Illustration of a bull and a bullfighter

The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

Start Free Trial

How does Hemingway portray Jake's insecurity about his masculinity in The Sun Also Rises?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial