The fiesta explodes at noontime on Sunday, July 6. The peasants drink wine from wine-shops, as they cannot yet afford café prices. Some people are at mass, as San Fermin is also a religious festival. Jake meets Cohn and Bill at the café. Rockets shoot up to announce the fiesta. Pipers and drummers play music as men and boys dance behind them. A man playing a reed-pipe leads children down the street. Dancing men bear a banner that reads "'Hurray for Wine! Hurray for the Foreigners!'"
Cohn leaves to bring back Brett and Mike. Jake relates that the fiesta went on for seven days and nights in a surreal atmosphere of no consequences. They watch the religious procession. Jake and his friends try to follow the crowd into church, but are denied entrance because Brett is not wearing a hat. In the street, dancers in wreaths of garlic dance and chant in a circle around Brett. They do the same to Bill and Jake. They do not let her dance, as they want her to be an "image to dance around." After, they pull them into a wine-shop and seat Brett on a cask from which they draw wine. Jake tries to buy wine, but is denied. Meanwhile, Brett has been given a wreath of garlic and is learning to drink from wine-skins.
Jake leaves to buy two leather wine-skins. He returns to the wine-shop and fills the wine-skins; a man offers to pay for Jake, and when Jake does not allow him to, instead buys him a drink. He asks for a squeeze from Jake's wine-skin in return. Jake finds Brett and Bill in the back room, surrounded by dancers. Mike is eating with some men and invites Jake over; Jake eats with them and passes around his wine-skin. Jake finds Cohn passed out in a back room, but leaves him alone. Cohn returns two hours later, hungry for dinner. They decide to leave.
They eat a big dinner and go out again. Jake wants to stay up all night to watch the bulls run through the streets in the early morning, but he is too sleepy. Unable to find his key, he sleeps in Cohn's room. He wakes to the rocket announcing the release of the bulls. Jake watches from the balcony. Men run down the street to the bull-ring, chased by bulls. They disappear from sight, and a rocket soon announces they have entered the bull-ring. Cohn, who watched the activities in the ring with the others, wakes Jake later; Jake learns one of the bulls hurt several people in the ring.
Jake and his friends go to the bull-fight that afternoon. Jake has six tickets -- three in the front row, three in the middle. He and Bill sit in the front; they give the extra ticket to a waiter to sell. Jake gives some advice to Brett about watching the fight; she is nervous about what will happen when the bull attacks the horse. Jake and Bill go to the hotel to get their wine-skin, and Montoya introduces them to Pedro Romero, an extremely good-looking young bull-fighter. They exchange a few words and leave.
Jack finds the fight good, mostly because Romero is a "real" bull-fighter. His other friends seem to enjoy the fight, as well. After, they make their way through the packed crowd and to the café. They discuss the fight; as Mike points out and Brett admits, she could not stop staring at Romero. Cohn, however, almost became sick from watching the first horse. Brett says she wants to sit in the first row next time.
The second day of fights is better than the first. Romero dominates the show. Jake sits with Brett and explains the action, and why Romero is so skilled, elegant, and authentic a matador. Mike jokes that Brett is falling in love with Romero. The next day Romero does not fight, and the day after no fights are scheduled, though the fiesta continues.
The chapter's two sections, concentrating on the fiesta and the bull-fighting, are ripe with contrasts and parallels to Jake's society. While the fiesta is not so much wilder than the parties Jake and the expatriates are used to, it is different in one overwhelming way: it is a longstanding tradition with ritualistic ties to nature, rather than a shallow exercise in hedonism. It has religious undertones, as Jake notes, and it is no wonder he and his sacrilegious friends are barred entrance from the church (technically because Brett does not have a hat, but perhaps Hemingway is pointing out that they do not belong there in more spiritual ways).
Despite its showy rockets, the fiesta is less a spectacle, as the expatriates are accustomed to witnessing, and more a series of expressive rituals, Bacchanalian though they may be. The dancing, for instance, contrasts with the dancing in Paris. There, the wild dancing was either an excuse for cheap sexuality or competitiveness, as when the homosexual men dancing with Georgette threatened Jake; here, the men's dance is a dignified ceremony of unity. When Bill and Jake see the pied-piper figure leading the dancing children around, for instance, Bill cannot comprehend the mythological significance, calling him the "'village idiot.'" The fiesta is hedonistic, but its sense of ritual maintains some order. While Jake says there are no consequences in the fiesta, just as Jake and his friends feel there are none in their regular lives, it is understood that the fiesta, as a weeklong ceremony, will soon end and consequences will return. The expatriates, on the other hand, want to believe their party will never end.
Even Brett's otherwise destructive sexuality is given a ritualistic bent. She is revered as a fertility goddess, given an honorary wreath of garlic (Cohn's wreath may be an ironic decoration, or perhaps it signifies that even Cohn, a virtual castrated "steer," is more fertile than the truly infertile Jake); seated on the wine-cask, it is as if she is the Dionysian bearer of wine, a literally fruitful goddess.
The atmosphere in the fiesta is one of generosity; drinks and food are shared freely, but it has none of the competitiveness that has come when the count, or even Harris (the Englishman), bought drinks. Still, there is some financial corruption in the air; the fiesta doubles the prices of the meal at the hotel, and the man in the wine-shop is suspicious that Jake will sell the wine-skins in Bayonne.
Hemingway parallels Romero's bull-fighting techniques with Brett's sexual tactics. Both characters are physically beautiful, and both are masters at their respective games. Jake provides an explicit description of Brett's sexuality in his description of Romero's bull-fighting: "[H]e dominated the bull by making him realize he was unattainable, while he prepared him for the killing." Previously, Brett had said she would "tromper" Jake like all the other men if they got together; while the word's best meaning is "to be unfaithful to," it also means "to elude." Like the bull-fighter, she teases men, tricking them into thinking they can have her, then eludes them at the last moment. It is clear why Romero fascinates her; aside from his physical appeal, he appears to be the one male who could make her pursue him. She is sexually engaged in the bull-fight, and describes herself after the fight in post-coital terms: "'These bull-fights are hell on oneI'm limp as a rag.'"
Romero also fits the definition of what has become known in literary criticism as a "Hemingway hero." Hemingway defined a code of ethics for heroism, the most important tenet being that a brave hero exhibits "grace under pressure." What this means is that in difficult situations -- especially mortal ones -- the hero handles himself assuredly and confronts the danger head-on. The bull-fighter, of course, literally faces death, and Jake admires Romero because he is authentic in his confrontation with death; he allows the bull to come as close to his body as possible, unlike the other fighters, but always remains in control. Another quality of the Hemingway hero is that he is foremost a man of action, not of intellectualization. Hemingway's descriptions in this chapter, especially of the bull-fight, hone in on the action. This is not to suggest that there is a lack of analytic material here -- rather, this is one of the more profound sections of the novel -- but that the significance can be located directly in the action. When Jake says that there is an "Absolute purity of line in [Romero's] movements," he may as well be talking about Hemingway's prose, refined to its essence of action.
It rains heavily during the fiesta, though the festivities and dancing continue. While Jake shaves in his room, Montoya tells him people at the Grand Hotel want Romero and Marcial Lalanda to come over for after-dinner coffee. Jake suggests he not pass the invitation on to Romero, and Montoya is pleased, as he feels foreigners could corrupt the young matador.
At dinner in the hotel, Romero invites Jake to his table. They discuss the vocabulary of bull-fighting in English and Spanish. Romero, who speaks some English, tells Jake he has been fighting for three years. He is very modest when discussing his work, and promises that tomorrow he will put on a good show. Brett wants to be introduced, and they all move to a bigger table. Brett flirts with Romero; Mike, drunk and disorderly, makes disparaging comments about bull-fighting and about Brett's interest in Romero. Montoya comes into the room, but leaves when he sees Romero at Jake's table. Mike makes a toast to Romero, and Romero leaves. Mike tells Cohn his presence is not desired. Cohn is insulted, but seems to enjoy it, as well.
Before Mike can fight Cohn, Jake intervenes and pulls them both outside, where it has stopped raining. Brett and Bill soon join them to watch fireworks. They finally make it to a bar with a friend of Bill's from Biarritz. Mike compliments her on her appearance, and he goes outside with her and Bill. Brett tells Cohn to leave her and Jake alone, and he departs. She tells Jake she is sick of him. They go for a walk and see Cohn outside, though they evade him and walk in the quiet parts of town. Brett admits she has fallen in love with Romero. Jake urges her not to let it happen, but she says she cannot help it. She feels she has to do something, as she has lost her self-respect with the way Mike and Cohn are around her. She asks Jake to help her through this, and she suggests they go find Romero.
They locate him in the café, smoking cigars with other bull-fighters. Jake and Brett take a table, and Romero joins them. Brett reads Romero's fortune from his hand and says he will live a long time. He admits that he does not let others know he speaks English, as they would not approve. Jake leaves under the guise to find their friends, but he makes it clear it is to leave Romero and Brett alone. When he returns later on his own, they are gone.
Jake says of Cohn "'I'm not sorry for him. I hate him, myself.'" The sentence is interesting. Though he means, of course, that he himself hates Cohn, the construction also implies Jake's self-loathing -- he hates both "him" and "myself." Both objects of hatred are logical and have been detailed throughout the book; Cohn's suffering reminds him of his own pain, and Jake has numerous reasons to hate himself (his impotence, his irresponsibility, his shallow relationships, and his dependence on Brett).
Brett, on the other hand, says she hates Cohn's "'damned suffering.'" She wants to hurt men only if their suffering does not cause her any suffering in turn; Jake is a perfect target, as he bottles up most of his pain and rarely exposes her to it. Cohn, on the other hand, is a whimpering puppy whose pathetic dependence on Brett is evident to all. While her evasive sexual tactics draw parallels to bull-fighters, she is less honest than they are; the bull-fighter knows that he will cause pain for the bull (if he is successful, of course), and accepts it, as Romero does. Romero calls the bulls his friends, but admits he must kill them before they kill him.
Brett's unwillingness to admit to this defensive impulse exposes her irresponsibility. She says she's "'never been able to help anything.'" While she refers specifically to the act of falling in love, she implies that none of her emotional manipulations is under her control. Just as Jake shucks off responsibility for helping others (though he does finally intervene before Mike and Cohn spar in this chapter), she casts off responsibility for hurting others.
Romero is somewhat feminine in his appearance -- "His hand was very fine and the wrist was small" -- but it makes him more beautiful and even more masculine, in a way. Jake, on the other hand, may appear more masculine, but he feels far more emasculated, not only for his impotence, but also for his lack of grace under pressure, his inability to follow the code of the hero. Instead of being a hero, Jake remains at the level of an aficionado. His virtual pimping off Brett to Romero underlines his status as an observer, not as a participant. He submits to Brett's desires so much that he is willing to efface his own and live vicariously through Romero.
Jake finds Mike, Bill, and Bill's friend, Edna, outside a bar. They have been thrown out for trying to fight the Englishmen inside. Without Bill, they make it over to the café, where Cohn joins them and asks where Brett is. He doesn't believe that Jake doesn't know. Mike eventually says that Brett has gone off with Romero. Cohn asks Jake if it's true, and when he doesn't answer, calls Jake a "'pimp.'" They fight, and Cohn pummels Jake to the ground. He wakes up from being unconscious and learns that Cohn knocked Mike down, too. They discuss the fight and Mike's bankruptcy. Jake leaves them.
Jake walks to his hotel, feeling as if everything is new to him. At the hotel, Bill tells him Cohn wants to see him. Jake reluctantly goes to Cohn's room, where he sees Cohn is crying. Cohn begs Jake's forgiveness, and says he'll be leaving in the morning. He says he can't take the way Brett treats him like a stranger, after they had lived together in San Sebastian. Jake says goodbye to him and goes to bed.
Jakes wakes with a headache, and remembers he is supposed to show Edna the running of the bulls. At the café, he is reassured to learn that Bill, Mike, and Edna have just left -- Jake had promised to take her for fear the others would pass out. He enters the crowded bull-ring and sees the bulls run in. A bull gores one man in the back. When a rocket announces the bulls have been corralled, Jake leaves.
He goes to the café and tells a waiter about the man who was gored. The waiter finds it stupid that the man was gored "'Just for fun.'" The waiter then learns the man has died. Jake reads about him in the paper the next day, and the town has a funeral for him the day after that. Jake describes how Romero killed the bull the afternoon of the funeral. Its ear was cut off and given to Romero, who gave it to Brett. She wrapped the ear up in one of Jake's handkerchiefs and left it deep in her hotel room's drawer.
