Illustration of a bull and a bullfighter

The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

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How is bull-fighting represented and why is it a major theme in The Sun Also Rises?

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Bull-fighting could be considered the ultra-macho sport (Hemingway certainly seems to think so, along with boxing), and the characters of The Sun Also Rises all spend most of their time on manly pursuits. The men constantly pursue their various sexual interests, and they find that bull-fighting is also a great lure of women as well. The fights in Pamploma seem to bring out the worst traits in them all--men and women--and the animals (and the matadors) themselves become a symbol of power and virility. Jake may not be able to satisfy women, particularly Lady Ashley, but the fights make him feel more like a man--and arouse Brett as well.

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