Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings...©
of Work and Year of Publication
Sun Also Rises
is a novel about the profound psychological, moral, and social changes
in people who fought in or lived through the First World War. The book
centers primarily on troubled or dysfunctional Americans and Britons living
in Paris in the postwar era. The book is a roman à
clef in that several characters are fictional representations of
real people. Charles Scribner's Sons published the novel in New York in
Hemingway first called the novel ¡Fiesta! but later changed
the title to The Sun Also Rises. Some publishers—notably in England
and Spain—still entitle the novel ¡Fiesta!
novel has two epigraphs. (An epigraph is a quotation preceding a literary
work.) They are as follows:
You are all a lost
this quotation to Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), an American writer living
in Paris when he resided there.
One generation passeth away,
and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever… The sun also
ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose…
The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth
about continually, and the wind returneth again according to its circuits…
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place
from whence the rivers come thither they return again.
Old Testament of the
Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes 1:4-7
War I (1914-1918) shocked humankind with its brutality and high number
of casualties. More than 20 million soldiers and civilians died, and more
than 20 million combatants suffered battlefield wounds.
the aftermath of the war, many people attempted to reclaim control over
their destiny by rejecting old values and establishing new ones, often
unbounded and unrestrained. They set themselves to creating new fashions
and lifestyles and to developing new modes of expression in literature
and art. And, because Paris was the cultural capital of the world, tens
of thousands of the new wave of young people, many from America, took up
residence there. But in attempting to cope with the psychological and physical
wounds of the war, some of them lost themselves in the comfort of alcohol
and aimless behavior, neglecting their work and putting their future lives
on hold. They became a "lost generation," as the first
Sun Also Rises
focuses on fictionalized versions of these lost souls. Whether they will
eventually find their way before their "generation passeth away" is a question
that the novel does not answer. What is certain, however, is that the cycles
of nature will continue ad infinitum without regard for the tribulations
of mere man. Jake Barnes and Brett Ashley will die eventually. But the
sun will rise again, and the rivers will continue to run to the sea. Human
beings can choose to believe that a rebirth awaits them—a spiritual rebirth—or
they can choose to despair, like the lost generation, and let life happen
action takes place in 1924 and 1925 in the French cities of Paris, Tours,
Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Saint Jean de Luz and in the Spanish towns of San
Sebastian, Pamplona, Burguete, and Madrid. An indirect reference to a specific
year occurs at the beginning of Chapter 9, when Jake Barnes mentions the
Ledoux-Francis boxing match of the previous evening. The actual fight took
place on June 9, 1925, at the Cirque de Paris. In this batamweight contest,
Kid Francis defeated Charles Ledoux. Hemingway (as Jake Barnes) erroneously
reports that the fight took place on June 20.
Hemingway based the novel on his own memories of World War I and on his
experiences living in Paris in the 1920s. During the war, he was an ambulance
driver in Italy. After mortar fire wounded him in July 1918, he rescued
an Italian soldier and received a medal for heroism. Hemingway decided
to live in Paris after the war in large part because so many other writers—such
as James Joyce (1882-1941), Ezra Pound (1885-1972), and Gertrude Stein
(1874-1946)—resided there. He hoped to learn from them.
Jacob (Jake) Barnes:
The narrator and main character in the novel. He is an American journalist
from Kansas City who lives and works in Paris. In the First World War,
he suffered an injury in Italy that left him sexually impotent. He loves
Lady Brett Ashley but his injury dooms his relationship with her. Like
many of his friends who served in the war, he rejects most prewar values
and traditions—moral, cultural, literary, and otherwise—to lead a new,
unencumbered life in Paris that includes plenty of booze and partying.
However, he occasionally goes to churches (Roman Catholic) to pray. Jake
is unable to escape the memories of the war, and the long shadow his injury
has cast over his ability to lead a normal life.
Lady Brett Ashley:
Beautiful Englishwoman who lives in Paris after serving as a nurse during
the war. She met Jake Barnes while he was recuperating at a hospital in
England. Although she says she loves Jake, she refuses to make any commitment
to him because of his injury. At the beginning of the novel, she is seeking
a divorce from her second husband, Baronet Ashley. Her first husband died
of dysentery during the war. She has agreed to marry Mike Campbell, a Scotsman,
after the approval of her divorce. She fancies herself a modern, independent
woman who is the equal of men. She even wears her hair short and often
refers to herself as "chap." Brett leads a promiscuous life, bedding down
with whomever she pleases.
Robert Cohn: Jewish
friend of Jake Barnes and a graduate of Princeton University, where he
was a boxing champion. Cohn, who divorced his first wife, is pursuing a
career in Paris as a writer. After enjoying success in the U.S. with his
first book, he is failing to make progress with his second. His fiancée,
who came to Paris with him, dominates him; but he eventually abandons her
to pursue Brett Ashley. Unlike Jake Barnes, Brett Ashley, and other friends
of Jake, Cohn saw no service of any kind during the war. Moreover, unlike
them, he still believes in the old prewar values and traditions—that is,
he is something of a romantic and an idealist.
Jake Barnes's friends regard
Cohn as an outsider because he is a Jew and because he did not serve in
the war as they did. They taunt him with anti-Semitic remarks.
Frances Clyne: Woman
writer who accompanies Robert Cohn to Paris. He has pledged to marry her
but later breaks up with her.
Bill Gorton: Successful
writer, war veteran, and very good friend of Jake Barnes. He drinks heavily.
