's for literature. We all ought to make sacrifices for literature. Look at me. I'm going to England without a protest. All for literature." – Frances
Related Characters: Frances Clyne (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes
"This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste." – Count Mippipopolous
Related Characters: Count Mippipopolous (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
It was like certain dinners I remember from the war. There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn, Lady Brett Ashley, Bill Gorton, Mike Campbell
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 15 Quotes
At noon on Sunday, July 6th, the fiesta exploded. There was no other way to describe it. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:
The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes
"She hasn't had an absolutely happy life, Brett. Damned shame, too. She enjoys things so." – Mike
Related Characters: Mike Campbell (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes
"Well, it was a swell fiesta."
"Yes," I said; "something doing all the time."
"You wouldn't believe it. It's like a wonderful nightmare."
"Sure," I said. "I'd believe anything. Including nightmares."
Bill and Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Bill Gorton (speaker)
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
"Oh, Jake,' Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley (speaker)
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis: