What is the relationship between Chapter 12 in The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway and Eliot's poem The Waste Land?the Fisher King and the river

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Chapter 12 in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and Eliot's The Waste Land both address themes of disillusionment with modern society, and the possiblity of redemption.

In Chapter 12 of The Sun Also Rises, the central character, Jake, talks with his friend Bill about his dissatisfaction with the values and lifestyle of "the lost generation", exemplified by expatriates in Paris in the years following World War I. Preoccupied with drinking and the satisfaction of animal cravings, the expats lead lives that are aimless, filled with excesses, and ultimately unfulfilling. In contrast, the simplicity and peace the two men experience on a fishing trip on the river offers a much more viable alternative. The "oneness with things natural and moral and ethical" discovered by the friends allows them to return to a simpler time, close to the natural world, when core values are central and openness between friends opens the possibility of redemption and fulfillment through genuine and lasting relationships.

In The Waste Land, Eliot comments on the same period in history, the post-World War I years in Europe. He uses the allusion of the mythical Fisher King, whose woundedness resulted in the creation of a land of ruin and waste. Eliot focuses on a human society which has undergone a "moral death", in which sexual relations in particular are joyless and superficial. In an especially vivid image, Eliot describes a poor couple who engage in sex simply to satisfy the man's lust; the procreative power of the act has been lost, as the woman has begun having abortions because of the physical toll her many pregnancies have had on her body. Sex, like the social climate of the times in general, is loveless and has become associated with death, not life. The possibility of redemption is presented in the person of Christ by the poet. As Christ died, so Christians feel morally dead, lost without their Savior; they have only to recognize the redemptive power of his resurrection for their lives to have meaning once again, but sadly, they are so blinded by their worldly disillusionment that they fail to see the possibility offered to them.

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