The Sun Also Rises Questions and Answers
by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does Hemingway show that Jake is insecure about about his masculinity early in The Sun Also Rises?

Expert Answers info

Bridgett Sumner, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Hofstra University

calendarEducator since 2016

write1,749 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

In chapter three, the novel's narrator, Jake Barnes, picks up a girl on the street in Paris. They later get into a cab together and kiss, but when Georgette "touched [him] with one hand... [he] put her hand away." Shortly afterward, he tells her that he had been injured in the war. It is clear that he either cannot perform sexually or fears that he cannot.

Later that evening they are at a dancing club when a group of young men come in; one calls Georgette a harlot and announces his intention to dance with her. Instead of standing up to them, even though he is angry, Jake leaves the bar. When he later returns, he sees the men dancing with Georgette. In spite of his resentment he does not confront the men who have intruded on his date. Again, it raises the question of whether he feels capable of taking on a younger, more virile man in an altercation.

When Lady Brett and Jake discuss his war injury, he tells her "what happened to me is supposed to be funny. I never think about it." The reader knows this isn't true. His impotence has compromised his masculine identity. As a result of the injury, he is insecure around other men who are intact and around attractive women.

Later that same evening, Jake catches sight of himself in a mirror in his bedroom after he has undressed. Looking at himself, he says, "Of all the ways to be wounded. I suppose it was funny." The implication is that the injury has physically incapacitated him sexually and disfigured him.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial