narrator and protagonist of the novel. Jake is an American veteran
of World War I working as a journalist in Paris, where he and his
friends engage in an endless round of drinking and parties. Although Jake
is the most stable of his friends, he struggles with anguish over
his love for Lady Brett Ashley, his impotence, and the moral vacuum
that resulted from the war. Jake positions himself as an observer,
generally using his insight and intelligence to describe only those around
him, rarely speaking directly about himself. However, in describing
the events and people he sees, Jake implicitly reveals much about
his own thoughts and feelings.
in-depth analysis of Jake Barnes.
Lady Brett Ashley
- A beautiful British socialite who drinks heavily.
As the novel begins, Brett is separated from her husband and awaiting
a divorce. Though she loves Jake, she is unwilling to commit to
a relationship with him because it will mean giving up sex. Indeed,
she is unwilling to commit fully to any of the many men who become
infatuated with her, though she has affairs with a number of them.
However, she does not seem to draw much happiness from her independence.
Her life, like the lives of many in her generation, is aimless and unfulfilling.
in-depth analysis of Lady Brett Ashley.
wealthy American writer living in Paris. Though he is an expatriate
like many of his acquaintances, Cohn stands apart because he had
no direct experience of World War I and because he is Jewish. He
holds on to the romantic prewar ideals of love and fair play, yet, against
the backdrop of the devastating legacy of World War I, these values
seem tragically absurd. As a Jew and a nonveteran, Cohn is a convenient
target for the cruel and petty antagonism of Jake and his friends.
in-depth analysis of Robert Cohn.
Jake, a heavy-drinking war veteran, though not an expatriate. Bill
uses humor to deal with the emotional and psychological fallout
of World War I. He and Jake, as American veterans, share a strong bond,
and their friendship is one of the few genuine emotional connections
in the novel. However, Bill is not immune to the petty cruelty that
characterizes Jake and Jake’s circle of friends.
constantly drunk, bankrupt Scottish war veteran. Mike has a terrible
temper, which most often manifests itself during his extremely frequent
bouts of drunkenness. He has a great deal of trouble coping with
Brett’s sexual promiscuity, which provokes outbreaks of self-pity
and anger in him, and seems insecure about her infidelity as well
as his lack of money.
beautiful, nineteen-year-old bullfighter. Romero’s talents in the
ring charm both aficionados and newcomers to the sport alike. He
serves as a foil (a character whose attitudes or emotions contrast
with, and thereby accentuate, those of another character) for Jake
and his friends in that he carries himself with dignity and confidence
at all times. Moreover, his passion for bullfighting gives his life
meaning and purpose. In a world of amorality and corrupted masculinity,
Romero remains a figure of honesty, purity, and strength.
owner of a Pamplona inn and a bullfighting expert. Montoya sees
bullfighting as something sacred, and he respects and admires Jake
for his genuine enthusiasm about it. Montoya takes a paternal interest
in the gifted young bullfighter Pedro Romero and seeks to protect him
from the corrupting influences of tourists and fame.
girlfriend at the beginning of the novel. A manipulative status-seeker,
Frances was highly domineering early in their relationship and persuaded Cohn
to move to Paris. As her looks begin to fade, she becomes increasingly
possessive and jealous.
- A wealthy Greek count and a veteran of seven wars
and four revolutions. Count Mippipopolous becomes infatuated with
Brett, but, unlike most of Brett’s lovers, he does not subject her
to jealous, controlling behavior. Amid the careless, amoral pleasure-seeking
crowd that constitutes Jake’s social circle, the count stands out
as a stable, sane person. Like Pedro Romero, he serves as a foil
for Jake and his friends.
British war veteran whom Jake and Bill befriend while fishing in
Spain. The three men share a profound common bond, having all experienced
the horrors of World War I, as well as the intimacy that soldiers develop.
Harris, as Jake and Bill call him, is a kind, friendly person who
greatly values the brief time he spends with Jake and Bill.
beautiful but somewhat thick-witted prostitute whom Jake picks up
and takes to dinner. Jake quickly grows bored of their superficial
conversation and abandons her in a club to be with Brett.
bullfighter who fights on the same day as Pedro Romero. In his early
days, Belmonte was a great and popular bullfighter. But when he
came out of retirement to fight again, he found he could never live
up to the legends that had grown around him. Hence, he is bitter and
dejected. He seems to symbolize the entire Lost Generation in that
he feels out of place and purposeless in his later adult life.
drunken expatriate gambler who is perpetually out of money. Harvey
is intelligent and well read, yet he cannot escape his demons of
excessive drinking and gambling. Like many of Jake’s friends, he
is prone to petty cruelty toward Cohn.