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Lost Generation

Updated May 13, 2019

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Lost Generation essay

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Lost Generation Lost Generation Ernest Hemingway is a renowned American author of the Twentieth century who centers his novels around personal experiences and affections. He is one of the authors named “The Lost Generation.” He could not cope with post-war America, and therefore he introduced a new type of character in writing called the “code hero”. Hemingway is known to focus his novels around code heroes who struggle with the mixture of their tragic faults and the surrounding environment. Traits of a typical Hemingway Code Hero are a love of good times, stimulating surroundings, and strict moral rules, including honesty. The Code Hero always exhibits some form of a physical wound that serves as his tragic flaw and the weakness of his character.

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises Jake Barnes is the character who maintains the typical Code Hero qualities; while Robert Cohn provides the antithesis of a Code Hero. Jake Barnes, the narrator and main character of The Sun Also Rises, is left impotent by an ambiguous accident during World War I. Jake’s wound is the first of many code hero traits that he features. This physical wound, however, transcends into an emotional one by preventing Jake from ever consummating his love with Lady Brett Ashley. Emotional suffering can take its toll on the Code Hero as it did with Jake Barnes. Despite the deep love between Jake and Lady Brett, Jake is forced to keep the relationship strictly platonic and stand watch as different men float in and out of Lady Ashley’s life and bed.

No one other than Jake and Brett themselves ever learn the complexity of their relationship because Jake’s hopeless love for Brett and the agony it entails are restricted to scenes known to themselves alone. Therefore, Jake suffers in silence because he has learned to trust and rely only upon himself, which is conducive to the Hemingway Code as well. Jake is an American who travels to Europe to satiate his appetite for exotic landscapes and to escape his pain. Jake tries to live his life to the fullest with drinking, partying, and sporting with friends. With these pastimes, Jake hopes to hide from his fault and get on with the life he has been made to suffer. Watching and participating in sports help accentuate the Code Hero’s masculinity and provide the sense of pride Jake has lost.

This gain of pride is essential in the Hemingway Code. Jake attends fishing trips with friends, he visits Pamplona, Spain to witness the running of the bulls, and he acts as a mediator between arguing friends. These characteristics reveal his strong character built of courage and grace. Jake, as with any Code Hero, is a man of action who spends more time achieving goals than talking about them. Jake’s friend, Robert Cohn violates everything a Hemingway Code Hero represents.

He is rich, gifted, and skillful and is ready to discuss his emotions in detail. Robert refuses to admit defeat when Brett rejects him repeatedly. Unlike Jake, when Cohn is hurt, he insists on complaining to everyone instead of suffering in silence. Cohn does nothing to assert his masculinity, either. He allows people, especially women to ridicule him and knock down his self esteem.

Cohn obviously can not stand up for himself and does not take action when he should. Consequently, Robert has no self control. When a matador sleeps with Brett, whom Cohn is in love with, he takes out his jealousy by beating him repeatedly. Although a man of action, Jake, the quintessential Hemingway Hero, knows when to control himself, Robert Cohn does not.

On the whole, Jake Barnes strictly adheres to the qualities of the typical Hemingway Code Hero. He relies solely on himself, utilizes his assets, enjoys bullfights and other honorable activities. He is an individual of action and speaks not of what he believes; rather he just does what he believes to be right subtlety without any fanfare. Jake has lived with disappointment and frustration all his life, yet he overcomes it and uses the lesson to his advantage. On the other hand, Robert Cohn, who has had the easy life is the perpetual loser. He allows people to walk all over him and continually feels sorry for himself.

Robert Cohn is the false knight, who, in theory should be the victorious protagonist but will always turn out to be a shallow person who lives on the fringes of life. In the end, the person who does not possess the Code Hero qualities can never discover himself, and therefore never truly be happy.

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Lost Generation. (2019, May 13). Retrieved from