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opistyles
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Posted: 13 November 2006 at 4:58pm | IP Logged Quote opistyles

Hello everyone. I am working on critical analysis essay considering Brett as symbolic of the matador and the male characters symbolic of the bulls. Brett is a very skilled matador, dancing with the hearts of Jake, Robert, and Mike. "As long as a bull-fighter stays in his own terrain he is comparatively safe. Each time he enters into the terrain of the bull he is in great danger" (213). Brett gets very close to the men but never makes a positive, true connection, just as a matador comes very close to a bull but never makes contact other than contact that is harmful to the bull. This is Brett's way of staying safe. If she connects with any of these men, she becomes vulnerable. Connection represents a change in her ways, which she fears. When handed Pedro's blood stained cape she says, "Funny...how one doesn't mind the blood" (211). I believe this shows her as a matador. Blood stained clothing is expected in bull fighting. It comes with the territory. In this sense, blood symbolizes emotion, real feelings, or life in general. She doesn't mind the blood or pain she causes the men and herself to feel. She is so set in her ways and sworn to this lost generation that she has learned to detach from her own emotions and the emotions of others. She doesn't mind the blood or rather she chooses not to acknowledge the blood. This idea is still in its early stages of development, so please let me know your thoughts.

Also, I would like to consider bull fighting as it symbolically relates to the entire message of the book. Bull fights symbolize and forshadow events that take place among the characters. The most intense bull fight where one man is killed and another is hurt but dissappears, symbolizes and forshadows the climax of the novel, with the fights between the characters. In this sense, though, Brett is sybolized by Bocanegra, the bull that killed Vincent Girones. Girones symbolizes Jake? I believe Jake is most harmed (killed) by Brett in the way she claims to love him but chooses to be a whore. The fact that she sleeps around is salt in Jake's wounds because of his impotance. I think it would be less painful for Jake if Brett never admitted her love for him. This way Jake would not feel so betrayed by Brett who says one thing (she loves Jake) but does another (she's a whore). What do you think? Is it more painful to be loved by a hypocrit than to not be loved at all? Also, the man who was hurt by Bocanegra but then dissappeared symbolizes Robert. He is only hurt because he was able to have sex with Brett and knows that she truly doesn't love him. Like the injured man that dissappeared, Robert dissappears as well. Let me know your thoughts.

I believe bull fights symbolize real life, passion, and emotion. It represents all that the lost generation lacks. Hemingway changes his rhetoric when he writes of bull fighting. Instead of dull and short, Hemingway becomes extremely exressive and descriptive.

I'd like to somehow tie all these ideas together to form a critical analysis essay. Do you see any connection between these ideas? Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you.

 

 



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hijo
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Posted: 14 November 2006 at 12:08am | IP Logged Quote hijo

Dear Opistyles: hmmm. An interesting premise, but I'm afraid (in my opinion) it strays.

There is, in my mind, no question that bullfighting - Hemingway's knowledge and interest in it - is a key to some of the novel's symbolic heft. Simple example: when I first read "Death In The Afternoon," it dawned on me why the novel is separated into three books.

Bullfighting is always done in three acts - Tercios - the last act, or "suprema suerte," being when the matador and bull are bound briefly in a death dance, with death being in control and neither character truly knowing the outcome of their actions until the dance ends abruptly.

But I'd caution you against trying to put the characters, other than Jake, in the role of matador or bull.

Matadors are all toreros - people who work with bulls. The only thing that sets them apart is the fact that, in addition to "working with" bulls in a bullfight, in the end it is only their job to kill the bull.

You should also be aware that the bull, in a bullfight, is the "protagonist." It is the toreros who are the "antagonists." Art and grace become the heros, surpassing brute instinct and force (or not, depending on the bull as well as the matador).

And it is far easier, for most people, to "not mind" blood when it isn't human - after all, for those who eat animals (like myself), blood of some sort usually is involved. And for those who know how those animals are killed, a lot of blood isn't minded - it's just part of the process that gets the meat to your grocery case.

Now. Using your premise - that bullfighting is a key to the novel, and to the "lost generation," I'd suggest Brett is no more matador than Jake, though Jake may rightly be more bull than matador (but more like a steer).

I object, and not for the sake of propriety, to your suggesting Brett is a "whore." She's not, you know. She's not accepting money for sleeping with various men. So why is she doing it? Why does she decide not to "be a b****" and not ruin Pedro? And does she truly love Jake?
Every generation I've run into (including, perhaps, especially, my own) seems hell-bent on confusing sex with love. They aren't the same.