Mike Campbell: Scottish
war veteran who has proposed to Brett Ashley. He is bankrupt and has no
job but is expected to receive a large inheritance. Like Gorton, he drinks
Friend of Barnes and Cohn.
Pedro Romero: Handsome
and accomplished bullfighter who outshines the competition even though
he is only nineteen. Brett Ashley seduces him.
Mrs. Braddocks: Wife
of Henry Braddocks.
A bon vivant who accompanies Brett on nightclub rounds. He owns a chain
of candy shops in the U.S. and spends his money freely, saying he has been
in seven wars and four revolutions and, therefore, has earned the right
live lavishly. He is a pleasant, easygoing fellow.
Harvey Stone: Friend
of Jake and a fellow American journalist. He's a gambler and doesn't have
enough money to eat.
Concierge where Jake rents a flat.
Prostitute with whom Jake has a few drinks.
Promising New York writer whom Jake meets in Paris.
Woolsey and Krum:
Journalist acquaintances of Jake Barnes.
Spider Kelly: Cohn's
boxing mentor at Princeton.
of Count Mippipopolous.
at the Hotel Crillon.
Madame Lavigne: Restaurateur
in the Montmartre section of Paris.
Edna: Woman who intervenes
to prevent a bar fight in Pamplona between Englishmen and Bill and Mike,
who are drunk.
war veteran whom Bill and Jake encounter in Burguete on their fishing trip.
He is good company.
Zizi: Greek portrait
painter who introduces Brett to Count Mippipopolous.
of a Pamplona hotel and, like Jake, an aficionado of bullfighting.
Juan Belmonte: Retired
bullfighter who was a legend in his time. He comes out of retirement to
demonstrate classical bullfighting skills while competing for the favor
of the crowd against Pedro Romero and other matadors, but he is no longer
what he used to be.
Bullfighter whose skills cannot measure up to those of Romero.
Marquez, Algabeno, Gallo:
Don Manuel Orquito:
"Fireworks king," who puts on a dazzling show in Pamplona.
Brother of Pedro Romero:
A banderillero. During a bullfight, a banderillero sticks small darts (banderillas)
into the neck of a bull.
Mr., Mrs. Aloysius Kirby:
People who send Jake Barnes an invitation to the wedding of their daughter,
Madame Lecomte: Proprietor
of a popular Paris restaurant.
Man killed by one of the bulls running into the bullfighting ring.
Wife and Children of
Man, Wife, Child:
Family members who meet Jake and Bill on the train to Bayonne. The child's
name is Hubert.
Breeder of bulls.
Night Watchman: Employee
of the Hotel Montoya in Pamplona.
Acquaintance of Bill Gorton. Blackman is from Chicago.
Annoying German head waiter at the Hotel Montoya in Pamplona.
Spectator at one of Romero's bullfights in Pamplona.
Tailor: Man who gives
Mike Campbell medals to wear on his suit for a dinner expected to be attended
by the Prince of Wales.
Lett: Patron of a
Paris dancing club that Jake visits.
Maid at Hotel Montana
Fat Woman at Hotel Montana
Porters, Chambermaid, Carriage and Car Drivers, Train Conductors, Bartenders
work as a news reporter for the Kansas City Star and a foreign correspondent
for the Toronto Star helped him develop his literary writing style.
It is simple and compact, with short sentences and paragraphs devoid of
unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. He deliberately omits background details
that other writers would include. For example, in The Sun Also Rises,
he presents little biographical information about the protagonist, Jake
Barnes. Was his childhood happy? Was he a good student? Does he have brothers
and sisters? Hemingway does not answer any of these questions. He does
not even reveal Jake's exact age.
of detail about characters allows readers to interpret them through dialogue
and subtext, just as they "interpret" the people around them in real life—fellow
students, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, politicians, clergymen, and
so on. However, Hemingway does provide an abundance of detail when describing
street scenes in Paris and Pamplona. Here are two examples, the first presenting
a scene in Paris and the second in Pamplona.
taxi went up the hill, passed the lighted square, then on into the dark,
still climbing, then levelled out onto a dark street behind St. Etienne
du Mont, went smoothly down the asphalt, passed the trees and the standing
bus at the Place de la Contrescarpe, then turned onto the cobbles of the
Rue Mouffetard. There were lighted bars and late open shops on each side
of the street. We were sitting apart and we jolted close together going
down the old street. Brett's hat was off. Her head was back. I saw her
face in the lights from the open shops, then it was dark, then I saw her
face clearly as we came out on the Avenue des Gobelins. The street was
torn up and men were working on the car-tracks by the light of acetylene
flares. (Chapter 4)
presents the events in the novel chronologically. As in other Hemingway
works, these events often center on activities that usually appeal to men
more than to women, such as boxing, fishing, and bullfighting.
All we could see of the procession
through the closely pressed people that crowded all the side streets and
curbs were the great giants, cigar-store Indians, thirty feet high, Moors,
a King and Queen, whirling and waltzing solemnly to the riau-riau.2
They were all standing outside the chapel where San Fermin and the dignitaries
had passed in, leaving a guard of soldiers, the giants, with the men who
danced in them standing beside their resting frames, and the dwarfs moving
with their whacking bladders through the crowd. We started inside and there
was a smell of incense and people filing back into the church, but Brett
was stopped just inside the door because she had no hat, so we went out
again and along the street that ran back from the chapel into town. The
street was lined on both sides with people keeping their place at the curb
for the return of the procession. Some dancers formed a circle around Brett
and started to dance. They wore big wreaths of white garlics around their
necks. They took Bill and me by the arms and put us in the circle. Bill
started to dance, too. They were all chanting. Brett wanted to dance but
they did not want her to. They wanted her as an image to dance around.
