Illustration of a bull and a bullfighter

The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

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How does the quote from Chapter 2 of The Sun Also Rises foreshadow Jake's aficion values and attitude towards life?

"Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bullfighters."

Quick answer:

"The bullfighter" is something that is infused in the conception of the "lost generation." While they live out of suitcases, there are some elements of their way of life that are looked at with admiration. This is because they see in the bullfighter a totality that they might have been seeking. By understanding this, we can better understand how Jake's character might be driven by such an idea. Additionally, it also addresses why Jake feels life must be lived to the fullest.

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The previous post was really quite detailed and thorough. You have one of the best answers to the question.  I only seek to discuss the last question offered.  The "lost generation" is an element that fits into the conception of the bullfighter in that there might have been a belief...

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that by experiencing life in different settings and conditions, one might be able to "live their life all the way up."  The "lost generation" living out of suitcases, hotel rooms, and a rootless existence might have been have been so impacted by the failures shown in World War I, that their aspect of being "lost" helped to drive them to seek something that was almost unattainable.  Perhaps, their roaming and sense of disenchantment which prevented them from full emotional commitment to a place or a life of ties that bind was designed out of hope that by continuing to experience life in different contexts, some stability could be found.  The premise of life being something incomplete was something that was understood by the Lost Generation, but it might have also been something that they wished to overcome.  This is why the quote does feature an example of life (the bullfighter) that does have totality, something that might have been so desperately sought by the thinkers of the Lost Generation.  Concordantly, we have individuals who understand the fragmented nature of consciousness, but secretly harbor desires to overcome it.

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The quotation about bullfighters highlights the extreme danger and risk that bullfighters undertake in performing their art. Jake says these words in response to Robert's lament that his life "is going so fast and (he's) not really living it." A bullfighter lives his life constantly on the edge, risking his well-being and indeed his very life everytime he goes up against a bull, achieving the ultimate thrill. Jake is saying that no one can match a bullfighter in sustaining this constant state of intensity, which he equates with living one's life "all the way up."

That Jake should bring up this analogy about bullfighting in his conversation with Robert out of the clear blue indicates that he has a deep interest in bullfighting, and has thought deeply about what it entails. Jake's reference to bullfighting and its significance foreshadows that bullfighting will play an important role in the life of the character and the development of the narrative.

It is actually Robert at this point who feels that life must be lived to the fullest; Jake, on his part, is "through worrying" about such things. Robert, on the other hand, has a romantic nature and is inspired by what he reads in books to get the most out of life. He says, "Don't you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you're not taking advantage of it?" Robert is thirty-five, and feels he has already lived half his life and has nothing to show for it. He wants to experience as much as he can in life before he dies.

The "Lost Generation" sees little hope for the future. Caught in a wasteland in the aftermath of war, they are pessimistic and find life to be empty and directionless. With nothing to look forward to, they resort to a hedonistic way of living, seeking to satisfy their immediate needs and longings, because nothing else has value, and they can see no other purpose to their lives.

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