I think that Mike wants to always pay his tab because of his "inferiority complex" that you mentioned. He wants to have control of something in his life and feel independent by doing so. Mike always tries to seem strong and doesn't enjoy other people doing things that he feels he is responsible for. Mike might feel inferior to others based on circumstances that occured during the war. Although I am not sure of what may have happened to him while fighting, he came out of war feeling troubled. To make up for all of his other faults, he feels the need to seem responsible when it comes to paying for his tabs. He also has to deal with an ex-fiancee who frequently leaves him to have affairs with other men. While he is not having control with his relationship, he needs to take control over another aspect of his life.
As far as your second question goes, Jake has suffered not only physical, but also mental and social problems. Jake feels self-conscious now because of the outcome of the war and tries to make up for his loss by trying to have control of certain situations, such as always paying the tab, which we have discussed before. He feels inferior to others, and like Mike, tries to do something to make himself feel like a better person and to have others respect him.
On page 196, Mike says that while he is always bankrupt and borrowing money, he always pays it back. Since he seems to feel inferior to all of the other characters (and who can blame him really? He was engaged to Brett before their trip to Spain; yet once they arrived, she left him for Pedro. If something like that happened to me, I sure wouldn't feel pretty good or confident with myself), maybe he feels that by paying everyone back, he becomes a better man. He is no way, shape, or form a good person now. As we all know, he is always drunk and always fighting. He seems to waste his life away by drowning himself in alcohol, most likely his way of escaping his troubling past (the war). However, maybe he feels that by paying his debts, he can almost make up for his poor behavior. Or maybe he simply feels that by paying, his company will not leave him. Why would anyone stay by his side if he both acted in a terrible manner, and did not pay for anything? Who wants a friend like that?
Now for his second question. Jake's problems from the war are a combination of physical, mental, and social. He has been hurt in the war in a way which prevents him from being intimate with a woman. This obviously this leads to mental problems. He most likely feels insecure now, and a little subordinate to the men surrounding him. Finally, his injury in the war has also become a social problem. Itís likely that one reason Brett does not stay with him is because he cannot get intimate with her. To me, Brett seems like the kind of person who would make a big deal of that rather than appreciate the friendship he has to offer.
While I agree with Melissa & Alyssa on Mike having a great inferiority complex, I don't think it's the greatest. It seems like his confidence went from a stable level of "Well, I'm an okay guy; I have my flaws, but I'm still getting the girls [Brett], I still have my guy friends...I'm living the good life" to a "I'm a nobody" because of events like Brett leaving him. I would think that the huge change from stability to unstability makes it seem as if he has the greatest inferiority complex, when it's just that he was the only one that changed that greatly in that aspect. In my opinion, Cohn has the greatest inferiority complex, and Jake describes it in the very first chapter. In that beginning of the novel, instead of talking about himself and his life, he talks about Cohn, and his experience at Princeton. Since Cohn was Jewish, he wasn't accepted like everyone else at Princeton and tried to run away from the problem by becoming a boxer. It was a sport that required no interaction with others, which was a plus for Cohn who was rather shy.
I actually believe that Mike really isn't that concerned about paying his tabs because he doesn't actually pay for much throughout the novel. He may say that he will pay somebody back, but who knows if he follows through with it? When Mike was with Bill and Edna at a bar, Jake said that the fights they got into were because Mike probably owed money to some of the men. And when Mike said he borrowed money from Montoya, it was actually Brett's money that he used to pay the man back.
I agree with Nora though, that Cohn seems to have the greatest inferiority complex. He seems too dependent and lacking in self-esteem. He is very submissive and he is easily dominated by the female species. Even the first woman he was with, Frances, seemed to rule him. Jake also mentions that he would probably try to get back together with her after being rejected by Brett and leaving Spain.
I think the effect that the war had on Brett was mostly social and mental, only because it affected Jake physically. Brett and Jake met during the war, if I'm not mistaken. He was her "true love", but because he couldn't be intimate with her, she moved on. And after being with an abusive husband, she became a rampant butterfly, moving from man to man to satisfy her needs. She says she is in love with these men, but does love really work like that? If Jake wasn't physically incapable, would it be too far to assume that Brett would only be with him? I don't think so. I believe the war affected the successful, loving relationship that Jake and Brett could have had.
I agree with Alyssa. When Mike tries to reassure everyone that even though he is always broke and borrowing money, he always pays it back, he is trying to show everyone that he is responsible. Since he was labeled with the title "The Bad Drunk" he probably wants to prove that he isn't. If someone who drinks as much as I did calls me a "Bad Drunk" I am going to do everything that I can to prove that person wrong. I feel that is what Mike is trying to do. He wants to prove that he is responsible and isn't a "Bad Drunk". He feels inferior to others because he was labeled with that title and he sometimes has to rely on others to lend him money. Since he wants to break out of the label of the "Bad Drunk" he wants to pay the money back to the people he borrows from and be independent by paying for his tab.
