The characters whose story Hemingway tells in The Sun Also Rises are referred to as “the lost generation. ” These characters, all greatly affected by the tragedies of war, were disillusioned with their own country and attempted to find solace in Paris. In the hustle bustle and excitement of the city, they still seem to long for some sort of escape and this is where Hemingway brings in pastoral language and other forms of escapism. The novel begins with a long epigraph from Ecclesiastes (read).
This epigraph is intended to show the reader that nature is a constant, while people are not. This basically means that our lives and hardships are seemingly insignificant and that no matter how bad an experience a person has one day, another day will always come. The sun will always rise and set, the wind will always blow, and the rivers will always flow into the ocean. This idea is essential in order to understand the importance of pastoral language. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word pastoral as poetry, music, pictures, etc: portraying rural life or characters, esp. n an idealized or romantic manner. (Read definition&next) While Paris was meant to be an escape from the wartime and the reminders of their lives in America before the war, it is still difficult for them to cope because the city is still very similar to their old lives and is full of corruption. (read) Hemingway creates pastoral interludes in which the men escape from the social, sexual, and monetary competition of the city to a more idyllic setting.
For example, Bill and Jake go on a trip to the countryside and are able to enjoy the freedom from the busy schedules of city life as well as a new openness with one another when Bill expresses his deep feelings of friendship for Jake that would’ve been considered inappropriate to express by social standards. Jake desperately wants to escape from his problems, however he carries a constant reminder of what he went through because of his injury.
Lady Ashley and his desire for what can never happen between them is another constant reminder of what he has gone through which never allows him to escape his war. So, while the pastoral setting was a good break for him, it doesn’t allow him to completely regain his masculinity. Instead, he uses a forced masculine attitude as a form of escapism. In comparison to the count, Jake is a small and seemingly weak man. The count dates Brett, buys her things such as dinner flowers and champagne. Brett treats Jake lovingly but it is almost in a tantalizing way because she knows nothing will happen etween them. In order to keep up his many image, Jake begins to spend money frivolously as the count does, even though he is by no means wealthy. (Read) Jake isn’t the only one that the pastoral setting doesn’t help when it comes to escaping the memories of the war. After the war, women had a new place in the world because during the war they had to work while the men were away. Brett is unable to use the country as a place of solace because women were still supposed to be traditional and that type of confinement wouldn’t allow her to forget the things she saw as a nurse.
Instead, she turns to a somewhat wild lifestyle consisting of alcohol and men as her own form of escapism. The characters seem to be constantly looking for a way to escape their problems rather than fixing them or simply accepting that there are some things that can’t be changed. They cling to ideas of what could have been, even up to the very last lines of the book. Through their constant efforts to escape, they never seem to grasp Hemingway’s idea that the world is bigger than one person’s suffering.