People often mentally distance themselves from their peers do to flaws andirregularities that they may suffer from. In The Sun Also Rises Jake Barnesconstantly seems to be distanced and un willing to accept the people andenvironment that he lives in. The impotence that Jake Barnes physically suffersfrom leads him to suffer from mental impotence regarding the reality of hisactions and the environment in which he lives. Aside from Jakes own actions,this impotence is reflected through supporting characters such as Brett and Cohnby the authors use of the literary devices parody and irony. Jake Barnes is aveteran ex-patriot of WWI living in Paris, France. During the war Jake receiveda wound that led him into a life of physical impotence. While in a hospital Jakemet and fell in love with Lady Brett Ashley whom he desires throughout thenovel.
Jake is the editor of a newspaper in France, yet his life circulatesaround his journey to find meaning and acceptance into society. Jake is oftenmeasuring the morals of others and trying to find an appropriate way to go abouthis own life. Jake and the other characters, who suffer from similar mentalimpotency for one reason or another, are often found to be drinking and seekingsexual relations.
Through these actions Jake is attempting to numb himself tothe reality that is the world he lives in yet does not understand. Jake goes tobars and drinks so that he might escape from the turmoil his meaningless lifehas become. Jake is often found to be making attempts to please Brett in any waypossible, through this he reveals that he is attempting to gain her acceptanceand affection but does not realize that many of these actions are only leadingher further from him. Jake feels unaccepted because that he cannot participatein a ritualistic part of the lives that his peers exploit, sex.
The use ofparody in The Sun Also Rises allows for the reader to relate the charactersdifferent experiences to their impotence. I one of the first scenes Jake isfound riding in an horse drawn open air taxi with a prostitute whom he haspicked up to keep him company and give the appearance that he is promiscuous.Just after this incident Jake is riding in an enclosed taxi with Brettparticipating in an emotional struggle. The first scene is romantic and flagrantwith its appealing environmental descriptions and fancy carriage whereas in thesecond scene the surroundings depict construction and a more dismal environment,not at all romantic. This parody is relevant because that Jake did not want tobe exposed to the rest of the world when his body did not accept Brett, yet inthe carriage with the prostitute he was merely attempting to appear as if hewere a part of the sexual atmosphere that he lives in. Jake spends the entirenovel searching for the affection of Lady Brett, yet in many instances urges herto go and be with other men. Through such irony it is revealed that Jake wantsmore than anything to make Brett happy. When Jakes handicap does not allow himto be with Brett he attempts to please her by finding others that can do so.
Bydoing so Jakes emotions are only damaged to a greater extent yet he sees it asrational. Jake becomes jealous and angry after Cohn has an affair with Brettbecause that he believes that Cohn is the only one in his circle of friends whohas not become disillusioned and daunted by society. The Sun Also Rises is thestory of Jake Barnes search for a way to go about living his life and findacceptance. Throughout the novel the reader is allowed to see what is wrong withhis life and what he is doing wrong in his attempts to fix it. Jake does notgrasp that he has the ability to gain Bretts acceptance without being hersexual partner.