, Research Paper
All the Way Up
In The Sun Also Rises, bullfighting is a recurrent theme throughout the story. Jake is a true aficionado and travels to Pamplona every year for the bullfights. Jake admires the bullfighters and is impressed by Romero. Jake s thorough descriptions of the bullfights show his passion for the sport. His descriptions are long and detailed, and don t leave out any details. Jake s knowledge of bullfighting seems to be endless; he is able to answer every question that Brett poses. Jake s demeanor also symbolizes the respect that he has for bullfighters and bullfighting. Maybe subconsciously, Jake feels a desire to be a bullfighter because they symbolize masculinity and possibly due to his injury, he may feel that he lacks masculinity. In turn, he may believe that is the reason why Brett does not desire him, not simply because of his injury, but because he does not have an aura of masculinity about him like Pedro exhibits.
Romero and the other bullfighters by the nature of their occupations confront an inherent danger. Bullfighters are seen as sexual figures, the true essence of masculinity. They perform a ritual dance with the bulls. The close proximity that the bullfighters work near the bulls gives the bullfighters a sense of invincibility, although a man was killed in the morning of the bullfight. Belmonte s reputation of working so close to the bulls gained him respect and admiration from the crowds. When he came out of retirement for a fight, he was unable to work as close to the bulls, and the crowd was not impressed. Romero possesses a natural ability to work close to the bulls and gains the admiration of the crowd.
Bullfighters face death every time they step into the ring. Jake, like the bullfighters, has also faced death. As a soldier in WWI, the Great War , Jake saw the face of death many times. Although these experiences are different, they are related. The bullfighter and the bull face one another at close range whereas much of the killing in World War I did not involve face to face contact between enemy soldiers. The lack of control over his fate that Jake felt as a soldier in the trenches is in sharp contrast with the control that the bullfighters exhibit over the bulls in the ring.
Much of the central conflict in The Sun Also Rises has to do with the uneasiness regarding gender and sexuality. There is a great deal of conflict in the relationships between men and women in this novel. Bullfighting seems to symbolize this. Relationships between Brett and her lovers are often like battles. Brett seems to be the bullfighter in some ways. Brett, similarly to Pedro s style, effortlessly manipulates men with her sexuality without losing her position of power.
Jake s comment to Robert Cohn about how only bullfighters live their lives all the way up seems to be an attempt by Jake to justify him and his friends seemingly meaningless lives. By saying that only bullfighters really live, he can more easily accept his life and its insignificance. Jake s lifestyle of drinking and general aimlessness was typical after the war as shown by his friends and others that went to Europe to live. Pedro is pure and whole. He is unspoiled by the war. His purity is in contrast with the shallowness of Jake s generation. Bullfighters live the life that Jake wishes he could lead.