The Depths of Being an Outcast: Jake vs Robert “The Sun Also Rises”

Posted: November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized
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This is a character analysis that I have submitted as a research paper. It is solely for informational purposes, please do not use as your own.

The Depths of Being an Outcast

In the novel, The Sun also Rises, Jake and Robert are both similar in that they consider themselves to be outsiders. While Jake seems to have a better chance at integrating into the group of friends, Robert has no chance due to his maturity level. The fact that Jake went to war helps his cause, where he has a more developed and mature attitude. Although Jake has a better maturity level in a sense, Robert is able to speak his mind and will go after the things he wants in life despite his insecurity. Jake and Robert are both outcasts because of their differences from the other characters, as well as the fact that Brett greatly influences how the other characters react to their presence. While both consider themselves outsiders, it displays the difference of their morality and views of life in comparison to the others, yet it also emphasizes the idea that one’s position in society also affects their relationships with others.

Throughout the novel, Jake singles himself out as an outsider because of his insecurities due to his war injuries. Jake constantly isolates himself, as people often find him in his room or doing work. The point of Jake’s self-isolation, rides on the fact that he does not want to discuss his war injuries, as well as the fact that he believes that he does not deserve any better because of the loss of his manhood.  As Jake says, “I had discovered that was the best way to get rid of friends,” he displays his motive to isolate himself, despite the fact that it is done through alcohol. (Hemingway 19) Jakes use of alcohol is the same as the others, as it is a means to drown out their problems in life, as well as a temporary escape from it. It is ironic that Jake occasionally uses alcohol when Brett visits his residence, as if he is trying to get rid of her at times, like he uses alcohol to take away all his troubles, such as his constant desire to have Brett to himself. While Jake isolates himself because of his problems in life, he also does it due to his views of those that surround him. He has an undertone of disgust towards the men around him, specifically those who let women take the role of the men, when the man is capable of holding his position, because of his own loss of men dominance, he dislikes that the others willingly give it up, as he portrays in his visit with Cohn and Frances.

Brett plays a large role in Jake’s isolation with her rejection and her attitude. When Brett says, “I don’t think so. I’d just tromper you with everybody,” she raises Jake’s insecurities to the surface. (Hemingway 62) She brings him to think of himself as less than a man because of his injuries, which causes him to have the mind frame that he will not be accepted fully as he is now. Her rejection of him based on the fact that they will be sexually inactive provides a basis for Jake, where one can only truly be a man if he can satisfy his woman, as Brett’s declaration states. Brett’s attitude towards Jake not only leads him on, but it destroys his pride as a man considering that she constantly reminds him of the fact that he cannot have sex as she says, “We would have had such a good damned time together.” (Hemingway 251) Although Brett may be the reason for his insecurities, Jake is the one who takes control of his own reactions and thoughts, thus proving that even if Brett is a factor, it is Jake who causes his own isolation from the others.

Robert on the other hand, is an outcast because of the opinions of the other characters. They think of him as annoying and immature, which gives the characters a basis as to why they should reject him. When Brett says, “He’s still only a child,” she emphasizes the idea that those around him put him on the same level as a child who they only tolerate to a certain extent. (Hemingway 29) Yet it seems that they actually reject him due to his forwardness, in that he will chase after his desires, while the other characters do not. Robert is the only character in the group who not only knows what he wants, but will try to achieve it, as he says, “Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it?” (Hemingway 19)  He displays his motive in finding a way to live a satisfying life. Robert figuratively takes the bull by the horns and jumps into his problems without hesitation or consequence; however that is also the reason for the other’s animosity. They just sit and stall, while constantly thinking of the consequences, such as failing. Their animosity holds an undertone of jealousy. When Harvey says, “I misjudged you…You’re not a moron. You’re only a case of arrested development,” Harvey mocks him as well as points out the fact that not only do the others not like Robert’s presence, but they also see him as the immature individual. (Hemingway 51) As the characters label him as the more immature individual, Cohn is the outcast of the group as not only do they not like his persistence, but they also despise that they cannot bring him down to their level of confidence.

Jake and Robert are similar due to Brett’s rejection of them both. While Jake may be closer to Brett, unlike Robert he knows that Brett will never turn to him in commitment due to his injuries. Robert on the other hand has a chance with Brett in general, as he is able to achieve her main desire in men, yet his immaturity affects the guarantee of the position. In a sense they both have persistence, while Jake is more passive than Robert’s blunt approach. Jake is consistent as he continues to do Brett’s bidding, when she calls him to her or she goes to him in her time of need. Although he knows that he will never have a chance to have her, he is still there by her side, which portrays his loyalty. No matter the immoral way in which Brett acts, Jake is willing to accept her as is by him not pushing her to abide to his morals, yet she rejects him because of his inability to satisfy her desire. Robert’s persistence rides on the fact that he is open about his desire for Brett. Yet unlike Jake, Robert does not want Brett the way she is, he constantly tries to conform her to his ideal, as in he wants her to stop seeing other men.

Although both Jake and Robert may be outcasts, they hold a similarity with the other members of the group. Essentially the main similarity is that they all have insecurity in them that they want to escape from, as Jake says, “Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that,” he addresses Robert’s idea of trying to find his own identity through traveling. (Hemingway 19) He also addresses his own insecurities of trying to run from himself. While Brett may seem like she knows exactly what she wants, her weakness and insecurity is that she is afraid of love and commitment, as she displays through her constant hopping between the men. Mike, her fiancé, also has insecurity, which is in the fact that he is bankrupt because of his bad affairs with previous relations. To contrast the insecurities that they all have, the characters constantly become drunk in the novel to forget, as they are often found to be in cafes or bars. Brett’s indecisiveness of what she wants consequently affects both Jake and Robert, as they have a hope, through her leading them on.

Jake and Robert are outsiders due to the fact that they have differences, yet there is a difference between their isolation. The opinions of those around Robert bring about his isolation, as they do not agree with his character, therefore it is involuntary isolation. Jake, on the other hand, voluntarily isolates himself from the group due to his pride as a man. Jake and Robert are both outcasts because of their differences from the other characters, as well as the fact that Brett greatly influences how the other characters react to their presence.

Works Cited

Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner, 2006. Print.


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