Notes on The Sun Also Rises Themes

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The Sun Also Rises Topic Tracking: Gender

Chapter 1

Gender 1: So needy and afraid of losing Frances, Cohn will do whatever she asks of him. She is in control of their relationship. Cohn is happy not to be left behind again.

Gender 2: Cohn does not want to risk getting Frances mad, so he and Jake decide to go somewhere else for a trip. Cohn's fear of losing Frances allows her to control his life. Amused with his weakling friend, Jake thinks to himself: "I rather liked him and evidently she led him quite a life." Chapter 1, pg. 7

Chapter 2

Gender 3: Jake feels that only bull-fighters live fully. They do not sit around getting drunk in cafés, mooning over women. They go out in the ring and risk their lives, creating danger and art.

Chapter 6

Gender 4: Cohn allows himself to be abused terribly by Frances. He listens in near silence the entire time she berates him, in front of his friend.

Chapter 7

Gender 5: Brett has a kind of power over men. They will usually do whatever she asks them to, and the count is no exception. She just has to ask him to leave for a little while, and he comes back with champagne.

Chapter 9

Gender 6: Bill and Jake meet a very traditional family on the train to Bayonne. The couple is so orientated toward their child that the man calls his wife "mother." She voted against Prohibition because her husband asked her to, but also for her own reasons. She wants to please him, but she has not lost her own mind. She is very different from any of the other women we meet.

Chapter 12

Gender 7: The person Bill describes, the expatriate, sounds like an emasculated male. The expatriate is weak, drunk, unmotivated--in contrast to the American male. When Cohn went to America with his novel, he returned a new man, much more confident and forceful. We know that Bill is a writer, but we do not know much about his life in America. When he is in Europe, though, much of his behavior matches the expatriate he has just described.

These two things Bill mentions, being impotent and being supported by women, make Jake a prime example of the weakened and dysfunctional expatriate.

Chapter 13

Gender 8: A bull is an adult male uncastrated ox, and a steer is a young castrated ox. The steers are more docile than the bulls, and it is their job to calm them down in the ring. Defenseless, they are often killed by the bulls. The steers are worth less; their deaths are not as glamorous as that of the bulls.

Gender 9: Brett's boyish appearance makes her stand out from the native women. She also keeps unusual company for a woman--all her companions are men.

Brett's reactions are also surprising. Mike and Jake worry that Brett will be disturbed if it gets bloody when the bulls are unloaded. But it is Cohn who almost gets sick.

Chapter 14

Gender 10: Jake thinks you have to be in love with a woman to be her friend. He thinks that women have very high expectations. Women have to "pay" too, for friendship, but in his opinion they get away with much more than a man.

Chapter 15

Gender 11: The group wants to go inside the cathedral, but they cannot because of Brett. Rebelling against female conventions, she is not wearing a hat; therefore she is not allowed inside.

The dancers do not want Brett to participate. She is beautiful and strange-looking, and they want to dance around her, as though she is a goddess.

Gender 12: It is not Brett who is disturbed and sickened by the horses' deaths; rather it is Cohn. Brett can't look away, and Cohn nearly gets sick. He is surprised at the reaction of Brett, a woman, and accuses her of enjoying suffering.

Chapter 16

Gender 13: Brett hates Cohn's visible suffering, while she admires Jake's invisible pain. In her opinion, a man should not be so open with his anguish.

Chapter 17

Gender 14: Jake is not embarrassed to admit in detail that he was knocked unconscious in a fight, and didn't land a single punch.

Gender 15: After the fight with Romero, Cohn tries to convince Brett to leave with him. He thought if he took her away from everyone, she would become a better (more traditional) woman.

Chapter 18

Gender 16: Surprised at herself, Brett notices that she doesn't mind the blood on the bull-fighting capes.

Chapter 19

Gender 17: Brett tells Jake that Romero wanted her to grow her hair out, so she'd look more like a woman. He also wanted to marry her, so she could never leave him. Brett is an individual, living outside of the norm, and she is frightened by Romero's desire to change her and make her conform to her sex.

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