The Sun Also Rises Notes and Study Questions

Links for The Sun Also Rises

The cancelled early chapters of The Sun Also Rises (Clifton Waller Barrett Collection)

Photos of Hemingway's Paris years ("Picturing Hemingway")

A review of "Whiteness and the Rejected Other in The Sun Also Rises" (Sandy Alexandre)

A review of "Brett Ashley as the New Woman in The Sun Also Rises" (Bianca Roters)

"'The Saloon Must Go and I Will Take It With Me': American Prohibition, Nationalism, and Expatriation in The Sun Also Rises" (Nakia Pope)

A close reading of a passage from The Sun Also Rises (Mason-West)

Hemingway, Duff Twysden, and Harold Loeb (Photos)

Hemingway's Articles at the Kansas City Star

front cover, sun also rises       back cover, sun also rises

Front and back covers to the first edition of The Sun Also Rises (1926)
silvia and ernest
Silvia Beach, Ernest Hemingway, and friends outside Shakespeare and Company, circa 1919.


(22) poules = "hens," slang for prostitutes [French].
(49) Mencken = H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), essayist and critic of the American middle class, whom he called the "booboisie." He also defined Puritanism as "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
(60) pelouse . . . pesage = "turf" (grass racing track) . . . "paddock" (where the horse owners hang out) [French].
(62) tromper = "deceive" [French].
(83) bateau mouche = "fly-boat," tourist boats that cruise up an down the Seine in Paris.
(120) like Henry's bicycle —a reference to a mysterious accident in Henry James' youth that affected his sexual performance.
(126) Bryan = William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), former Secretary of State, crusader for conservative causes like Prohibition. He was the prosecutor at the famous Scopes "monkey trial" which debated the teaching of evolution. Another page about the trial. And another: (possibly more than you want to know about the trial.)
(136) afición = "love of bullfights. It also means the entire bull ring public, but is usually used in this generic sense to denote the most intelligent part of the public" ("Explanatory Glossary," Death in the Afternoon).

1. One of Hemingway's original titles for the book was The Lost Generation. In what ways are the people in the novel lost? In what ways has expatriate life in Paris corrupted the characters?

2. What do we learn about Jake's insecurities and conceptions of masculinity from his attitudes towards Robert Cohn and the gays at the dance club (28-29)?

3. Why do you think Jake picks up Georgette? (See pp. 22-28.) What do you think it takes to be "one of us" (40, 67)?
Why do you think Harvey Stone and Frances give Cohn such a hard time? Why is Frances going to England (55)?

4. Compare / contrast Jake's relationship to Brett with Cohn's relationship to Frances. (For example, compare how each man is treated by the women. Why do you think the women act as they do in these relationships?)

5. Compare / contrast Jake and Cohn. How does the fact that Jake went to war and Cohn did not make them different from each other? In what ways are they like / unlike the rest of their friends? In what ways are they both outsiders?

6. In what ways is Count Mippipopolous like / unlike Jake and his friends? What do you think the count means by "values" (67)? (See p. 120.) Why do you think Brett says he's "dead"? What sort of "values" (78, 152, 156) does Jake have? Do you think he sticks to them?

7. Why do you think Hemingway includes the stories of the drummer (69-71) and the boxer (76-78)? What do you think goes in the ". . . . . ." on pp. 70-71?

8. Comment on some implications of the word "blind" (61, 105, 141) in the text. Do you think Jake prays for the right things in Pamplona (102-03)? What do you think is so "nice" and so "awful" (107) about Robert Cohn?

9. Why do you think Cohn is verbally abused so often in the novel? Is it because he is Jewish? (See pp. 101-02, 104, 145-48, 181.) Why do you think Mike attacks Cohn but not Jake, whom Brett actually loves? Why do you think Cohn accepts so much abuse? Why does he finally lash out (194-99)?

10. Bill tells Jake that "Sex explains it all" (121). To what extent is Bill's statement true of the novel The Sun Also Rises? In what ways are Brett, Jake and Cohn alike? (See pp. 101, 146-148, 163-64, 166, 179, 186-88, 194-99.)

11. Do you find Lady Brett Ashley to be a sympathetic character? Do you think she is a positive female role model? In what ways is her treatment of her male friends justified or unjustified? What do you Jake means when he says "the woman pays and pays and pays" (152)?

12. Read closely and analyze one of the longer passages in which Hemingway describes bulls or bullfighting. What sort of language does Hemingway use? Does the passage have symbolic possibilities? If the bullfighting passages do not advance the plot, how do they function to develop themes and motifs?

13. Analyze the novel in the context of World War I. How does the experience of war shape the characters and their behavior? Examine the differences between the veterans, like Jake and Bill, and the nonveterans, like Cohn and Romero.

14. Discuss the problem of communication in the novel. Why is it so difficult for the characters to speak frankly and honestly? In what circumstances is it possible for them to speak openly? Are there any characters who say exactly what is on their mind? If so, how are these characters similar to each other?

Back to:
ENG 383 Syllabus

Hemingway Links (ENG 383 Links page)

Mike Webster's home page

Webster's Courses