The lost generation is a phrase that is used to refer to the characters that inhabit the novels and short stories of Hemingway, who occupy a kind of moral vacuum after their experiences in World War I. Their experiences have caused them to reject the moral codes and values that gave life structure before, and so now they are left to pursue their lives in an aimless fashion without any specific goals or objectives, and without any governing creeds or values to guide them.
In this excellent novel, we see a group of characters who are basically seeking their own pleasure where they can find it and who are unable to make their lives count for anything. A very interesting section of this novel is when they watch the bullfighting and reject the possibility of being a hero or of living life to the full: "Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bullfighters." Very tellingly, Cohn replies to this by saying: "I am not interested in bullfighters. That's an abnormal life." The characters that inhabit the pages of this novel are shown to settle for mediocrity in their lives as they wander aimlessly around a Europe that seems to provide them with an arena for gaining temporary satisfaction as they live their lives without the governance of a moral code of ethics.