The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway illustrates the aimlessness of life that all the characters feel, (except for Robert Cohn), after being in the Great War. The novel is narrated by the protagonist, Jake Barnes, and it is through him that the other characters' personalities are revealed. His love interest is Lady Brett Ashley who goes from man to man, never satisfied in her relationships. Jake and Brett had tried to make it work, but because his war injury left him impotent, Brett doesn't stay with him. However, she constantly returns to him, usually when she is feeling miserable. Jake is the only one she confides in. Robert Cohn, who is similar in character to Jake, is shunned by all the characters of the novel. He falls in love with Brett based on her appearance and she has a brief fling with him but then she regrets it, especially when Robert follows her around like a stalker.
Brett is a very interesting character with gender blending. She feels nothing restricting her from being or doing things considered masculine. Although many of The Sun Also Rises's characters call Brett "Lady Ashley", 'Brett' is her own name. The first name 'Brett' is gender neutral so right from the start, she is not dominated by a single gender. This also applies to her vocabulary. Brett repeatedly refers to herself as a man: "I say, give a chap a brandy and soda," instead of appropriating the word to a feminine version, for instance, 'chapess' or 'chapette'. Despite Jake's intense feelings for Brett, he does not stop her from having various relationships, whether sexual or otherwise, and wonders if she enjoys all the attention, "I suppose you like to add them up," to which she confirms by asking, "What if I do?". The language used here is usually asked by the woman saying it to the man. It is commonly men who have many romantic and sexual relationships with women, the so-called 'womanizers', but when woman take on this role, they are 'loose' or 'promiscuous'. Also, throughout the novel, Brett repeatedly remarks that "[she] must bathe," because she feels dirty from the surplus of alcohol and love affairs she has allowed herself to consume.
I have only read two of Hemingway's novels, this one and "A Moveable Feast" and I love both. I like the way he tells a story from a journalistic view; it allows the reader to analyze the psychology behind a character's actions and words.