In the morning, Jake goes out for breakfast, observes Paris in the morning, and goes to work. He goes to an insignificant press conference and shares a taxi back with two colleagues. When he returns to work, Cohn is waiting for him. They lunch together. Cohn is having writer's block, but he can't go to South America because Frances won't let him. Cohn asks him about Brett. Jake says she's getting a divorce now and is going to marry Mike Campbell, who is currently in Scotland. Cohn admits he is feeling in love with her. Jake says he met her while he was in a hospital during the war; she was a V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment; essentially, she was a volunteer nurse) and had married the man whose name she took, Ashley, after her "own true love" died of dysentery. Jake says she has twice married without love. Cohn feels Jake is insulting her, and they get in a small fight, which is quickly smoothed over. They leave and go back to Jake's office.
This chapter provides exposition for Brett's character. We learn her age -- 34 -- and her romantic history, as well as the circumstances around her meeting Jake. As in his celebrated novel about WWI, A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway has chosen to have his couple meet while the man convalesces in a military hospital under the care of a nurse. This nurse-patient romantic relationship takes on a special irony in The Sun Also Rises. Aside from the fact that Brett seems an unlikely caregiver (she seems better off fighting on the front lines), the one thing Brett-as-nurse could not cure, even with her romantic interest in Jake, was his impotence. Typically in novelistic treatments of the romantic nurse-patient relationship, the rest of the man's body is wounded while his sexual organs remain intact, thus preserving his manhood. As Jake has previously observed, perhaps she only wanted him because she couldn't fully have him.
Hemingway also develops further conflicts. Cohn is falling in love with Brett; this was clear enough from the dancing-club episode, and it makes sense that Cohn, lacking any kind of will, would fall for the dominant Brett. Moreover, it is revealed that Brett will marry Mike Campbell (whom they referred to in the dancing-club episode). While Jake maintains she loves Mike, she has also said she loves Jake. It is unclear if she truly does love Jake or simply enjoys toying with him.
Jake waits in a hotel for Brett and writes some letters. After a while she still has not shown, so he has a drink in the hotel bar, then taxis over to a café. There, he finds a friend, Harvey Stone, who asks to borrow money. Cohn joins them, and Harvey mocks him before leaving. Jake describes Cohn in more detail, feeling he has not explained him enough. Frances joins them and asks Jake if she'll come with her to another café to talk to her. Cohn stays put.
They leave and Frances confides in Jake that Cohn wants to leave her. Now she feels she is not a desirable bride for anyone else. They resolve there is nothing to be done about it, and return to Cohn. Frances reveals she is going to England to visit friends, and that Cohn is going to give her 200 hundred pounds -- although he originally was only going to give her 100 pounds. Jake marvels at the abuse Cohn takes. Frances cheerfully reveals more hurtful information with Jake as the audience, such as Cohn's mistreatment of a secretary on his magazine, or of his sexual plans once he leaves her. Jake makes an excuse to leave, unable to take her bullying of Cohn any longer, and watches them through the window from the street. He hails a taxi to go home.
Here we see another way sex can be used as a weapon. Frances uses her knowledge of Cohn's sexual motives and history -- of his desire for sordid affairs and of his callous treatment of the secretary -- to humiliate him in front of Jake. Though Jake is fully aware of the pain Cohn suffers, both as an observer and as someone who has had his fair share of romantic pain with Brett, he does not try to intervene: "I did not even feel an impulse to try and stop it." Jake is irresponsible, unwilling to fix problems when he sees them, unwilling to shoulder someone else's pain because he feels he is too burdened by his own.
But his irresponsibility is matched by Frances's. She worries about Cohn's not wanting to marry her only because she feels she is no longer marriageable. And, though she does not like children, she says she always thought she would have kids first, and then start to like them. As in F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 Lost Generation masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, in which Fitzgerald uses the metaphor of careless drivers to suggest the irresponsibility of the times, Hemingway subtly indicts Jake for his unrealized sympathy. It is almost worse that Jake can understand, even feel, the pain of others but, as he says to Frances, believes he is powerless: "'And of course there isn't anything I can do.'"
