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What is the significance of the title of The Sun Also Rises?

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karsmith13 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 16, 2012 at 7:54 PM via web

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What is the significance of the title of The Sun Also Rises?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 17, 2012 at 7:18 AM (Answer #1)

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The title of this book, Hemmingway's first, actually comes from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, Chapter 1 verse 5, which reads as follows:

The sun also rises, and also goes down, then proceeds to the place where it rose.

Although this reference is not mentioned anywhere explicitly in the book itself, the title draws the reader's attention to the theme of cycles in the story. Symbolically, the title is also very optimistic, as it observes that no matter what happens today, and no matter what tragedy or mistakes are made by the characters, there is hope for a better tomorrow. This is very significant given the novel's focus on the so called "Lost Generation" who spent their days inanely wandering around Europe engaging in acts of hedonistic debauchery. Even though the novel itself seems to offer little hope for these characters, the title reminds the reader that there is hope even for the likes of Jake and Brett, in spite of how the novel ends:

“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
“Yes,”I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

These words, the last in the novel, suggest an extremely poignant sadness about Brett and Jake and how, even if they had been given a chance to start a relationship, it would have ended up shipwrecked on the rocks like Brett's many other relationships. Hemmingway presents his characters as living with moral voids that leave them unable to create meaningful relationships. Yet the title seems to offer some hope that even the "Lost Generation," in time, might be able to heal themselves gradually.

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