When the song ended with the sharp riau-riau! they rushed us into
a wine-shop. (Chapter 15)
of the hallmarks of his style is the frequent use of and as a conjunction,
as in the following passage.
winter Robert Cohn went over to America with his novel, and
it was accepted by a fairly good publisher. His going made an awful row
I heard, and I think that was where
Frances lost him, because several women were nice to him in New York, and
when he came back he was quite changed. He was more enthusiastic about
America than ever, and he was not so
simple, and he was not so nice. The
publishers had praised his novel pretty highly and
it rather went to his head. Then several women had put themselves out to
be nice to him, and his horizons had
all shifted. (Chapter 2)
Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes tells the story in first-person point of
view. Whenever Hemingway wants the reader to know about a happening at
which the narrator was not present, he has another character tell Barnes
about it. An example is Bill Gorton's recounting of the boxing match in
Vienna (Chapter 8).
Robert Cohn graduated from a military academy, his wealthy Jewish family
sent him to Princeton University, says the narrator, Jake Barnes. Cohn
was shy and friendly—a nice boy. But his pleasant personality did not prevent
the anti-Semitism he suffered during his years there. To counteract it,
he trained as a boxer under the tutelage of Spider Kelly and became middleweight
was a certain inner comfort in knowing he could knock down anybody who
was snooty to him, although . . . he never fought except in the gym,” Jake
says (Chapter 1).
Princeton, Cohn married, fathered three children, and spent most of the
money his father left him. When his marriage began to come apart, he was
about to leave his wife when she beat him to the punch and ran off with
the divorce was settled, Cohn moved to California and dipped into his remaining
inheritance to support a magazine devoted to a review of the arts. It began
in Carmel, California, but moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts. By that
time, Cohn had become its editor. In time, however, the enterprise had
drained away too much money, and he had to let it go. With a woman he began
courting, Frances Clyne, he went to Europe at her urging to continue writing.
She had gone to school in Europe. After traveling two years, they moved
to Paris. There, says Barnes, a newspaperman from Kansas City, “Cohn had
two friends, Braddocks and myself. Braddocks was his literary friend. I
was his tennis friend.”
Frances's looks began to fade, she became very possessive of Cohn and insisted
that they marry. Meanwhile, Cohn had written a book and practiced boxing
at a gymnasium. The next winter, he went to the U.S. and received a positive
response from a publisher about his book. During this time, he met several
women who treated him well, bolstering his ego. Consequently, he was not
always pleasant to be around. He also won money playing bridge and bragged
that he could make a living at the game.
there was another thing," Jake says.
He [Cohn] had been
reading W. H. Hudson. That sounds like an innocent occupation, but Cohn
had read and reread The Purple Land. The Purple Land is a
very sinister book if read too late in life. It recounts splendid imaginary
amorous adventures of a perfect English gentleman in an intensely romantic
land, the scenery of which is very well described. For a man to take it
at thirty-four as a guide-book to what life holds is about as safe as it
would be for a man of the same age to enter Wall Street direct from a French
convent, equipped with a complete set of the more practical Alger books.
In other words, Cohn was something
of a romantic, something of an idealist. He still believed in the old prewar
values that Jake and his fellow war veterans rejected.
The Main Story
Cohn returns to Paris, he becomes bored with the city and tries to get
Jake to go with him to South America. Jake says he's content where he is.
a spring night at the Café Napolitain, Barnes catches the eye of
a good-looking woman, a prostitute. She comes over and sits with him, and
they both order a Pernod (a liqueur). After they make small talk, they
go out, catch a horse-drawn cab, and travel up the Avenue de l'Opéra,
then turn into the Rue des Pyramides, then take the Rue de Rivoli to the
Tuileries Gardens. He puts his arm around her but doesn't kiss her when
she turns toward him. When she asks him whether he is sick, he says yes,
adding, “Everybody's sick” (Chapter 3).
at a restaurant where they are dining, she asks what's wrong with him.
He says he was injured in the war. At a table in another room are Cohn,
Frances, Henry Braddocks, Mrs. Braddocks, and several others Barnes does
not know. When Braddocks sees Barnes, he calls him over. Barnes and Georgette—her
last name is Hobin—join them. Shortly thereafter, they all go to a dancing
club on the Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève. Everyone dances
while the club owner plays an accordion and shakes bells attached to his
ankle. Several young men come in with a woman named Lady Brett Ashley.
Upon seeing Georgette, one of the men says, “I do declare. There is an
actual harlot. I'm going to dance with her, Lett. You watch me.”
becomes angry at the arrogance of the man. To cool off, he goes down the
street and has a beer and a cognac at another nightclub, then returns to
the dancing club. The young men are taking turns dancing with Georgette.
Barnes sits down with Cohn while Frances is dancing. Mrs. Braddocks introduces
Barnes to Robert Prentiss, a supposedly promising novelist from New York.
and Barnes go over to the bar to drink, and Brett joins them. She is beautiful
and curvaceous. Barnes chides her mildly for associating with the young
men who accompanied her into the dance club. She asks Barnes where he found
“it,” referring to Georgette. Barnes explains. When music begins, Cohn
asks her to dance, but she says she promised to dance with Barnes. When
Barnes and Brett are on the floor, Cohn watches intently. Brett asks to
go elsewhere, so they stop briefly in a bar nearby and then ride around
in a cab. Barnes kisses her, but in a moment she pulls away and tells him
not to touch her even though she is desperately in love with him. The problem
is that Jake's war injury left him impotent. Consequently, when he touches
her, he awakens her longing for him but can never fulfill it.
tells the driver to go to the Café Select on the Boulevard Montparnasse.