You forget when Jake sees her come into the bar, she's with her "fancy" (gay) friends. Why? Most women I've met with gay friends point out they can be totally themselves around them, and they don't feel either threatened (competition) by them, or hounded by them. They're "safe" friends. Perhaps for the same reason bulls are led out of the ring (when they're "invalidos,") by steers. The bulls - a mystery still to me - invariably follow the steers out of the ring, eventually. Just as they follow them down the streets of Pamplona.

I guess what I'm suggesting, or trying clumsily to suggest, is that it is indeed potential for a very good, critical essay of the novel with bullfighting as the symbolic undercurrent of the characters as well as the events - but it seems from your suggested details that perhaps, before embarking on the essay, you would do well to study more of bullfighting.

Best, and good luck,
hijo


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erogers4
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Posted: 14 November 2006 at 8:46am | IP Logged Quote erogers4

I think you are onto something when you imply that Brett is symbolically the metador. She does try to "control" those around her. In fact, she does so very successfully. I would however disagree that she is a "whore". Her inability to be alone shows a lack of self-respect and self-love. She "must" be with a man at all times to validate her self-worth. - More to come... 

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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 14 November 2006 at 1:19pm | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

There is an essay I just read which deals with exactly this topic. The book is called Hemingway and Women and the essay is by Jamie Barlowe - The Sun Hasn't set yet; Brett Ashly and the code hero debate.

She traces the history of bullfighting as a masculine vs feminie activity with, of all things, the matador as feminie; slippers, pink stockings, tight-fitting clothes (the so-called suit of lights) which emphasize the figure, pony-tail. 

Try to find this.

Pjk

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hijo
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Posted: 15 November 2006 at 3:45pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

To do this essay well, I contend you need to learn much more about the symbolism that is inherent in bullfights themselves, not just try and apply symbolism from what little most people know about them to fit a pre-determined theme.

Indeed, there are "feminine" aspects to the bullfight, as Peter derrived from the essay he mentioned. Slippers and pink socks, etc.

However, the "ponytail" isn't considered a "feminine" aspect - it is the colletta, the bullfighter's symbol of being a part of the society, or culture, of bullfighting (tauromaquia). In the past, most actually had a colletta - just as samurai wore similar "ponytails." Now, they tend to simulate it with a kind of button that makes it appear they have an actual ponytail.

Bulls are never feminine. One can (and people have) argue that the bullfighters, therefore, take on a feminine relationship with the bull, leading it around and ultimately killing it. But this tends to be an extremely oversimplistic, American-oriented, misogynistic view of women.

There have been female matadors, in fact. Christina Sanchez was the most recent I'm aware of, and she inspired many others. However, because of the unusualness of a woman in a "masculine" profession - bullfighting - she became far more popular particularly outside of Spain than among aficionados.

This isn't because she was a woman - as some threatened males in American politics have felt threatened by the non-cookie-baking Hillary Clinton since her husband was president - but because by all accounts she was not a very good matador.

A good matador has to, above all, be good at killing - giving death - to the bull being fought. She was frankly terrible at it (and not alone. Many, many male matadors are similarly deficient, trying to make up for what they lack with exaggerated shows of what they'd like you to think they have).

But I digress.

Brett isn't killing men. One can argue she's "using" them. But she obviously feels a need for closeness, intimacy, from them. It's that which Jake regrets not being able to give her, the physical expression of love, the closest two people can ever be emotionally as well as physically, the "petit morte."

Yet he certainly can handle rivals, when he feels like it. The thing is, he doesn't feel threatened in his relationship by most of them, as they don't seem to truly love Brett as he does - not as a possession, or a conquest, but as a fellow human with whom he feels a connection.

I'd look more to Brett as the steer all the bulls follow around, looking for excitement, "ruination," an end to their suffering. Or Cohn, the posturing male who already has a wife but can't contain his lust for the woman all the men lust for, to the point of tears.

If you're going to do this essay, please study bullfighting. All we need in the world is more essays, like books, comparing Hemingway or other symbolism to someone's idea of something that has more layers than an onion - religious, social, mystical, occult, and nature - it's all there.

Sorry. I just read "Ferdinand the Bull" again looking at possible books for my son. It's a fine story. It just would never happen that a bull that wouldn't fight winds up happily in a pasture for the rest of its days. Anymore, I think, than one could pull a few symbols out of a hat from another culture and apply them critically to an investigation or analysis of a writer's knowledge of inherent symbolism.

Best,
hijo
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Posted: 15 November 2006 at 4:00pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Dear Opistyles: I'm not really trying to discourage you. In fact, I'm trying to do quite the opposite.

