Describe how the setting complements the primary themes of the novel.

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In The Sun Also Rises, we can look to Paris and Spain as the two most important settings in the novel.


In Paris, the depiction of the life there presents debauchery, vagueness of purpose, and a cacophony of social disorder and messy relationships. No one is perfectly clear on who stands where, though everyone knows everyone else. It is a quite messy little community of ex-patriots in Paris.


Spain stands in contrast to this. The depiction of life in Spain is directly opposite. It is idyllic (fishing and sunshine) and it is orderly (the age-old traditions of bull fighting). There is great dignity to the people in Spain, who constitute a large portion of the setting in Spain. This dignity is lacking in Paris.


Regarding the themes of the novel, we can say that dignity and social striving are both themes in The Sun Also Rises and that the central conflict of the story is expressed in the contrast between Spain and Paris. Jake wishes to attain dignity, despite his physical injury, and to (possibly) lift himself out of the disorder of debauchery around him by clinging to something of value (Brett).


Tradition is not enough, however, and even tradition can be broken, as it is in Brett’s relationship with the young bull fighter. Though Jake would like to take a side, each symbolically represented by Paris and Spain he finds himself jailed in between.



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