Inside are most of the people from the dance club. A greek portrait painter,
Zizi, introduces Brett to a fat man, Count Mippipopolous, and small talk
ensues. Braddocks calls Jake over to tell him that the girl with him earlier,
Georgette, got in a “corking row” with the café owner's daughter.
Then someone took her home. When Jake asks whether anyone has seen Cohn,
Mrs. Braddocks says he went home with Frances. She and Henry both note
that Cohn looked very down. Jake decides to leave, and Brett tells him
she will see him at 5 p.m. the next day at the Hotel Crillon.
going to bed, Jake reads a bullfight newspaper completely through. Then
he thinks back to the war and his wound and to his stay at a hospital in
Milan, where a liaison colonel told him, "You, a foreigner . . . have given
more than your life."
he falls asleep, it isn't long before Jake reawakens to noise outside.
It is Brett, drunk, trying to get into the apartment building. When Jake
goes out and vouches for her, the concierge lets her in. She was out with
the Count Mippipopolous and says he offered her ten thousand dollars if
she would go with him to the resort town of Biarritz. Instead, she had
him take her to Jake's place. The count was nice about it, she says, and
invited her and Jake to have dinner with him the following night. Jake
agrees to go.
next day, after attending a press conference, Jake goes to lunch with Cohn.
When Cohn asks him about Brett, Jake tells him that she's about to divorce
her present husband to marry a Scotsman, Mike Campbell. Noting that she
is exceptionally attractive, Cohn says, “ I shouldn't wonder if I were
in love with her.” Jake says she's a drunk and that she will, in fact,
marry Campbell, who is expected to receive a handsome inheritance. Jake
says he met Brett, now thirty-four, at a hospital in England, where he
was recuperating from his war wound. She was married to a baronet named
Ashley. Her first husband died of dysentery during the war.
five that afternoon, Jake goes to the Hotel Crillon, where Brett had said
she would meet him. He writes a few letters while he waits, but she doesn't
appear. Then he goes to the Select in Montparnasse. There, he runs into
Harvey Stone, another American journalist. The latter tells Jake he's out
of money and hasn't eaten in days, so Jake lends him a hundred dollars.
Cohn appears—he is is to meet Frances at 7:15—and Stone goes up the street
to eat. When Jake asks Cohn how his second book is coming along, Cohn says
he's having a hard time with it. Jake notices that his arrogance—born of
the success of his first book—has evaporated. Now he is less sure of himself
again. Frances arrives and scolds Robert for not showing up for lunch.
He says he wasn't supposed to, but she counters that he failed to tell
the cook. Frances then says she wants to speak with Jake alone, so they
cross the street and sit at a table while Cohn waits for them. She tells
Jake that Robert previously told everyone that he and she agreed to marry.
Now, however, he has decided to break up with her, saying he has not yet
lived enough. She could have had her pick of men a few years before, she
says, but no one will want her now. Besides she says, “I'm fond of him
. . . And I'd like to have children” (Chapter 6).
Jake returns to his flat, the concierge, Madame Duzinell, gives him his
mail and a telegram, then says a woman and a man came looking for him when
he was out. They fit the description of Brett and the count. In his flat,
Jake reads the telegram. It is from his friend Bill Gorton, who is coming
to Paris. After taking a shower, he answers the doorbell. It is Brett and
Count Mippipopolous. While Jake dresses, Brett sends the count out for
champagne so that she and Jake can talk privately. Barnes asks, “Couldn't
we live together, Brett? Couldn't we just live together?” (Chapter 7).
says no. She would have to leave him frequently to be with other men, for
she does wish to remain celibate. They both vow their love for each other,
but they both know they can never have conjugal relations. She then reveals
that she is going the next day to San Sebastian, Spain. The count returns.
His chauffeur, Henry, follows him in with a basket of champagne. After
they have a drink, Brett asks for another. The count readily pours it for
her, saying she is more charming when she is drunk. .......Brett
asks the count what he has done with his life. He replies, "I have been
in seven wars and four revolutions" (Chapter 7). Moreover, he has suffered
arrow wounds. She asks to see them, and he rises, opens his shirt, and
displays wounds from fighting in Abyssinia. He says that his harrowing
experiences have earned him the right to enjoy life to the fullest. The
three of them then go out and dine at a restaurant. Afterward, they go
to Zelli's, a nightclub in Montmartre, where Jake dances with Brett. When
Brett and Jake decide to leave, the count says he wants to stay. But he
gives them the use of his car. The chauffeur drops off Brett and takes
Brett is in Spain, Frances Clyne returns to England. Jake receives a note
from Cohn, who is on a trip outside France. He reminds Jake about a fishing
trip they had planned to take in Spain and wants to go ahead with it in
the near future. Meanwhile, Bill Gorton arrives and stays a few days at
Jake's flat. “Bill was very happy,” Jake says. “He had made a lot of money
on his last book, and was going to make a lot more” (Chapter 8). Gorton
then goes to Vienna and Budapest and returns to Paris three weeks later.