As Jake heads to his flat, his concierge tells him Brett stopped by with a very large man, and that they will be back in an hour. Jake reads a telegram from Bill Gorton, informing him he will soon be arriving in France. After Jake showers, Brett shows up with the count. Jake reminds her she didn't show up for their date; the count explains that she was very drunk. She also explains she got in the concierge's good graces by giving her 200 francs from the count. Jake goes into his room to get dressed. Brett comes in, and Jake says he loves her. Brett says she will get rid of the count, though Jake tells her not to. She leaves and returns, saying she sent the count out for champagne.
Jake asks Brett if they could live together, but she says they couldn't, as she would "tromper" (be unfaithful to, or elude) him. She says she is going away from him tomorrow, to San Sebastian, until Mike comes back. The count returns with the champagne. They discuss titles, and the count says Brett wouldn't need one, as "'You got the most class of anybody I ever seen.'" They make more small talk and have the champagne. The count reveals he has been in seven wars, and shows his scars on his stomach and back from arrow wounds. Brett is impressed. The count says that because he has lived very much, he can now enjoy himself so well.
They eat dinner in a restaurant, then go to a crowded club. Brett tells Jake he is a bad dancer, and that Mike is the best dancer she knows. Though she says she likes Mike, she never writes him, whereas he writes her frequently. She does not know when they will get married, as it depends on when her divorce goes through. They talk with the count, then dance again. Brett tells Jake she is "'so miserable.'" Jake feels he is about to repeat something nightmarishly. They say goodbye to the count and leave. They take the count's car to her hotel, but Brett doesn't want Jake to come up with her. They kiss at her door, but Brett pushes him away twice before leaving. Jake takes the car home.
Though the count is rich, popular, and well-traveled, his ungrammatical speech belies some lack of education: "'You got the most class of anybody I ever seen.'" No matter what one's financial state, everyone in the novel wants that particular distinction of classiness, that nobility that is somewhat separate from pure money. Even the concierge (after getting money from Brett, of course) finds Brett very prestigious, and is generally concerned with people's families.
The count also has the adventurous experience that Cohn craves. This is not merely sexual experience, but confrontations with death. However, his experiences have not destroyed him, as Jake's have. The count's wounds are merely scars, honorable war wounds he is proud to show off, while Jake's are hidden from sight, unmentionable, and considered at best "funny," at worst, shameful. Ironically, though the count was pierced with arrows, a highly phallic image of penetration, Jake is the one who has been rendered impotent.
We see greater evidence of irresponsibility. Brett did not show up for her date with Jake, as the count has to explain, because she was drunk. She also buys approval from the concierge with the count's money. Furthermore, she does not write Mike, though he writes her, and she says only that she is "'damned fond of him,'" not that she is in love with him, as she has previously maintained. Her emotional state also vacillates quickly, or at least what she claims her emotional state is, and she toys with Jake. He feels he is doomed to repeat the nightmare of falling for her, then being scorned. Her word for what she would do to him, "tromper," has several meanings, the most likely of which is "to be unfaithful to." It also means "to elude," and this may foreshadow the novel's later shift into the arena of bull-fighting, as matadors elude the charging bulls.
Jake does not see Brett until she returns from San Sebastian, nor does he see Cohn, who takes a trip to the country. He works extra hard in preparation for his trip at the end of June to Spain with Bill Gorton, his writer-friend. Bill visits, travels around Europe, then returns and describes his trip, which he cannot remember very well, as he was drunk for most of it. He recounts in detail an adventure with a friendly black boxer to whom he lent money. They walk out for dinner, passing a statue, as Bill flippantly jokes about taxidermy with Jake, who is more grounded.
They run into Brett on the street, in a cab just back from her trip. Jake introduces her to Bill. She tells him that Mike is coming back tonight. They get in the cab and go off for a drink. They discuss Bill's and Brett's respective trips. Before she leaves, she tells them to meet her and Mike tonight. They eat dinner at a restaurant packed with Americans. After, they roam the streets for a while until meeting Brett and Mike. Brett introduces Mike as an "'undischarged bankrupt'"; he explains that his ex-partner "'did me in.'" Mike keeps referring to Brett as a "'lovely piece.'" Jake and Bill soon leave to watch a boxing match.
