Summary: Chapter 8

Jake does not see Brett or Cohn for a while. He receives a brief card from Brett, who is vacationing in San Sebastian. He also receives a note from Cohn reporting that he has left Paris for the countryside. Frances has left for England. Jake’s friend Bill Gorton, an American veteran, arrives from the States. He and Jake plan on going to Spain in order to fish and to attend the fiesta at Pamplona. Bill visits Jake before leaving to visit Budapest and Vienna. When he returns, he tells Jake that he was too drunk to remember very much of his four days in Vienna. While Jake and Bill look for a restaurant, they see Brett get out of a cab. Jake, up to this point, is unaware that she has returned from San Sebastian.

Jake, Bill, and Brett go for drinks together. Brett eventually leaves to meet Mike Campbell, and Jake and Bill eat dinner and drink some more in a restaurant packed with American tourists. Later, they meet Brett and Mike at a café. Mike is drunk and continually mentions how beautiful Brett is. He wants to return to their hotel early. Jake and Bill decide to attend a boxing match, leaving them alone.

Summary: Chapter 9

The next morning, Jake receives a wire from Cohn asking to meet Bill and Jake when they go fishing in Spain. Jake makes the necessary arrangements. That evening Jake finds Brett and Mike at a bar. They ask if they may join him in Spain as well. Jake politely responds that they may. When Mike leaves to get a haircut, Brett asks if Cohn will be going to Spain as well. When Jake tells her that he will, she wonders if it will be too “rough” on Cohn. Jake does not understand until she reveals that she was with Cohn in San Sebastian. Jake and Brett exchange tense words before eventually deciding that Brett should write Cohn, telling him she will be in Spain. To their surprise, when Cohn receives her note, he still wants to go. Jake plans to meet Mike and Brett in Pamplona. Bill and Jake board a train from Paris to Bayonne, where they plan to meet Cohn. The train is overrun with people (whom Jake identifies as Catholics), and the two men must wait to eat their lunch. When they arrive in Bayonne, Cohn is waiting at the station.

Summary: Chapter 10

Bill, Jake, and Cohn hire a car to Pamplona. Cohn is nervous because he does not know if Bill and Jake know about his fling with Brett in San Sebastian. He does not believe Brett and Mike will arrive later that night. His “air of superior knowledge” irritates Bill and Jake. In anger, Bill foolishly wagers a hundred pesetas that they will arrive on time. Bill tells Jake that he can’t stand it when Cohn gets “superior and Jewish.” When Jake picks up his bullfighting tickets, he stops at the cathedral to pray, but he finds his mind wandering.

Jake goes with Cohn to the station to meet Mike and Brett, simply to irritate Cohn. However, Mike and Brett are not on the train, so Jake and Cohn return to the hotel. Jake receives a telegram from Brett and Mike telling him that they have stopped in San Sebastian because Brett is sick. He does not hand the telegram over because he wants to annoy Cohn further, but he does tell Bill and Cohn that Brett and Mike are still in San Sebastian. Bill and Jake plan to take a bus to a small town called Burguete to go fishing, but Cohn decides to stay behind and wait for Brett and Mike. He admits to Jake that he wrote to Brett suggesting a meeting in San Sebastian. When Jake is alone with Bill, Bill reports that Cohn confided in him about his “date” with Brett. Bill says that he thinks Cohn is nice but “so awful.”

Analysis: Chapters 8–10

Bill Gorton provides an important contrast to Jake. While Jake is generally tight-lipped and hesitates to express what is on his mind, Bill takes a different approach to communicating his feelings: he jokes constantly, using humor as a coping mechanism. Bill, like all of Jake’s friends, wrestles with the demons of the postwar world. Thus, he feels compelled to drink himself blind for four days in Vienna. But humor allows him to talk about the issues that haunt him in the wake of the Great War. For instance, he addresses the issue of weakened masculinity in the postwar world through his motto of “Never be daunted.” He presents this phrase in the context of drinking, telling Jake not to be daunted by how much he needs to drink in order to “catch up.” The phrase implicitly touches upon notions of valor and bravery. Bill subtly suggests that in the postwar world, such notions have meaning only in the realm of alcohol.

Jake and Bill are bothered by the Catholics on the train because the Catholics possess strong faith and a belief in God and in moral order. Bill and Jake, on the other hand, lack this confident, secure faith. They struggle with the lack of meaning in their lives. Bill, in particular, seems threatened by the Catholics, joking that their monopolization of the dining car is “enough to make a man join the Klan.” Ironically, we learn that Jake is himself Catholic, although he is somewhat reticent about the fact. He periodically looks for solace in his religion, but his faith is not sufficient to anchor him mentally and spiritually. When he goes into church to pray, for example, he finds his mind wandering.

Jake and Bill are hostile to Cohn after his dalliance with Brett. Jake, of course, is painfully jealous of Cohn, and we can infer that Bill picks up on his friend’s jealousy and sympathizes with him. But while Jake has had to tolerate Brett’s other men before, Cohn is doubly infuriating to Jake because he does not seem to understand that his affair with Brett is over. Cohn is blind to the unspoken rules by which Brett, Jake, and their friends live their lives, and since he knows nothing about Brett’s real love for Jake, it is unsurprising that Jake should now find Cohn intensely irritating. Of course, neither Jake nor Bill discusses these feelings directly. Instead, they increasingly express their feelings through anti-Semitic jibes, alluding to Cohn’s status as an outsider because he is a Jew and because he is not a veteran of World War I.

Cohn certainly makes a convenient target for contempt. The way he pines for Brett when he clearly should give up is quite pathetic. He is awkward socially and a little slow intellectually at times. Bill and Jake avoid confronting their own shortcomings by mocking Cohn’s. Jake seems somewhat more aware that their contempt for Cohn functions as a way to avoid confronting their contempt for themselves. He knows that his petty vengefulness toward Cohn arises from his jealousy of Cohn’s relationship with Brett. He yearns for her just as much as Cohn does. But, though he knows that his contemptuous stance toward Cohn displaces his contempt for himself, Jake still treats Cohn poorly.