American Lit 7
The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises are
perfect representations of The Lost Generation in American Literature. The authors define the
culture of the 1920s through the characters and their actions. Although they are both very
different stories, both of these novels follow the lives of groups of friends after World War I.
Therefore, they share a lot of the same themes including dissatisfaction, sexuality, and the
influence of alcohol.
The Lost Generation refers a group of writers and artists who left the United States to live
and work in Paris and other parts of Europe during World War I and the Great Depression. It is
also used to refer to the post World War I generation. Some of the authors included in this group
were F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and T.S. Eliot. The term “The Lost Generation”
came from something Gertrude Stein said to Hemingway which he later used as an epigraph to
his novel The Sun Also Rises. This generation was called “lost” because of the major impact that
World War I had on them. Many men in battle were deeply affected by the horrors of the war.
Even just growing up and living through the war had impact on people. This caused them to lose
their values, drive, and purpose in life. A common theme in Lost Generation Literature is
decadence. This refers to the overconsumption of alcohol and sexuality caused by the First
World War. Some examples of these are Gatsby’s huge parties or the aimless traveling and
drinking in The Sun Also Rises. The writers of the Lost Generation “revealed the sordid nature of
the shallow, frivolous lives of the young and independently wealthy in the aftermath of the war”.
The major theme of dissatisfaction in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is present in many
characters. Jay Gatsby worked for many years to be rich so that he can accomplish his one goal,
to be with Daisy Buchanan again. He built up Daisy to be so perfect that it was hard for her to
live up to those expectations. Therefore, causing Gatsby to be dissatisfied with Daisy and his life.
Tom Buchanan comes from a lot of wealth. He spends most of his days doing whatever he
pleases. He has a beautiful wife and a baby daughter and still feels the need to have an affair with
his mistress, Myrtle. Similar to Tom, Jordan Baker lives wealthy, bored, and carelessly. She
doesn’t work and pretty much spends her time playing golf and partying. She admits to being
careless and then goes on to say,...