He and Jake run into Brett just after she returns from San Sebastian, and
they have drinks together and meet again later at the Select Bar after
Michael Campbell arrives from Scotland. Later, when Jake walks Brett to
her hotel, she reveals that she was in San Sebastian with Robert Cohn.
Jake says (Chapter 9).
says Cohn behaved well but can be boring.
and Jake then go to a bantamweight boxing match between
Charles Ledoux and Kid Francis.3
The next morning Jake receives a letter from Cohn saying he is eager to
start on the fishing trip. Jake writes back that he and Bill will leave
Paris on June 25 and meet him in Bayonne. From there, they will travel
to Pamplona, Spain, then go on their fishing trip. Afterward, they will
attend the Fiesta of San Fermín4
in Pamplona and go to bullfights. Later, when Jake sees Brett and Mike
Campbell, they ask to tag along. He welcomes their company. All are to
meet at the Hotel Montoya in Pamplona.
Jake, Cohn, and Gorton arrive in Pamplona, they check into the Montoya.
Jake receives a telegram from Brett and Campbell saying they stopped over
at San Sebastian. When Gorton and Barnes leave for their fishing trip the
next day, Cohn decides to stay behind. Bill is glad, for he and Cohn do
not get along. He tells Jake, “He makes me sick, and he can go to hell,
and I'm damn glad he's staying here so we won't have him fishing with us”
go to a small town called Burguete and enjoy several days of fishing and
playing bridge with an Englishman named Wilson-Harris. While in Burguete,
Jake receives a letter from Campbell saying he and Brett have arrived in
Pamplona. After the fishing trip, Jake and Gorton check back into the Montoya,
which is named after the owner. Montoya tells Barnes that Brett and Campbell
have checked in but went out to go to a pelota5
match. Aware that Jake is a bullfighting aficionado, like himself, Montoya
tells him that bulls will be unloaded that evening, beginning at 7 p.m.,
for the fights that will be part of the Pamplona festival. After tracking
down Brett, Campbell, and Cohn, they all go to see the bulls. When the
bulls are unloaded into a corral, steers are there to calm them down. When
one bull enters the corral, it charges two steers.
God, isn't he beautiful?" Brett says.
how he knows how to use his horns," Jake says. "He's got a left and a right
just like a boxer" (Chapter 13).
they all stop at a café. When they discuss what they saw, Cohn says,
“It's no life being a steer.” (Chapter 13).
that Cohn has been following Brett around—says, “Don't you think so? I
would have thought you'd loved being a steer.”
becomes angry and Brett says, "Come off it, Michael. You're drunk."
not drunk. I'm quite serious. Is Robert Cohn going to follow Brett around
like a steer all the time?" (Chapter 13).
days later, the fiesta begins. Drinks flow. People dance. And at the inaugural
bullfighting competition, a nineteen-year-old named Pedro Romero shows
real class compared with two competing matadors. Brett is fascinated by
next day, when Bret sits between Campbell and Barnes, Romero again puts
on a spectacular show. Jake explains the subtlety of his moves to Brett.
I told her how since
the death of Joselito6
all the bull-fighters had been developing a technique that simulated this
appearance of danger in order to give a fake emotional feeling, while the
bull-fighter was really safe. Romero had the old thing, the holding of
his purity of line through the maximum of exposure, while he dominated
the bull by making him realize he was unattainable, while he prepared him
for the killing. (Chapter 15)
never seen him do an awkward thing," Brett observes.
is no fighting the next day. After Jakes takes a walk in the morning, he
returns to the hotel, finds “the gang” in the dining room, and sit downs
and has some red wine. At the next table is Romero. When Jake nods hello,
Romero invites him to his table. With him is a Madrid bullfight critic,
and Romero introduces him to Jake. When Jake compliments Romero on his
bullfighting, the matador says, “"I like it very much that you like my
work. But you haven't seen it yet. To-morrow, if I get a good bull, I will
try and show it to you."
calls over to Jake and asks for an introduction to Romero. Jake invites
Romero and the critic to have coffee with the others and makes the introductions.
They all move to a larger table with more chairs. Brett sits next to Romero
and begins talking to him. Mike, who is drunk, says, “Tell him Brett wants
to see him put on those green pants.”
Romero leaves, Brett comments on his extraordinary good looks and says,
“And how I would love to see him get into those clothes. He must use a
then starts in on Cohn.
you think you amount to something, Cohn? Do you think you belong here among
us? People who are out to have a good time? For God's sake don't be so
cut it out, Mike," Cohn says.
you think Brett wants you here? Do you think you add to the party? Why
don't you say something?" (Chapter 16)
a fight breaks out, Jake takes Mike, stumbling, away from the table and
goes to a café. Gorton and Brett go with them. Brett eventually
asks Jake to help her locate Romero, which he does, and she ends up in
bed with the young matador.
Bill and Mike—drunk as usual—cause a ruckus in the Bar Milano. When police
are called to the scene, they eject Bill and Mike just as Jake arrives.
With them is a woman, Edna, whom Mike and Bill befriended. She tells Jake
that she "kept them out of four fights" (Chapter 17). At Jake's suggestion,
they go to another bar, the Café Suizo. There, they encounter Cohn.
Addressing Jake, Cohn demands to know where Brett is. Jake, aware that
she is with Romero, says he does not know. .......Cohn
says, "The hell you don't." When Cohn presses Jake further, Mike says,
"Brett's gone off with the bullfighter chap. They're on their honeymoon"
Cohn calls Jake a "damned
pimp" (Chapter 17). Jake swings at Cohn. Cohn knocks him to the pavement.
