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The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

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What literary devices does the author use in the following passage from The Sun Also Rises?

"You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed with sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, you see? You hang around cafés."

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For a literary commentary focused on literary devices used by Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises, you might consider focusing on metaphor, connotation, synecdoche, hyperbole, and repetition. In a conversation between Bill Gorton and Jake Barnes, the author characterizes the bohemian stereotype of the American expatriate in Europe after World War I through these devices.

Although both Bill and Jake are writers and hard-drinking partiers, these buddies differ in significant ways. Bill did not go to battle during the war but possibly worked as a war correspondent. Jake, on the other hand, fought and suffered an injury that rendered him impotent. Bill is a successful and prosperous author who returned to the U.S. after the war. Jake works as a newspaper correspondent in Paris.

During a visit, Bill chides Jake:

You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed with sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, you see? You hang around cafés.

"Soil" serves as a metaphor for both the U.S. and reality. Bill comments on Jake's choice to stay in Europe after the war, suggesting that he has become disconnected from American reality and masculinity. Accusing Jake of becoming "precious," Bill implies that he has become soft, effeminate, and refined. The connotation of "precious" portrays Jake as taking on airs and no longer being down-to-earth.

Interesting, Jake actually has not "lost touch with the soil." He still enjoys outdoor, down-to-earth sports like swimming and fishing. In fact, he digs up worms before going fishing, while Bill uses artificial bait in order to fly-fish.

Hemingway uses "European standards" as synecdoche to represent European society. Bill generalizes about a world that contrasts the young, ambitious, early-twentieth-century U.S. Insecure against the older, more established Europeans, American like Bill resent and thus mock European manners, mores, culture, and society.

Throughout Bill's speech, Hemingway uses hyperbole to emphasize Jake's hedonistic existence as an expatriate. Yet are these exaggerations actually true? Jake is not literally "ruined" by European life. He does not really drink himself to death—after all, he is still alive and well to host Bill. Jake may ruminate on his impotence and lament his unrequited love for Lady Brett Ashley, but the description "obsessed with sex" is overkill … and applies more to Brett herself. Jake does not spend "all" his time "talking, not working." In fact, Jake is employed as a journalist … and thus, much of his work involves talking and observing. The act of "hang[ing] around" is part of the research process.

Finally, Hemingway stresses both the extent of Jake's supposed bohemian lifestyle and Bill's half-joking-yet-critical tone through repetition. Bill starts almost every sentence with "You." He begins his criticism with "You're an expatriate." Then, Bill restates it near the end with "You're an expatriate, you see?" to underline that he proved this point in his characterization of Jake.

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