Jake lies down on his sunlit bed. His jaw is sore from Cohn's punches. Bill and Mike come into his room. They tell him the bulls trampled the crowd in that morning's show. They say Edna was impressed and wanted them to go into the ring. A chambermaid brings them beer. Jake learns that after Cohn beat up him and Mike, he found Brett in Romero's room and beat up Romero badly. After Cohn had knocked Romero down many times, he said he wouldn't hit him anymore. Romero hit Cohn in the face, then fell down on the floor and threatened to kill him if he weren't out of town by the morning. Brett told Cohn off until he cried and wanted to shake hands with her and Romero. When he leaned down to shake Romero's hand, Romero punched him again. Brett is now taking care of Romero. Mike tells him about Brett's unhappy relationship with Ashley (from whom she received her title), then leaves with Bill and tells the chambermaid to bring him more alcohol.
Jake quickly takes Cohn's apology, several times saying "'so long'" to him and nearly forgetting that he will be leaving in the morning. But it is not only because he cares so little for Cohn that he does nothing to console him. Perhaps Jake recognizes that Cohn is right about him -- that he is, indeed, a pimp -- and that he is deserving of the physical punishment (and if not for how he acts with Brett, then at least for Jake's passivity in helping Cohn when Mike humiliates him).
There is a parallel between the man who was gored and Jake, with his own war wound; both wounds are rendered by brutish violence and seem absurd, or "'Just for fun,'" as the waiter says. The count, too, was wounded in the back, in the same place as the gored man, but he has managed to turn it into a scar of pride. Even the dead man is given a stately funeral; Jake must live quietly with his shameful wound.
However, the greater parallel with the gored man is Cohn's final defeat. Like the gored man, whom no one helps, no one steps in to save Cohn from being trampled by Brett. And, again, while the gored man is given a good funeral by the town, Jake's friends hardly seem to care ("'Was there?'" Bill responds when hearing there was a death), much like they are apathetic to Cohn's departure. Ironically, only now is Cohn somewhat disillusioned; Mike believes he has been "'ruined'" by Romero's slap in his face. Cohn represents the vestiges of pre-war idealism, chivalrously defending his true love against a fellow suitor, then wanting to shake hands honorably with his competitor. But when his chivalry is rejected by both his love and by the suitor, he understands his place in the world is over, that his romantic notions are no longer applicable.
The severing of the ear somewhat resembles a castration, as well. It makes sense that Brett ends up the owner of it, as she has emasculated all the other men in her life. By discarding it, not only does she prove she is not a true aficionado of bull-fighting, but she demonstrates how little she cares about the other virtual castrations she has carried out. As with the ear, she shoves all the devastation she has created deep into a drawer. In other words, she refuses to take responsibility and witness the gruesome effects of her manipulations. She works out her guilt by tending to the sick, as Mike says and Jake knows (remember, he met her while in the hospital).
It is the last day of the fiesta and the town is packed. Brett joins Jake and company at the café. They tell her Cohn has left, and she says Romero is badly hurt and won't leave his room, though he is still going to fight. Mike asks Brett how her "'boy friend'" is, and tips over the table. Brett leaves with Jake. She tells him she is happy, and asks him to go to the fight with her. They go into church, as she wants to pray for Romero, but she makes them leave quickly, as she feels nervous.
They return to the hotel, and Brett goes to Romero's room. Jake goes into Mike's room, and finds him looking like a "death mask" on the bed in the midst of empty bottles and strewn clothing. He is drunk and speaks awkwardly, then falls asleep. Jake finds Bill in his room and they eat lunch across the street, as Bill wants to slight the snotty German headwaiter.
After lunch, they go to the bull-ring with Brett and sit ring-side. They watch as everything is prepared for the fight. Jake watches the three matadors -- Romero, Marcial, and Belmonte -- through the binoculars. The President arrives to start the festivities. Romero, his face swollen, hands his sword-handler his cape; it is in turn handed to Brett.
Belmonte, a recently unretired legend, renowned for working close to the bull and gravely endangering himself, goes first and is very good. However, he is not as good as he used to be, nor does he place himself in as great danger, and disappoints the crowd until they turn against him. Jake relates that Belmonte came out of retirement to compete against lesser talents like Marcial, but that Romero has overshadowed him. Romero, Jake believes, has the "greatness," and he works in front of Brett that afternoon as much as he can, though he never looks up at her.
