The Sun Also Rises Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

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What is the difference between bulls and steers in Chapter 13 of The Sun Also Rises? In Jake’s group, who are bulls and who are steers? And what does this conversation represent in the values and characters of the people of Hemingway’s time?

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The difference between bulls and steers is that steers have been castrated, while the bulls have not. As such, the bulls are wild; they "tear in the streets" and "Sometimes they go right after [the steers] and kill them."

Although Jake and Bill are talking about literal bulls and steers in this scene, Hemingway wants us to be thinking about their conversation on a deeper level; that is, we should be considering which members of Jake's group are like bulls and which are like steers.

Certainly, Jake is a steer. Having been made impotent in the war, he is no longer violent or aggressive like a bull. Mike and Robert, on the other hand, almost certainly can be aligned with the bulls. On top of their penchant for fighting, both characters are constantly emphasizing their virility. Perhaps this is most obvious in their attempts to court Brett.

Speaking of Brett, she occupies a sort of middle ground between bull and steer. While she is not as aggressive as Mike or Robert, she does have a tendency...

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