In the The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway portrays how a group of expatriates especially Jake, Robert, and Mike are severely damaged by war after World War I, and are relentlessly fighting for one woman’s affection. They were damaged physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These men are, for the most part and unlike Romero, incredibly dysfunctional, unsure of where they are going and whattheir lives will bring. The three primary men demonstrating such dysfunctional qualities are Jake, Robert, and Mike. A commonality among these men is allare involved, at one point or another, with Brett, a woman who shares their charact-eristics and is ultimately as dysfunctional as the men. These men are all drawn to her and need Brett, but they find no hope or comfort in their relationship with herbecause she is just as lost as they are. Brett continues to be a destructive force, and it most definitely should be noted that other relationships in which she engaged didnot prove destructive to the men.
Two so called pawns Bill and the Count were not damaged primarily because they possessed confidence in themselves andin their lives. They were not obsessed with Brett and did not think that shecould be the answer to their problems. Brett had little affect upon thesemen who were in control of their lives and emotionally healthy. However, she did have control over Jake, Robert, and Mike because they were lost, part of that lostgeneration that Hemingway often wrote about. And Brett, being as lost as themen, truly fell into the destructive relationships, thrived on them, and evenunconsciously looked for them.
Brett is clearly one of those type of women who seems to seek out men who need her. She thrives on that need and then quickly dismisses them for one reason oranother. She feels wanted and needed by these men, but never finds happinesswith them because of the fact that they need her. However, this is what fuelsher, making her feel loved and useful.
She is perhaps incapable of finding areal relationship. And, even when we imagine that she could have had such arelationship with Jake, we realize that she only appeared truly smitten with himbecause he could not meet her needs sexually. It is the old story of believingshe may have wanted something because she couldn’t have it. Jake is clearly disabled and unable to "perform" sexually with Brett.
However, the need for love has not diminished by any means, in fact it has increased.Through Jake's experiences in the war he is, as we have noted, clearly lookingfor some value, some meaning, in his life. Despite his inability to perform, heseeks meaning and value through some sort of sexual relationship with Brett.Even though sex is not present in their relationship, the dream of such areality, the sexual hope and need, is still powerfully present. This clearlypresents us with a picture of a man who feels he is unworthy, and who societyfeels is unworthy, because he is not sexually active, something that trulydefines a man. Sex is the foundation of this relationship because it is nonexistent and thus becomes the desired object that helps to define the lack of a relationship. Each one relies on sex to define themselves and his or her relationship.
And, Brett as.