Jake describes the first "quite," in which the bull makes a charge for a picador, then at each of the three matadors in turn. Romero is last, and he evades the bull as the picador stabs the bull's shoulder. Then Romero pulls the bull out and beautifully evades him several times. With his own bull, whose vision is impaired, Romero works to make the match exciting. The crowd does not understand his technique, however, and believes he is afraid. Romero stabs the bull with his sword, then talks to it before it dies. He brilliantly handles the last bull, the one that gored the man the other day, building up to a suspenseful climax in which he kills the bull on his own terms. His brother cuts the ear off the bull and hands it to Romero, who shows it to the President, then gives it to Brett. He says a few things to Brett, then returns to the adoring crowd.
Jake, Brett, and Bill return to the hotel; Brett goes upstairs, and the men drink in the dining-room. Belmonte enters with his manager and two other men and eats at the next table before they all take a train to Barcelona. Belmonte is silent and does not eat much. Jake and Bill go to the café for some absinthe. While Jake gets very drunk, they discuss Cohn, the end of the fiesta, and Bill's depression. Jake leaves for Brett's room, where he finds Mike, who tells him Brett left with Romero on the train. Jake goes into his room and lies on his bed. He pretends to be asleep when Bill and Mike come in. He comes down later and eats with them, though it seems "as though about six people were missing."
Hemingway draws his final and most detailed parallels between bull-fighting and sexuality in this chapter. Jake resembles the bull with impaired vision; while he still goes for Brett, he is not at full capacity and can never "gore" her, in the sense that the piercing of a bull or of a matador with a sword or horns symbolizes sexual penetration.
Not only can Romero penetrate Brett and bulls alike, he is also a master of foreplay; the crowd begs for him to continue fighting rather than consummate the fight with the climactic penetration: "each pass as it reached the summit gave you a sudden ache inside." Whereas before the matador seemed like the elusive female, here Jake's description casts the spectators as the symbolically receptive female and the matador as the dominant, penetrative male.
Romero is even more of a Hemingway hero for working while injured, for his "grace under pressure." Moreover, he makes the match with the vision-impaired bull more exciting, although the ignorant audience does not appreciate it. Jake, while not a hero but a mere aficionado, at least can appreciate Romero's work; he may be an observer (his use of the binoculars makes this very clear), but at least he is astute.
Belmonte's decline mirrors the Lost Generation's disillusionment; though they are the young generation, their values have similarly decayed since the war, and they must feel aged beyond their years. The chapter maintains this sensation of decline; the fiesta ends, Mike's relationship with Brett appears to be over, and Jake recognizes that their group feels diminished.
Additionally, Hemingway seems to provide a synopsis of his own prose style when Jake describes Romero's technique: "There were no tricks and no mystifications." Like Romero, Hemingway moves close to his subject, but eschews flashiness in favor of honest, authentic writing.
The fiesta is over the next morning. Jake walks through the empty streets to the café. Bill joins him. The three men want to go in different directions; Jake's is San Sebastian. He and Bill plan to get a car and they will all drive together to Bayonne. They drive out to Bayonne, where Bill buys a train ticket for that night to Paris. They drive to Biarritz and have several drinks. They roll dice to see who pays, and Mike keeps losing until he gives Bill his last twenty francs. Bill offers to cash him a check, but since Mike cannot write checks, he turns it down; he says he has some money coming to him and can survive. He tells Bill that Brett has very little money, if any.
They drive around, almost back to the mountains to Pamplona, then to the hotel Mike is staying at in Saint Jean. They say goodbye to him, then drive Bill to catch his train. Jake asks the driver to drive him to a hotel, and he takes the same room he had when he was in Bayonne with Bill and Cohn. He regrets not having gone to Paris with Bill, though he is looking forward to the quiet relaxation of San Sebastian. He has a good dinner in the hotel, and tips the waiter well; Jake appreciates being back in a country where money helps smooth over conflicts.
Jake leaves on the morning train for San Sebastian and takes a hotel room. He resets his watch, as he has regained an hour by returning to Spain. He wires his office and tells them to forward wires to him. He swims in the afternoon at the beach, diving several times. He has a drink outside on the street, then returns to the hotel for dinner, where bicyclists stopping over from a race crowd the dining room. Jake talks with one of the team managers after dinner and discusses bicycling. The man invites him to see them off early tomorrow morning, and Jake says he will try to make it.
