This study will compare and contrast two novels by Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom The Bell Tolls. The study will include consideration of setting (time and place, and how time and place influence values, attitudes and the ethical systems of the works); theme; major and minor characters; conflict; and style and techniques.
The theme of the books will establish the thesis of the study, and that theme will be articulated along the lines established by Wirt Williams in The Tragic Art of Ernest Hemingway. The thesis of the study will be that Hemingway's works in general, and these two novels specifically, are tragic tales, and that this tragic outlook influences every aspect of Hemingway's writing.
The Sun Also Rises has as its setting the Europe of the early 1920s. The time is one in which the world was finding its bearings after the First World War, and a time in which the Americans in the novel are seeking to find themselves in a foreign land, having left their native country for various reasons of dissatisfaction and disillusion. Some critics have argued that Hemingway's novel was meant to be a depiction of the "lost generation" of young post-World War I Americans looking for themselves in a setting stripped of its spiritual meaning and of any values in which the world believed before the war. As Baker writes, ". . . There can be no doubt that, with his brilliant dramatization of the moral predicament of a small group of Jazz Age D.P.'s, Hemingway offered a 'myth' whose extension in social space far outreached the novel's national boundaries of France and Spain. What he had done could be regarded as dramatized social history. But it was not intended to be the social history of a lost generation" (Baker 79-80).
Hemingway himself denied his use of setting was meant to depict the tragedy of an entire generation, but it is nevertheless true that the book is a tragedy depicting the generally lost indivi...