Jake Barnes character

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Novel: The Sun Also Rises

Jake Barnes is the hero of Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” (1926). His image represents a certain stage in the development of the hero of the lyric-biographical prose of Hemingway. He is endowed with autobiographical features and is considered the spokesman for the mood of the Western intelligentsia, trying to comprehend what is happening in the world and find its place in it.

In this sense, Jake Barnes is the development of the image of Nick Adams (“In Our Time,” 1925) and correlates with the images of Frederick Henry (“Farewell to Arms!”, 1929) and Robert Jordan (“For Whom the Bell Tolls,” 1940). By origin and thought, all four heroes are close to the author, up to the coincidence of individual life events. The term “wounded hero” was introduced in American literary criticism, especially for these characters.

Jake Barnes is a correspondent for an American newspaper in Europe (like Hemingway himself at the time). Like Frederick Henry and Robert Jordan, he is a type of “American Abroad” common in American literature.

The words of the epigraph to the novel about the “lost generation” became a term denoting people poisoned by war and violence, who did not find places in the post-war world, who lost their previous values of life and did not acquire new ones. These people, living between two world wars and alienated from the whole world, were also described by R. Aldington and E. Remarque. Hemingway, however, did not consider himself an artist of the “lost generation.” Jake Barnes belongs to those of his representatives who feel that life involves something more than the circumstances of an individual person, something natural. Hemingway, surviving a front-line wound and debunking romantic ideals, describes in a letter from the hospital the situation reinforced by him later in this image: “How good it would be to die in a happy period of unspent youth, to leave the world in the streams of light than to have a mutilated body and debunked illusions!”. The writer does not say anything about Jake’s life before the events depicted in the novel, revealing his vision of events in the war later, in the image of Frederick Henry. But Jake received in the war more serious injuries, in comparison with the author’s; he is a physical impotent.

Hemingway presented the wounding of the hero as a symbol, marking the situation of the “lost generation.” Nevertheless, a hero who has lost faith in romantic ideals believes in the self-worth of the individual, in the value of simple things. His definition of the immoral is simple and consists in the assertion “if it is disgusting after.”  He has a sense of humor and is not inclined to throw out his troubles into the world. Like all of his main characters, Hemingway gave him the features of a player who plays in the “ring” of life.

The consciousness of Jake Barnes, like the consciousness of Frederick Henry, is divided into “day” and “night”; the second state is more painful for him. Hemingway himself could not sleep at night after a concussion since he was troubled by nightmares. Unlike Frederick Henry, just not thinking how to live, Jake thinks, but still does not know how.

Jake Barnes can be called Romeo of thу “lost generation,” a modified literary type of a loving and at the same time a beloved man, separated from his girlfriend by the power of tragic circumstances beyond his control, and in this case, it is the nature of his injury.  The beginning of a love story is autobiographical. Like Hemingway, Jake falls in love with the sister of mercy, who feels sympathy for him in a hospital.  He is the hero of “overcoming” in this situation. Despite the nightmares of the “night” consciousness, he finds the courage to remain a man and support his beloved woman. The core of personality and the source of the values of life Jake, like Hemingway finds independently in himself, in literary work, having found the strength and courage to be a support not only for himself but also to surrounding people.

The theme of the “lost generation,” inseparably linked in the literature with the image of Jake Barnes, has transcended the time frame in which the “lost” heroes of the first wave lived and perished.

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