As stated earlier, I think you have a great premise for an essay of the book: that it is rife with bullfighting-related symbolism.

I'm trying to encourage you to delve into bullfighting itself, so that your essay/argument will have a solid foundation. You may find the answers to enhance your essay - is a character, or characters, in the role of matador? Are others in roles, too, such as horse, picador, sobresaliente (the one in charge of killing the bull if the matador is taken away), banderillero, spectator? Is there, in fact, a reason the book is broken into three, just as bullfights are each broken into three phases? And what of the ending? Is it an ending? Does someone or something die, or gain its life as a reward? Are expectations (that the bull will die) reversed?

On the other hand, it's not as if you really have a chance of being wrong - what critics or analysts or others see in Hemingway's books and stories, even his letters, now that he's dead, are ultimately educated guesses without any opportunity for verification from the writer himself.

Not that, apparently, he would have given anyone verification when he was alive, mind you.

Go for it. And best of luck.

Best,
hijo

Edited by hijo on 15 November 2006 at 4:05pm
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pepprmntkel
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Posted: 16 November 2006 at 1:05am | IP Logged Quote pepprmntkel

I was also thinking of Brett symbolizing a matador. I've been doing some
research on bullfighting for my paper. If Brett is the matador then Jake
might be part of her cuadrilla? Also Pedro might symbolize the indulto, or
stud bull, because he is spared? I'm not sure about this... just some
thoughts. Let me know if they're any good.

Thanks,
Kelly
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Posted: 16 November 2006 at 9:29am | IP Logged Quote Paul Hammersten

Is there any connection between  - Mithra's slaying of the bull and bull fighting and THE SUN ALSO RISE?

There are 618 ' hits ' for the search topic - " mithra + bullfighting+jesus " - on GOOGLE.

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Paul



Edited by Paul Hammersten on 16 November 2006 at 9:43am


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hijo
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Posted: 17 November 2006 at 11:56pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Ah, Paul: you read me loud and clear.

Mithra is the religion deep at the heart of bullfighting. The White bull being the most symbolic. See the paintings of U.S. bullfighter Robert Ryan...

Mithra, older than Christianity, was adopted by many Roman legionaires. Some contend the shape of Christian churches, and their meeting in catacombs, and even the date for Christmas, are derrived from Mithra rites - which included an altar at the end of an area where practitioners sat on either side of a long aisle.

Mithra creates the world by killing a bull - why does the Devil have horns?

Again, it's possible, and easier, to make characters in the novel fit some preconceived ideas about bullfighting and bullfighters - such as that the matador "leads" a bull around, dominates it, then kills it, after it's tortured, etc., etc. But it is far too overly simplistic and not that worthy of a good essay. To make such an investigation and argument hold water, one needs to learn about the subject to which the characters and actions are being compared rather than trying the "quick and easy" way of guessing.

Obviously, I personally don't see Brett as matador. Though I can't say I've tried hard to apply bullfighting to the characters or themes of the book yet.

There is a lot to bullfighting that those who've never seen it may believe about it. As an anthropologist friend once remarked, "Americans don't understand animal sacrifice." It has cultural, religious, and societical layers most casual observers never come close to understanding.

Hemingway may very well have applied his knowledge of the art (not "sport" in the American sense) of bullfighting to the structure, as well as contents, of his novel. But to well argue it, learn about bullfighting after you've read The Sun Also Rises, then go back and see what you've learned applies, and doesn't, to the argument.

The cuadrilla is a good possibility. Pedro as "indulto"? Not so sure. Maybe Jake? Maybe all of them are "indulto"? having shown their endurance - "Il faut d'abord durer"? Except for Cohn? Brett certainly shows that "even" she, who some consider a "whore," has limits, a line she won't cross - "not hurting others ... it's sort of what we have instead of God."

Doing right, being good for its own sake rather than an expected reward (an afterlife, another life). Maybe that's the code? Maybe that's the point for people who have lived through the destruction of all their previously cherished values? "Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for Tomorrow, we may die?"

And if you don't, what do you do? How do you behave?
Perhaps you look to a simpler battle, humanity versus a beast, with luck or fate or a higher power (La Virgin, Dios, or maybe Mithra) deciding at least twice a day (most matadors kill two bulls each in a corrida) who lives, and who dies?

Who eats dirt, and who gets the girl? It all depends on whose heart is purest, whose faith is strongest, whose understanding is greatest?

Best, and good luck,
hijo
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Posted: 18 November 2006 at 12:00am | IP Logged Quote hijo

Paul: consider Lady Brett as Mary Magdalene...

Best,
hijo
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