The Sun Also Rises
Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"When I think of the hell I’ve put chaps through. I’m paying for it all now."
"Don’t talk like a fool," I said. "Besides, what happened to me is supposed to be funny. I never think about it."
"Oh, no. I’ll lay you don’t."
"Well, let’s shut up about it."
"I laughed about it too, myself, once." She wasn’t looking at me. "A friend of my brother’s came home that way from Mons. It seemed like a hell of a joke. Chaps never know anything, do they?"
"No," I said. "Nobody ever knows anything." (4.4)
Brett sees Jake’s ordeal as a punishment for her own mistreatment of men (rather a selfish way of approaching it). She admits that even she has laughed about a similar situation before it affected her directly – emasculated men are "supposed" to be comic figures, rather than tragic ones.
My head started to work. The old grievance. Well, it was a rotten way to be wounded and flying on a joke front like the Italian. In the Italian hospital we were going to form a society. It had a funny name in Italian. I wonder what became of the others, the Italians. That was in the Ospedale Maggiore in Milano, Padiglione Ponte. The next building was the Padiglione Zonda. There was a statue of Ponte, or maybe it was Zonda. That was where the liaison colonel came to visit me. That was funny. That was about the first funny thing. I was all bandaged up. But they had told him about it. Then he made that wonderful speech: "You, a foreigner, an Englishman" (any foreigner was an Englishman) "have given more than your life." What a speech! I would like to have it illuminated to hang in the office. He never laughed. He was putting himself in my place, I guess. "Che mala fortuna! Che mala fortuna!" (4.78)
Jake’s impotence is apparently worse than death, if we are to believe the very serious Italian colonel. This says a lot about the expectations of men at the time; even though Jake presents this humorously, it’s clearly disturbing to him.
Cohn smiled again and sat down. He seemed glad to sit down. What the hell would he have done if he hadn’t sat down? "You say such damned insulting things, Jake." "I’m sorry. I’ve got a nasty tongue. I never mean it when I say nasty things."
"I know it," Cohn said. "You’re really about the best friend I have, Jake."
God help you, I thought. (5.10)
Cohn’s guileless admission of friendship sets the scene for a man-to-man moment of honest affection – but instead, we (like Jake) just feel embarrassed that Cohn has put himself out there.