When he tries to get up, Cohn hits him two more times. He also knocks down
Mike. Later, in the hotel, Bill tells Jake that Cohn is "in bad shape"
(Chapter 17). When Jake goes into Cohn's room to see him, the latter is
lying on the bed, crying. He apologizes and asks Jake to forgive him. He
says he is leaving town. Jake is reluctant at first to accept the apology.
But when Cohn repeats his plea, Jake forgives him.
following day, Jake learns that Cohn also attacked Romero when he found
him with Brett. But whenever he knocked Romero down, the young matador
got up. Again and again Cohn struck him. But he could not knock him unconscious.
Finally, Cohn stopped. The bullfighter was a bloody mess. But he punched
Cohn in the face and sat down, telling Cohn he would kill him if he did
not leave town.
the afternoon bullfight, in which Romero again distinguishes himself, the
matador runs off with Brett to Madrid.
day after the fiesta ends, Jake, Mike, and Bill leave Pamplona by car and
cross the border into France. They stop at the resort town of Biarritz
for drinks. Afterward, they move on. Mike gets out at Saint Jean de Luz,
where he can live on credit for a while, and Bill gets out at Bayonne.
From there, he will be taking a train back to Paris, then shipping out
for his return trip to the United States. After spending the night in Bayonne,
Jake takes a train back into Spain—to San Sebastian—for the last week of
his vacation. He sends telegrams to the Hotel Montoya and his Paris office
asking that messages for him should be forwarded to his San Sebastian address.
The next day he receives a telegram from Brett saying she is "rather in
trouble" (Chapter 19) and asking him to come to the Hotel Montana in Madrid.
He sends a return message saying his will take an express train to Madrid
and arrive the following day.
The next morning, a maid
escorts Jake to Brett's room. Brett tells him she sent Romero away the
previous day. "He shouldn't be living with any one," she says. "I realized
that right away. . . . . I'm thirty-four, you know. I'm not going to be
one of these bitches that ruins children. . . . . You know it makes one
feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch. . . . . It's sort of what
we have instead of God."
people have God," Jake says. "Quite a lot."
their way out of the city, Brett laments that they could have had a good
life together if things had been different.
Jake says. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
climax occurs when Robert Cohn adopts the attitude of Jake Barnes and others
of the lost generation. Cohn, of course, is not the main character. But
his rejection by Brett—whom he foolishly thought would respond to his quixotic
ideals—devastates him in the same way that the war devastated Jake and
his fellow veterans. His disillusionment supports the Jake Barnes view
of the world that life is an umbra of defeat that follows the vanquished
everywhere. The climactic moment comes in the following passage.
Cohn: "I guess it
isn't any use," he said. "I guess it isn't any damn use."
main conflict is the effort of Jake Barnes, Brett Ashley, Bill Gorton,
and Mike Campbell—to cope with the memories, impact, and aftermath of World
War I. In the case of Jake Barnes, this conflict manifests itself in the
friction in his relationship with Brett Ashley. A secondary conflict pits
Robert Cohn against anyone seeking the attentions of Brett Ashley.
The Crippling Effects
of World War I
war injury renders Jake Barnes impotent. He deeply loves Brett Ashley,
and she says she loves him. But because of his injury, he can never consummate
a sexual act. Consequently, Brett refuses to marry him, saying she will
not live with a man who is incapable of fully expressing his love for her.
Moreover, while seeing him, she also sees other men, becoming intimate
with them. Jake stoically accepts his fate and does not outwardly object
to Brett's liaisons. His injury is a metaphor and symbol for all the men
who came home from the war physically, psychologically, and/or morally
Ashley, Mike Campbell, and Robert Cohn tend to live from day to day without
long-range goals. Mike and Brett go from from bar to bar or country to
country, separately or with each other, to lose themselves. Mike has no
job. Instead, he relies on the promise he will eventually receive an inheritance.
Cohn invests in a magazine and becomes its editor. After it fails, he goes
to Paris with the woman he believes he loves, Frances Clyne. Then he wants
to go to South America, but drops this plan—and Frances—after meeting Brett.
He has a liaison with her in San Sebastian and then follows her to Pamplona,
but she drops him after becoming enamored of bullfighter Pedro Romero.
Meanwhile, Cohn fails to advance his career as a novelist. However, he
does succeed at one thing: bringing out the worst in Campbell, Gorton,
and others, who frequently ridicule him.
for Barnes, he has a job that he works at, although he tends to lose himself—and
his thoughts of Brett—in bar-hopping and traveling.
Brett, Mike Campbell, and Bill Gorton are little more than lumps of inertia.
The more they drink and the more they travel, the more they remain the
same. At the end of the novel—after the last bull dies and the fiesta ends—they
return to the same life they were leading at the beginning of the novel.
Nothing has changed.
