Joel Bettridge

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 47 p.)


Ernest Hemingway -- 1899-1961 -- Criticism and interpretation, Gender identity in literature, Sex role in literature




"Isn't it pretty to think so?" The ambiguity of this question, posed by Jake Barnes in the last line of The Sun Also Rises, is a reflection of the novel's evolving definition of what constitutes a relationship. As the focus of Hemingway criticism has slowly broken from tired discussions of misogyny a space has opened for considering the complex ways his writings address questions of gendered identity. Through this lens critics have asked exactly what kind of man and women Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley represent. For decades critics and scholars have viewed this final line as having a negative connotation, signifying the death of love not only in the novel, but in the era. However, this reading fails to take into account the evolving gender roles the Brett and Jake represent. My essay looks at the novel's protagonists not simply as Brett or Jake, but also as Brett and Jake. Through this lens it becomes clear that Hemingway's portrayal of these characters is not one of the "bitch-goddess" and a defeated male, but of two people who, through their rapidly evolving gender roles and sexuality, are uniquely suited to be side by side when the rubble of the fiesta comes crashing down around them, not merely as friends, but as the only relationship that can truly exist.


Portland State University. Dept. of English

Persistent Identifier