Jake oversleeps and misses the bicyclists. He swims again in the morning and suns on a raft. Back at the hotel, he receives a telegram forwarded from Paris from Brett in Madrid, saying she is in trouble and asking him to come to her hotel. He receives another telegram with the same message, forwarded from Pamplona. He tells the concierge to get him a ticket to Madrid that night. He sends a telegram to her, announcing his arrival.
Jake arrives in Madrid on the overnight train. He reaches her hotel and asks for Brett. After some delays, he finds her room. She is happy to see him and kisses him, though he feels she is thinking of something else. She says she made Romero leave yesterday. She says he was ashamed of her, and that he wanted her to grow her hair long. He tried to give her money, she says, but she couldn't. He also wanted to marry her so that she "'couldn't go away from him.'" Ultimately, she feels she could have lived with him had she not seen it would be bad for him.
Brett cries, and Jake holds her. She says she is returning to Mike, and claims she will not become "'one of those bitches.'" They leave the hotel and find the bill has already been paid. They get train tickets for that night and have a drink at a hotel bar. Brett discusses Romero some more. They have lunch and drink a great deal, though Brett cautions Jake against getting drunk. They decide to go for a taxi ride through Madrid. Jake holds her in the taxi. Brett laments that she and Jake could have had "'such a damned good time together.'" The car slows and approaches a policeman directing traffic, and Jake replies, "'YesIsn't it pretty to think so?'"
The end of fiesta heralds the end of the equally hedonistic period now known as Roaring Twenties; though Hemingway in 1926 obviously could not have predicted the stock market's crash in 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, he does seem to warn America that their party will soon end.
We have hope that with the end of the fiesta, Jake may finally be returning to his pre-war values, and may be casting off his hedonistic lifestyle. He regains an hour when going to San Sebastian, and symbolically goes back in time, as well; his repeated dives in the water represent a symbolic baptism of sorts. Again, nature helps regenerate him.
However, Jake has not come so far; he irresponsibly oversleeps to see the bicyclists off, and when he receives the pleading telegram from Brett, he quickly returns to his submissive behavior that overthrows whatever values and self-esteem he holds. In ways, Jake is more pathetic than Cohn; at least Cohn followed Brett around of his own volition, while Jake seems more independent but is truly at Brett's beck and call. Her behavior should be infuriating to him -- she pulls him over to Madrid only so they can leave again together, she keeps saying she does not want to speak about Romero anymore, then talks more about him (even though it probably causes Jake more pain than herself), and she tells Jake she is returning to Mike. But Jake accepts it so long as he still has a chance with her, or even so long as he can stay in her presence.
Oddly, Brett also proves herself to be a pathetic figure here. While she dominates the men in her life, she is also dependent on them -- dependent on them for their submission to her. Moreover, though she gets rid of Romero because he was trying to make her into a more subservient, feminine figure, she also expresses worries about becoming "'one of those bitches that ruins children.'"
The great irony of the novel is that Brett is perhaps most dependent on Jake. She needs him because he gives her constant worship without risk of his ever dominating her, as they cannot have a functional sexual relationship. He is the bull she continually eludes and wounds, but who keeps coming back for more punishment. Their cab ride is similar to the one they took in Paris in Chapter IV, in which she toyed with Jake, alternating between intimacy and distance. We can imagine that soon after her final line to Jake about the relationship that might have been, she will resume talking about Romero, or Mike, or even Cohn.
Jake's final line is rich with irony. As the taxi slows at the policeman's raised baton -- possibly a symbol of Jake's struggle with impotence and how it bars him from advancing with Brett -- he seems to recognize that while it would, indeed, be nice to be with her, the somewhat caustic tone of the word "'pretty'" suggests he finally understands that Brett has no idea how much pain he has been through, both from her and his impotence; "'pretty'" is such an insubstantial word. While Jake ends the novel on a highly disillusioned note, breaking from all his friends rather unceremoniously and recognizing he has misplaced his love in Brett, perhaps this is what he needs to regain his lost self, and perhaps this utter disillusionment is what must impel the Lost Generation -- or a future generation -- to rise again.