November 24, 2008
The Bull and the Steer
In the novel The Sun Also Rises, by Earnest Hemingway, Hemingway exemplifies different levels of masculinity. He uses the examples of bulls and steers in the novel repeatedly, which is a metaphor to actually perceive the characters and their actions. Ironically, the most masculine characters are really the most feminine and are the ones who never fight. Robert tries to fight with his fists and Mike fights with his words, but Jake and Brett never find ways or excuses to fight. Hemingway is trying to prove that fighting just shows insecurity and weakness, while masculinity comes from maturely handling situations to solve them. A big theme brought up multiple times throughout the novel shows the differences between bulls and steers. The bulls are masculine and gore the steers, a way of showing power and control. Having masculinity is linked with having strength, and Hemingway illustrates that Jake and Brett are the ones that are brave and strong because they learn to discuss situations and take charge, which causes them to stand as the bulls in the end, while Robert and Mike are the emotionally weak steers.
Jake’s incapability of having sexual relationships is brought up several times throughout the novel. During the war, Jake had an injury that prohibited him to be able to use his “friend”, so he tries to make up for his lack of sexual conquests by drinking and picking up women anyways. It becomes evident that Jake’s injury continues to be the only thing that separates Brett and him from having a relationship, “'Oh Jake,” Brett said, “We could have had such a damned good time together (Hemingway 251).” Brett is a woman, and although she has no manhood, she has more of a sex drive than a man. She could never be with Jake because although he fulfills her emotional needs, he cannot fulfill her sexual needs, which shows clear importance to her throughout the...