The Sun Also Rises | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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The Sun Also Rises | Book 1, Chapter 7 | Summary

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Summary

When Jake arrives at the hotel the concierge informs him Brett returned to visit him. The concierge apologizes for having harshly judged Brett on the night she showed up drunk because she now believes Brett is "so gentille." Brett returns an hour later with the Count wanting to party. Jake is not in the mood and retires to his room. Brett enters and speaks softly to him, sending the Count away to buy more champagne so they can be alone. Feeling sorry for himself, Jake asks Brett to run away with him. She declines, insinuating sex is too important to her: "It's my fault, Jake. It's the way I'm made." She says she plans to leave tomorrow for San Sebastian because it is too difficult for her to be around him. When the Count returns, the three drink multiple bottles of expensive champagne and visit a fancy restaurant for lunch. The Count and Brett talk about their titles, which Brett will be sorry to lose once she divorces her current husband, and the Count suggests she and Jake should get married. Both quickly brush off the comment. When talk turns to the war the Count shows off scars from his wartime injuries. He says that having risked losing everything, he now appreciates everything fully in his life. Brett and Jake don't understand the sentiment because they feel the opposite. Having lived through the war they now feel dead inside.

After lunch the threesome visits a dance hall. Brett and Jake dance together, but she spends the whole time talking about her fiancé, Mike. Again Brett says, "Oh, darling ... I'm so miserable." Jake asks if she wants to leave and she agrees. They say goodbye to the Count and drive back to Brett's hotel. Again they kiss until Brett pushes Jake away, and he heads home alone.

Analysis

Like Cohn the Count provides a contrast for Jake. They are both veterans of World War I and both were injured, yet the Count has a completely different outlook on postwar life. Wartime losses have encouraged the Count to live his life to the fullest: "I have lived very much that now I can enjoy everything so well." Jake and Brett don't understand this mentality and try to mock it, revealing how little they value life; the war has ignited life in the Count but left Jake and Brett feeling dead inside. The Count buys expensive champagne—which he drinks simply because he enjoys it—pursues beautiful women, and parties in dance halls because each of these things brings him pleasure. He recognizes life is short and must be lived to the fullest. Brett and Jake, on the other hand, use sex, alcohol, and food to distract from their lives rather than to enhance their happiness. Interestingly the Count warns Jake and Brett not to "mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste." Essentially he warns them not to drink to escape emotion or they lose the wine—and life's—true pleasure.

The Count also provides contrast with Jake through the way Brett behaves with them. With emasculated Jake, Brett fulfills traditionally masculine roles. She is independent and promiscuous, leaving Jake pining. With the Count, who takes care of Brett financially and sexually, Brett reverts to more traditional female roles. She allows the Count to pursue her, and she behaves coquettishly in conversation. It jars readers to hear Brett ignore the Count's objectification as he continually calls her "my dear" and monitors how much she drinks, what she says, and the way she behaves in conversation. Brett views herself differently with men like the Count; she does not value her independence in the same honest way she does with Jake. This likely contributes to her being "miserable."

Finally this chapter contains one of the novel's most heartbreaking and revealing scenes, in which Jake professes his love for Brett and begs her to run away with him. Typically Jake runs away from his emotions, or escapes them through excessive drinking. The characters rarely speak their true emotions, particularly ones that make them vulnerable. Jake's plea, along with Brett's remark to the Count that Jake is the only person she can be honest with, reveal the true love in their relationship, making their inability to be together all the more heartbreaking.

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