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In Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises, the first reference to Bill Gorton suggests that he will be arriving in Paris on an ocean liner. Jake Barnes receives
a wire [that is, telegram] from Bill Gorton, saying that he was arriving on the France.
This statement suggests that Gorton is sailing on a large, ocean-going vessel of the sort that was common in the early twentieth century. It is possible that Gorton may be coming from England, although this is highly unlikely, since England was just across the narrow Channel from France. A large ship would not have been necessary. A reader might assume, then, that Gorton is coming from the United States.
This assumption is in fact borne out later in the book when Barnes reports:
Bill Gorton arrived, put up a couple of days at the flat [that is, apartment] and went off to Vienna [the capital of Austria]. He was very cheerful and said the States were wonderful. New York was wonderful.
Gorton, then, had been in New York City before arriving in Paris and then quickly heading off to Vienna. Gorton’s movements are relevant to a number of main concerns of the novel:
- Gorton is literally an American in Paris in a novel that is very much concerned with Americans living in, or at least visiting, Europe. This is very much a multicultural novel that features characters from a number of different national backgrounds.
- Gorton is wealthy enough to travel by steamship to Paris and then immediately leave for Vienna. Wealth is an important issue in this book, and Gorton seems financially well off.
- Gorton’s immediate departure for Vienna, almost immediately after arriving in Paris, exemplifies the kind of impetuous, adventurous characters who frequently populate this book.
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