Jake was the character who has affected. He has been damaged by the war the most. He was shot in his manhood which can be mentally scarring for life. Being a guy, if I was shot in my manhood I would never mentally or emotionally recover. The thought of never being able to engage in sexual activity again is frightening. Physically it must be difficult to do certain things involving that "organ" that he injured in the war. Being the kind of person that he is, it must pain him that he can have intercourse with women that he is truly interested in (Brett). He is learning to deal with it but he will never fully cope with his injury.
I agree that Mike has quite the inferiority complex. I think it can be seen every time he bashes on a guy Brett is with other than himself. One example is with Cohn and another is Romero. Mike always says rude things to them or Brett about them, especially when drunk. He doesn't like that he isnt enough for Brett and that she still goes off with other guys who to him are pretty rock bottom. I cant find where exactly but around chapter 16-17 Mike says something along the lines of, "Sure Brett has been with many other guys but none of them have ever been Jews and none have ever hung around afterwards".
I think the effects of the war had a very physical and emotional effect on Jake. After his injury, a physical effect of the war, he had to have felt different emotionally after being "emasculated" as Brian Fiallo so put it in his answer to Brian Turner's question.
I do agree that Mike has an inferiority complex as a result of his drinking. I also think that he insists on paying because money is the only thing that he has to prove to other people and to himself that he is useful and that he can contribute something to a situation.
However, in comparison to a character like Jake, he certainly does not have the greatest inferiority complex. I think that Jake displays the most long-lasting effects of the war. Not only was he physically injured. His injury prevents him from demonstrating the love he has for Brett, causing her to reject him and leading to even more emotional trauma for Jake. He is not only incapable of having sex. His love is never reciprocated and he often feels as if he is subordinate to other men. Unlike Mike, Jake can never recover from his injury and it will forever affect his body, his relationships with other people and his opinion of himself.
Joined: 14†November†2005 Location: United States
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Posted: 02†December†2005 at 4:42pm | IP Logged
The effects of the war on Jake are the most drastic of all the
characters' because his physical injury is symbolic of his identity as
a man. With that injury, it not only rendered him useless as a male
human being (in terms of passing on a legacy), but also as Brett's
husband, which essentially all he wants to be. He is truly
representative of the Lost Generation because he cannot even contribute
to the creation of the next generation. His injury made him unable to
find any stability because he will always question his being. Does the
lack of a penis make him less of a man? It seems that to Brett, yes it
does. And ultimately, her opinion is the only one that matters to him.
Jake will do anything for her. They know they love each other, but
Brett will never commit to Jake because he will never be able to meet
her needs. He allows her to use him for her needs. Whatever he can
provide for her save sexual relations, he will do. With that, he is
less of a man because he does not "wear the pants" in the relationship.
Brett is the dominant party in all of her relationships, and her
relationship with Jake, either the one they have in the book or perhaps
the one they would have had if he were not injured, is no different.
Jake's mere association with Brett makes him less of a man because she
controls him. The social effects he suffers also precipitated from the
war. As a "lost" man, he lives his life without aim or purpose.
Whatever he may do to try to enjoy life or even to cover his pain, it
is all futile. This is the case for the Lost Generation because the
values they once held were all gone when they came back. All this stems
from his injury and his experience in the war. After all, they did
first meet then.
Personally I think the irony of his situation is that he might as well
be Brett's "gay friend." Early in the novel when Brett entered the cafe
with a throng of flamboyant (possibly gay?) youths, Jake expressed true
disdain for them. Brett said she could get drunk safely around them
because they would not take advantage of her sexually. According to her
logic, she could then get drunk around Jake safely because he would not
take advantage of her sexually whether he wanted to or not. Jake is her
pillar for emotional strength. This is more or less the case for a
woman and her "gay friend."
au revoir mes amis!
__________________ your mom on a tuesday! // vaidehi&maude111805
it not only rendered him useless as a male
human being (in terms of passing on a legacy)
That is the ultimate lost generation: the one that never has a chance to
BE. Jake's loss is so personal and tremendous. Maybe this is a way for
Hemingway to express his exasperation for being labeled one of the lost
generation: he gives us a character that will experience loss yesterday,
today, and for all the future too.
Take that, Gertrude!! Jake is a Jake is a Jake. Never anything more. Not
so pretty to think so. But he is doing the best he can to soldier on. The
veteran who lost both hands in the FarenHYPE 9/11 film we saw... he
reminds me of Jake. He doesn't want any pity, he's not feeling sorry for
himself, and please, don't speak for him he can speak well enough on his
own. We study these books in the Humanities... in the mix of literature
and history and philosophy, but I really believe what we wind up doing
most of the time is, well, we're really examining love. I think if we trawl
this story for the objective correlative, all the emotional signposts will
point to love. Albeit the kind of love a super macho cream-puff like
Hemingway would commit to writing in his very refined and elegant
prose. That is to say: a very masculine form of unselfish devotion, to
love and to life. Maybe?
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