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When discussing Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926), scholars often criticize Lady Brett Ashley as a “bitch-goddess,” “a perversion of femininity” and a “nymphomaniac,” marginalizing her and ignoring Hemingway’s hints at her harrowing past. Leslie Fiedler and Carlos Baker use Brett’s sexual promiscuity and detachment as ways to support their misogynistic readings, but they do not consider trauma to account for Brett’s behavior. To address this gap, I parse Brett’s trauma, specifically her marriage to a war veteran, whom readers know only as the “chap she got the title from” (Hemingway 207). Recently, in an attempt to salvage Brett’s infamous reputation, Charles J. Nolan Jr. diagnosed Brett with “borderline personality disorder” (113). More accurately, I believe Brett is trying to reconfigure her identity after experiencing trauma. A survivor of rape and attempted murder herself, feminist Susan J. Brison outlines a victim’s difficulty to live after a traumatic incident occurs: “Not only are one’s memories of an earlier life lost, along with the ability to envision a future, but one’s basic cognitive and emotional capacities are gone, or radically altered, as well. This epistemological crisis leaves the survivor with virtually no bearings by which to navigate” (146). Witnessing the effects of World War I and living with an abusive husband, Brett loses herself and she must adapt afterward. Accordingly, she develops androgynous characteristics in order to salvage the identity she has lost because of domestic violence and subsequent hardships.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • History, Anthropology, & Philosophy

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3218

  • Event date
    • 25 March 2016

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Cameron Williams