Escape Into Alcohol
Barnes, Bill Gorton, and Mike Campbell drink often—Gorton and Campbell
excessively. Drinking enables them to escape the memories of the war while
providing each an opportunity to fraternize with his former comrades in
arms. Brett also imbibes freely, partly to anesthetize herself against
the pain of loving an impotent man, partly to make connections with other
men, partly to assert her equality with males, and partly to escape her
Ashley makes a religion of promiscuity and infidelity. She carouses with
Count Mippipopolous, pledges to marry Mike Campbell, trysts with Robert
Cohn, and seduces Pedro Romero.
she is seeking the fulfillment that her real love, Jakes Barnes, cannot
provide and that her first two loveless marriages did not give her. Ironically,
her descent into lust makes her just as dysfunctional as Barnes, for lust
is not love. It leaves its victims empty.
and critics often cite Brett as an example of the new, liberated female
of the postwar era. True, Brett acts the part. Like many men, she smokes,
drinks excessively, and plays around; she even wears a boyish hairstyle
and a man's felt hat. And she has no fear of speaking her mind. But this
“liberated” woman is really a prisoner—a prisoner of her carnality. For
example, after she sees the handsome young Pedro Romero performing, she
has the following conversation with Jake.
"I'm a goner. I'm
mad about the Romero boy. I'm in love with him, I think."
"I wouldn't be if I were
"I can't help it. I'm a
goner. It's tearing me all up inside."
"Don't do it."
"I can't help it. I've never
been able to help anything."
"You ought to stop it."
"How can I stop it? I can't
stop things. Feel that?"
Her hand was trembling.
"I'm like that all through."
Cohn is not a World War I veteran, like Jake, Bill, and Mike. But he is
a veteran of his own war against anti-Semitism, which he first encountered
at Princeton. There, he took up boxing “to counteract the feeling of inferiority
and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton,” Barnes
says. His Jewishness isolates him from Jake, Bill, and Mike and provokes
bigoted remarks and observations. For example, when Cohn insists on going
to South America, Jake observes to himself, “He had a hard, Jewish, stubborn
streak.” After Brett's encounter with Cohn in San Sebastian, Mike tells
Jake, “Brett's gone off with men. But they weren't ever Jews, and they
didn't come and hang about afterward." Before attending the bullfights
at Pamplona, Bill says, “That Cohn gets me. He's got this Jewish superiority
so strong that he thinks the only emotion he'll get out of the fight will
be being bored." But the anti-Semitism is not limited to the men. Brett
tells Jake, “Oh, darling, don't be difficult. What do you think it's meant
to have that damned Jew about . . . ?
Barnes and Bill Gorton both use the word nigger to refer to blacks.
For example, in describing a bar scene, Jake writes, "Inside Zelli's it
was crowded, smoky, and noisy. The music hit you as you went in. Brett
and I danced. It was so crowded we could barely move. The nigger drummer
waved at Brett. We were caught in the jam, dancing in one place in front
of him. In discussing a boxing match, Gorton says, "Remember something
about a prizefight. Enormous Vienna prize-fight. Had a nigger in it. Remember
the nigger perfectly."
Jake and Bill do not deride blacks—in fact, Bill compliments the black
fighter as an "[a]wfully noble-looking nigger"—their use of the term nigger
nonetheless reflects the attitude of the times: that blacks were inferior.
Gorton's phrase suggests that he thinks it is unusual for a black to look
dignified and admirable.
the three Fates in Greek mythology, the war, the environment,
and heredity all seem to have conspired against Jake Barnes and Brett Ashley
At least that is what they appear to think.
Jake is not a complainer, he does think often about his bad luck, as in
this passage: "Undressing, I looked at myself in the mirror of the big
armoire beside the bed. Of all the ways to be wounded." In the Italian
hospital where he was recuperating, an Italian liaison colonel told him,
"Che mala fortuna! Che mala fortuna!"
what appears to be good luck for Jake is actually bad luck. As Jake notes,
"Probably I never would have had any trouble if I hadn't run into Brett
when they shipped me to England."
also seems under the control of a force, as the following dialogue reveals.
"I'm a goner. I'm
mad about the Romero boy. I'm in love with him, I think."
as a Roman à Clef
"I wouldn't be if I were
"I can't help it. I'm a
goner. It's tearing me all up inside."
"Don't do it."
"I can't help it. I've never
been able to help anything."
Sun also Rises
is a roman à clef (French for novel with a key),
which bases some or all of its fictional characters on real persons. Such
a novel allows its author to satirize a person or reveal scandalous details
about him or her while minimizing the likelihood of a libel suit. It also
enables an author to fictionalize some aspects of real person's life. Following
are the names of fictional characters in The Sun Also Rises and
their real-life counterparts.
Lady Brett Ashley:
Lady Twysden Duff (1893-1938), British divorcée who attracted the
attention of Hemingway in Paris but had a romantic encounter with Harold
Baronet Ashley: Sir
Roger Thomas Twysden (1894-1934), a British naval officer and second husband
of Lady Twysden Duff. Sir Roger and Lady Twysden divorced in 1926.
Robert Cohn: Novelist
Harold Loeb (1891-1974), a Princeton Graduate and veteran of World War
Glenway Wescott (1901-1987), an American novelist who lived in Paris in
Harvey Stone: Harold
Stearns (1891-1943), American essayist and critic famous for his drinking
Pedro Romero: Cayetono
Ordóñez (1904-1961), celebrated bullfighter.
Mike Campbell: Pat
Guthrie, a patron of Le Dingo in Paris in the 1920s.
Frances Clyne: Kathleen
Eaton Cannell (1891-1974), American writer who was a paramour of Harold
Loeb (represented in the novel by Robert Cohn).
Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939), novelist, critic, editor, and publisher.
