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The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Voyage and Return

The Sun Also Rises is a somewhat untraditional narrative. Only a few pages into the first chapter, the book’s conclusion is revealed: Jake and Brett cannot end up together. The book is propelled much less by plot than character development. For these reasons, we have found it difficult to classify the novel into one of the seven basic plots of literature; however, it seems to come closest to the "Voyage and Return" plot.

Anticipation Stage and ‘fall’ into the other world

Jake and Bill travel to the Irati River and Pamplona.

Okay… so Jake doesn’t really ‘fall" into an entirely new world in an Alice in Wonderland sense, but he does take a trip which introduces a fairly dramatic change of scenery. He doesn’t feel that the trip will change him or make him happy in the way that Cohn does, but nonetheless he welcomes it. He hopes that getting away from Paris will be good for everyone. Little does he know what’s coming…

Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

At first, the trip is idyllic.

Jake and Bill find escape and relief fishing on the Irati River. We see their common bond with nature, and witness their genuine friendship. Unfortunately, change is coming – they are aware that the experience will come to an end when they go to Pamplona to meet the rest of the gang.

Frustration Stage

Cohn’s proprietary attitude towards Brett disturbs everyone – including Brett.

What had been a relaxing vacation is complicated by the myriad of complicated relationships between Brett and the central male characters. Mike, Bill, and Jake are sick of Cohn’s superior attitude with regards to Brett. Tensions build as the fiesta explodes into drunken being.

Nightmare Stage

Irritation with Cohn turns explosive.

Mike finally lashes out, distraught by Brett’s affairs with Cohn and Romero. Cohn, desperate, angry, and pathetic, beats up Jake, Mike, and Romero. Everyone is exhausted and ready to get away from each other. Cohn departs in shame, and Brett absconds with Romero. Mike, Bill, and Jake are left alone in Pamplona.

Thrilling escape and return

Jake leaves Pamplona.

Here’s where the voyage and return analysis gets a little fuzzy. While Jake does leave Pamplona for San Sebastian, it’s hardly an escape. Though he has a couple of days on his own to try and process the catastrophes of the trip, within days he’s drawn back into Brett’s destructive orbit, and he goes to meet her in Madrid. Nevertheless, his voyage has changed him – he is even more disillusioned than he was when the voyage began.

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