The experience of travel is largely wasted on Bill because he was drunk for most of it and cannot remember it; despite the grandiose adventures the Lost Generation accumulates, much of them are drowned in a haze of alcohol. Bill is a literary party boy who exhibits the worst tendencies of Hemingway's fellow Lost Generation writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald (and perhaps of Hemingway himself), wasting his literary talent on trenchant quips and raucous partying (he was directly inspired by another friend of Hemingway's, though).
While the modern reader may see Hemingway as a clear-cut racist for his repeated use of the word "nigger," it is the slur his upper-class white characters would use (nor would they consider it a slur as we do now). If anything, his characters have a confused sense of race. They like to think of themselves as exotic and sophisticated for their association with blacks (remember Brett's waving hello to the black drummer in the dancing-club), but they never want to relinquish their status of superiority -- Bill can still feel he is on top, for instance, by loaning the black boxer money.
Yet another statue pops up in this chapter. While a statue is, as a sculpture, art, it is foremost a commemoration of greatness, what the Lost Generation strives for, but without diligence. The statues are constant signposts of their mediocrity, landmark directions for the Lost Generation.
Bill's joking about taxidermy bears some significance. Instead of hunting and living in nature, the urban characters are surrounded by dead, stuffed animals. They live in a capitalist environment that undercuts man's primal urge to kill; as Bill says, "'Simple exchange of values. You give them money. They give you a stuffed dog.'" While he refers to the financial transaction as the "'simple exchange of values,'" he may as well be talking about the natural values the men have traded away in exchange for the new, emasculated urban ones.
Lastly, only in the taxi with Bill does Jake comment on Mike's constant referral to Brett as a "'lovely piece.'" Perhaps it is because to do so in the narrative -- to himself -- would be too painful; in conversation, he can merely pass it off that "'Mike was pretty excited about his girl friend,'" as if Brett is merely Mike's "'girl friend'" in Jake's eyes. Not only is she more than that, it seems an odd label for Brett; as we have seen, she is frequently less a girl than a man. Among the company in this scene, it becomes even clearer. The men all have relatively bland, four-letter, monosyllabic nicknames (Jake, Bill, Mike), while Brett's name, still monosyllabic, has five letters and is more distinctive. Jake and Mike, especially, have similar names, different only by the first two letters, but an entire world of emotional pain separates them.
The morning after the boxing match, Jake receives a letter from the vacationing Cohn, who is eager to go on the fishing trip with Jake and Bill. Jake writes him and gives him instructions for where to meet them in Spain. That night, Jake finds Brett and Mike in a bar. Mike asks if Jake would mind if they accompanied him to Spain, and Jake says it's fine. Mike leaves to get a haircut, and Brett asks Jake if Cohn is going on the trip. When Jake tells her yes, she informs him that it might be "'rough'" on Cohn, as she went to San Sebastian with him.
Bill and Jake take a morning train to Bayonne. They have difficulty reserving a place for lunch and get in an argument with the dining-car conductor. They strike up a conversation with an older American couple and discuss the Americans from Ohio on the train making a "pilgrimage" to various Catholic centers of Europe. Jake and Mike drink, talk some more with the couple, and finally have lunch. At night, they arrive, say goodbye to the couple, and meet Cohn. Cohn is happy to meet Bill, whose books he has read. They go to their pleasant hotel.
This chapter is most notable for the slight regression Jake and Bill undergo on their train trip. Many of the amenities they are accustomed to are taken away from them. They no longer are served food whenever they want it, and religion suddenly overtakes money in terms of importance (the Catholics monopolize the lunch service, while Jake and Bill cannot buy their way into the dining-car). These changes herald the men's return to nature, back to the primal hunt (or fishing) where one is never served food, back to a spiritual, almost religious relationship with nature.
The other intriguing development is the revelation that Brett has added Cohn to her list of conquests. Perhaps this is why Jake regards Cohn somewhat differently when he meets him in Bayonne; though Cohn seems to surprise Jake frequently (and the reader), revealing depth of character not formerly recognized, Jake now may have a newfound respect for Cohn, feeling that Cohn is in the same boat -- desiring a woman neither one can have.