Following are definitions
of bullfighting terms used in the novel.
el banderillero: Man
who weakens a bull for the bullfighter by lodging barbed sticks, or darts,
in the neck of the bull.
la banderilla: Barbed
stick that the banderillero lodges in the neck of a bull.
la barrera: Barrier
around a bullfighting arena.
la cogida: A goring.
la cornada: A goring.
la corrida: A dash;
la corrida de toros:
el encierro: Corral;
la lidia: Bullfighting.
el matador: Top bullfighter;
la muleta: Red cape
draped from a wooden rod. The bullfighter taunts the bull by waving the
muleta in front of it.
el picador: Horseman
who pricks the neck of a bull with a lance during a bullfight.
el torero: Bullfighter
or another participant in a bullfight, such as a picador or a banderillero
Maneuver in which a bullfighter holds out his red cape, allowing a bull
to charge it, then pivots and sweeps the cape over the bull's head.
Bull: (1) Life:
You can conquer the bull or let it run over you. (2) Masculinity:
The bull's piercing horns are phallic symbols. But Pedro Romero kills several
bulls, just as Brett Ashley kills the hopes of men who pursue her.
See Main Theme.
Campbell's bankruptcy—and the apparent impoverishment of Harvey Stone—symbolize
the moral and spiritual bankruptcy and impoverishment of the Lost Generation.
German waiter: The
annoying maître d'hôtel at the hotel in Pamplona represents
image of postwar Germany, as the following exchange between Jake and Bill
Jake: "I won't eat
down-stairs with that German head waiter. He was damned snotty when I was
getting Mike up-stairs."
Bill: "He was snotty to
Running of the Bulls
running of the bulls at the festival of San Fermín in Pamplona,
Spain, is the most famous event of its kind. (Similar events take place
in Portugal and Mexico, as well as in other Spanish cities.) The festival
is held annually July 6 to 14. On the morning of July 7, keepers release
bulls scheduled for fights. The bulls then run through city streets on
a route leading to the bullfighting arena. Side streets are barricaded.
Men aged 18 or older run just ahead of them in the narrow streets a display
of bravado. Many of them suffer injuries, occasionally a fatal one. The
bulls run again on each day of the bullfighting competition. In The
Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes describes the scene from a balcony.
When I woke it was
the sound of the rocket exploding that announced the release of the bulls
from the corrals at the edge of town. They would race through the streets
and out to the bull-ring. I had been sleeping heavily and I woke feeling
I was too late. I put on a coat of Cohn's and went out on the balcony.
Down below the narrow street was empty. All the balconies were crowded
with people. Suddenly a crowd came down the street. They were all running,
packed close together. They passed along and up the street toward the bullring
and behind them came more men running faster, and then some stragglers
who were really running. Behind them was a little bare space, and then
the bulls galloping, tossing their heads up and down. It all went out of
sight around the corner. One man fell, rolled to the gutter, and lay quiet.
But the bulls went right on and did not notice him. They were all running
together. After they went out of sight a great roar came from the bullring.
It kept on. Then finally the pop of the rocket that meant the bulls had
gotten through the people in the ring and into the corrals.
A dance through the streets of Pamplona, from city hall to the chapel of
San Fermín, on July 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m. A band plays a waltz.
. . . says: Although Hemingway attributed the quotation to Gertrude
Stein, she reportedly said it originated with the owner of an auto-repair
shop, a Monsieur Pernollet. He used the phrase une génération
perdue (a lost generation) in referring to the young men who
had fought in the First World War, inasmuch as they had missed their formative
. . . Francis: Kid Francis defeated Charles Ledoux on June 9, 1925,
at the Cirque de Paris. Hemingway (as Jake Barnes) says the fight took
place on June 20.
Fermín: Saint Fermín, a Roman Catholic bishop who was
martyred circa AD 302.
Two-man game resembling handball in which each player uses a curved wicker
basket to retrieve a ball bounced from a wall and hurl it back against
the wall. The game is similar to jai alai.
(1895-1920): José Gómez Ortega, a celebrated matador
who died in a bullfight when he was only twenty-five.
In Greek mythology, they were three goddesses—Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis—who
controlled the destiny of each human.
Miller Hemingway (1899-1961) was an American writer of novels and short
stories. Before turning to fiction, he worked as a reporter for the Kansas
City Star and served as a First World War ambulance driver. Then he
enlisted with the Italian infantry and suffered a wound. After the war,
he worked for the Toronto Star and lived for a time in Paris and
Key West, Fla. During the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War, he
served as a newspaper correspondent, then lived in Cuba until 1958 and
Idaho until 1961, the year of his death by suicide.
narratives frequently contain masculine motifs, such as bull-fighting (Death
in the Afternoon), hunting (The
Green Hills of Africa), war (A
Farewell to Arms, For
Whom the Bell Tolls), and fishing (The
Old Man and the Sea). All of these motifs derive from Hemingway’s
own experiences as a traveler, a soldier, and an adventurer. Arguably,
he was a better short-story writer than a novelist, although it was his
longer works that built his reputation.
Questions and Writing Topics
Who is the most admirable character
in the novel. Who is the least admirable?
Robert Cohn is a skilled amateur
boxer. Pedro Romero is skilled professional matator—and a very young and
handsome one. Jake Barnes is a somewhat sedentary war veteran who was rendered
impotent by mortar fire. But is he less of a man than Cohn or Romero? Explain
Was Jake Barnes a mouthpiece
for Hemingway's feelings and ideas? Explain your answer.
Write an informative essay that
explains Hemingway's "iceberg theory," which guided his literary style.
You will need to conduct library and Internet research to marshal the information
you need. For an introduction to the iceberg theory, click
Write an informative essay centering
on Paris as a cultural center in the 1920s.