Ernest Hemingway's novel, The Sun Also Rises, follows Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley through their adventures from Paris, France to Pamplona, Spain for the annual bull-running festival. Hemingway writes of the Lost Generation during post-World War I life. This is a time where parties were bigger, morals were looser, and alcohol was cheaper. Jake, Brett, and their companions take on the fiestas throughout the novel, while Hemingway carefully uses symbolism to relate their actions to the morals of the Lost Generation. An analysis of symbolism that Hemingway uses in The Sun Also Rises reveals the depth of the novel, while expressing the age of bankruptcy, illusions, and unrealized love.
Throughout the majority of Book II, Jake and his companions parade through Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls. The bulls and the act of bull-fighting are very symbolic to the Lost Generation. Bulls represent passion, freedom, and energy. Bull-fighting represents seduction, sex, and manipulation. Jake, Brett, Romero, and Montoya all like bull-fighting. This is meant to symbolize that these individuals are capable of passion and sex. Hemingway uses Cohn as a prime example of someone who does not like bull-fighting. He writes, "Why do you follow Brett around like a bloody steer? Don't you know you're not wanted," and later following up with, "He hung around Brett and just looked at her. It made me damned well sick," to show that since Cohn does not like the fighting, he is not able to have sex, and therefore will never win Brett over (Hemingway 146-147). The ability that Romero has to bull-fight naturally makes him have the ability to have sex, and which is why Brett runs off with him at the end of chapter seventeen. To Montoya, the hotel owner, Jake is thought to be as an 'aficionado,' and is one that has passion, but does not necessarily have sex, as Hemingway writes, "But he's not aficionado like you are.