The story by Ernest Hemingway is a story of how powerful sex can make people behave strangely. The author places the characters in different settings in order for him to portray their diverse traits. This essay will attempt to show how Hemingway uses setting to demonstrate his character's moral and ethical standards in his book. The essay will show how a variety of settings has been used to bring on the surface the characters attitude towards life. Some of the characters in the text are Jake -Barnes, Robert Cohn, Frances Clyne, Lady Brett Ashley and Bill Gorton among others. The different settings used by the author in the book are Paris, Burgette, and San Sebastian in Spain, Pamplona and Madrid. These are different settings that will be pursued throughout the essay.
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When the novel opens, the rather affluent nature of Robert Cohn is seen although it is a bit strange because he is portrayed as restless. His girlfriend on the other hand is seen as too possessive and demanding for a lot of attention. The principled nature of Jake is seen when he blatantly refuses to accompany his rather disturbed friend to South America. Jake sees his friend off although in a painful state because he is not sure whether it is the right thing to do (Hemingway, p 23). The attitude of these characters towards life while in Paris is brought out by the author in different ways. Cohn is portrayed as somebody who has given up in life and is stressed. Due to that, he decides to go and have sometime out in the dance club. Jakes is equally not himself when he turns down the invitation of his friend to go with him to South America. He is portrayed as indifferent although he has different attitude altogether. These two major characters have a negative attitude towards life if the description above is anything to go by (Hemingway, p 33).
The author brings on the surface lady Brett Ashley a lover of Jakes in the limelight. Her rather strong nature is seen by the reader given that she had given her husband a divorce without any regret. Her independent nature is equally seen as she likes doing things her own way. Any man coming around her should be very careful with her as her good looks speak volumes for her. At Paris when she happens to bump into Cohn in a pub, she tells him point blank that although she loves Jake, she simply cannot commit her life to him owing to his impotency (Hemingway, p 53). This happens when Jake is seriously injured during war in England. Going by the above disposition by Brett, her openness is equally portrayed. The author has used the above meeting between Cohn and Brett to bring on the surface the feelings Brett has towards Jake. Her cynical attitude towards life in this particular episode is seen. The fact that she loves Jake but cannot be with him because of his impotency nature is itself strange.
When the setting shifts to Pamplona, the promiscuous character of Brett is further developed. The author gives her extraordinary character of being in a position of manipulating men to take them to bed. It is strange how she manages to have them all to herself. She simply does not allow herself to get committed to any man and this does not bring any comfort in her life (Hemingway, p 64). With the good part of the story revolving around her and all movements she manages to make, her attitude towards life is rather strange and very negative. She leads a miserable life of exchanging men like clothes. Her nature is used by the author to portray men as easy prey for women. Due to her, the hostile nature of Jake is equally portrayed as well as his feelings of inadequacy.
By the time the story shifts to Burguete, Bill and Jake are spending time together. Jake is seen a rather different character from the rest. His attitude towards life is in this case seen as he is desperate to have Brett back in his life something which cannot happen. He is seen as having given up and does not see any reason to continue living (Hemingway, p 72). He cannot bring himself to understand how an injury in the war caused him the love of his life. The author gives the reader more reason to see this character as somebody who perceives life in a very negative way given that; he cannot get a solution to his many problems. He seems to have been lost in a generation that he seems to understand so well.
In yet another way that the author attempts to develop his characters in different settings can again be seen in Brett while in San Sebastian in Spain. A woman who likes independence, she is taken by the author from one city to the next and one pub to the next in her pursue for happiness (Hemingway, p 84). This leaves Jake in a frustrated state when he learns from Cohn that she plans to get married to mike Campbell. Her unsatisfied and miserable attitude towards life is brought on the surface by the writer. The author continues to show this when the setting shifts to Pamplona.
From the bull fight, the setting of the story shifts to Madrid. The forgiving nature of Jake is seen when he grants it to Cohn who had already betrayed him. The hostile nature of Cohn is seen when he attacks Jake and Mike. He equally bounces on Romero when he realizes that he has an affair with Brett. The negative attitude of Cohn towards life is seen. He seems to have given up his own friends due to the obsession he has over Brett (Hemingway, p 91). He gets frustrated to an extent of him sobbing bitterly. His strange nature of somebody who is confused is evident when he attacks Romero and attempts to shake hands with him as a sign of asking for forgiveness.
When the story comes to an end, the three gentlemen are left with no choice but to separate ways. They decide to move from Spain to Bayonne and move on with life. Time for relaxation has finally set in and Jake decides to spend sometime in San Sebastian. It while here that Brett communicates to him to join her in Madrid. He does not waste time and moves on to meet her. Jake later meets Brett alone in a hotel where she reveals to have broken up with Romero (Hemingway, p 23). It is strange how she decides to have Mike back but all this changes again when, in a strange twist of event, she ends up with Jake. The author successfully manages to show the traits of different characters using one major character Brett. Men are easily manipulated by one female character through out the story to an extent of them fighting each other. This is a deliberate move by the author.