the sun also rises
Summary and Analysis of Epigraph and Chapters 1-4
Hemingway prefaces the novel with two quotes, one by Gertrude Stein, painter, poet, and social center of the American expatriates in 1920s Paris, and one by Ecclesiastes from the Bible. Stein's quote proclaims that Hemingway's is a \"lost generation.\" Her title stuck and has since defined the moral, emotional, and physical emptiness of the young post-WWI generation, devastated by war and aimlessly seeking comfort in the superficial, hedonistic atmosphere of the 1920s. The quote from Ecclesiastes compares the permanence of the earth to the transience of men; Hemingway altered the words \"'The sun also riseth'\" for his novel's title. In one sense, the words of Ecclesiastes are an optimistic antidote to Stein's pessimism; though Hemingway's generation may be \"lost,\" soon mankind will find himself again (\"'One generation passeth away, and another generation commeth'\"). On another level, the quote embraces the rejuvenation nature offers. This promise of natural rejuvenation will play an important role in the novel.
The narrator, Jake Barnes, describes Robert Cohn, who was the middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Cohn took up boxing, though he disliked it, to compensate for the inferiority complex he developed as a Jew at Princeton. Cohn's nose was flattened while boxing, and Jake says no one he knows from Cohn's class remembers Cohn. From one of New York's richest, most prominent Jewish families, Cohn emerged from Princeton with low self-esteem, had an unsuccessful marriage, and lost most of his inheritance.
Cohn moved to California and edited and backed an arts magazine until it folded. A woman, Frances, who had been using Cohn for his rising status, moved with him to Paris so he could write a novel. There, Cohn became friends with Braddocks, his \"literary\" friend, and Jake, his \"tennis\" friend. Frances, wanting to marry Cohn, kept him on a short leash.
Cohn's time in Princeton is almost an allegory of a young soldier's going off to war: his early dreams of glory are quickly shattered, his body is physically changed (the flattened nose), and he leaves embittered. He is quickly exploited by two women, the first instance of the theme of manipulative sexuality that Hemingway will explore in greater depth.
We are also introduced into a social world of little responsibility -- Jake's crowd travels and drinks freely, Jake refer...