Money and Value in The Sun Also Rises

Open Access
Author:
Flanagan, Coral J
Area of Honors:
English (University College)
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Robert Lawrence Caserio Jr., Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Hemingway
  • Money
  • The Sun Also Rises
Abstract:
This thesis analyzes the role of money as a metaphor for value in The Sun Also Rises. Repeatedly in the text—most notably during a passage called Jake’s Reverie—spending practices are explicitly linked to other values, suggesting the symbolic role that money plays in delineating the ethics of this novel. Previous scholarly approaches to this topic have tended to focus only on the most literal implications of payment and spending, particularly emphasizing the philosophy of “exchange of values,” or simple equivalence, that Jake expresses during his reverie. However, this framework ignores the typically implicit quality of Hemingway’s narration, and thus obscures important interactions in the text that are not based on one-to-one exchange. In fact, I argue that Jake’s “exchange of values” philosophy is not the ethical center of the novel, but rather a pose he uses to distract himself from his internal conflict between morality and disbelief. The most important values in the novel lie in relationships that defy the concept of equivalence.