Summarize Mike's story about the medals in Chapter 13 of The Sun Also Rises.
What does the incident demonstrate about Mike's character, and how is this incident representative of the “Lost Generation”?
Mike has fought in the war, but he has no medals of his own, having never sent in for the ones to which he may have been entitled. One night he is invited to a "whopping big dinner"which the Prince of Wales will attend, and to which soldiers will wear their medals. Having none, Mike goes to his tailor and asks him to set him up with some medals, and the tailor obliges, giving him some miniature medals in a box. Mike puts the box in his pocket and forgets about them, which is just as well, because that night, Henry Wilson is shot, the dignitaries do not show up, and those who had worn their medals take them off. Later, Mike finds the medals he had forgotten in his pocket, and gives them away to girls, who think he is a pretty big deal. The medals had actually belonged to"some chap (who) had left them (with the tailor) to be cleaned," and the tailor asks for them back, but Mike no longer has them.
Mike is not an upright character. He is apathetic about things that have meaning in the greater society such as military honors, and he is not above passing others' honors, or medals, off as his own. His nonchalant attitude towards the medals he borrows from the tailor - he asks for them, then forgets them in his pocket, then when he finds them, he gives them away to random girls as souvenirs - is further evidence of the apathy that characterizes his life. This apathy and emptiness is symptomatic of the moral bankruptcy that is at the heart of the "Lost Generation's" malaise. Nothing has meaning, not awards, nor respect for the property or things that are important to others. Mike does what is expedient at the moment, and does not care about their deeper ramifications (Chapter 13).