Defying the Code

  • Richard Fantina


In one of the most quoted lines in The Sun Also Rises,Jake Barnes as narrator tells the reader, “Well, it was a rotten way to be wounded” (31), referring to the World War I injury that severely damaged his genitals, leaving him sexually dismembered. Concerning this injury, which never receives a full description, Hemingway later claimed that he carefully tried to demonstrate that the “important distinction is that his wound was physical and not psychological.”1 Hemingway, in this intention stated three decades after the novel appeared, wants to leave Jake’s psychic masculinity intact. But Jake certainly exhibits psychological wounds as well. Already, in this early novel, Hemingway’s choice of a nearly castrated hero who yet remains a decidedly masculine, if mangled, presence highlights a personal crisis in masculinity.


Female Character Female Dominance Dominant Woman Bell Toll Dream Sequence 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted in George Plimpton, “An Interview with Ernest Hemingway,” in Hemingway and His Critics, ed. Carlos Baker (New York: Hill and Wang, 1961), 29.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J.F. Buckley, “Echoes of Closeted Desires: The Narrator and Character Voices of Jake Barnes,” in The Hemingway Review, 19(2) (Spring 2000), 79.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wolfgang E.H. Rudat, “Hemingway’s Sexual Otherness: What’s Really Funny in The Sun Also Rises,” in Hemingway Repossessed, ed. Kenneth Rosen (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994), 176.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ira Elliott, “Performance Art: Jake Barnes and ‘Masculine’ Signification in The Sun Also Rises.” American Literature, 67(1) (1995), 86. All references are cited by page in the text.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    It is unfortunate that one of the few recorded interactions between Hemingway and Dietrich is the exchange reported by Lillian Ross in the New Yorker profile that amounts to little more than inane prattle. See Lillian Ross’s 1950, Portrait of Hemingway (New York: Avon Library, 1961, 52–58). Dietrich’s daughter recently donated 30 letters to her mother from Hemingway to the JFK Library but these are unavailable to the public until 2007.Google Scholar
  6. See James Roth, “News From the Hemingway Collection,” Hemingway Review, 23 (1) (Fall 2003), 137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 9.
    Ernest Hemingway, True at First Light (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1999), 281. All references are to this edition and cited by page in the text. Where clarification is necessary, the title is abbreviated to TAFL.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Pat Califia, “Introduction,” Sex Changes (San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1997) <> (August 11, 2004).Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Allen Josephs, “Reality and Invention in For Whom the Bell Tolls, or Reflections on the Nature of the Historical Novel,” in Hemingway Repossessed, ed. Kenneth Rosen (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994), 94.Google Scholar
  10. 45.
    Kathy G. Willingham, “Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden: Writing with the Body” in The Hemingway Review 12(2) (1993), 46–61. More recently, Marc Hewson applies Cixous’s theories to A Farewell to Arms, in “‘The Real Story of Ernest Hemingway’: Cixous, Gender and A Farewell to Arms,” Hemingway Review 22(2) (Spring 2003), 51–62.Google Scholar

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© Richard Fantina 2005

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  • Richard Fantina

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