The Sun Also Rises | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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The Sun Also Rises | Book 2, Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

It is beautiful the next morning, so Bill, Cohn, and Jake have breakfast in town and stock supplies at the tackle store. Their bus to Pamplona is not running, so they must hire an expensive private car to drive them. When their chauffeur must stop at the Spanish frontier to fill out paperwork, the three men walk around town, taking in the local sites. They take particular interest in the border guards stopping a seeming smuggler at the border for not having a passport. Moving on Jake spends much of the drive looking out the window. The narrative describes the landscape in detail, and for pages there is little dialogue. They arrive at their hotel, Montoya, in Pamplona, where the owner is delighted to house them. Bill and Cohn get into an argument about whether Brett and Mike will actually join them or will stand them up, and after, the three men part ways.

Jake has been to Pamplona many times before and returns to some of his favorite haunts, including a little cathedral he had once thought to be ugly but now appreciates. Inside he prays for everyone he knows, including Brett, Cohn, and "all the bullfighters." The prayer makes Jake feel badly about his lapsed Catholicism: "I was a little ashamed, and regretted that I was such a rotten Catholic." When he returns to the hotel Cohn is showered and groomed, clearly nervous about Brett and Mike's impeding arrival. Jake relishes seeing Cohn nervous and doesn't admit to knowing about Cohn's secret tryst. A telegram arrives at dinner from Brett saying she and Mike are running behind. Even though Cohn knows Brett is traveling with Mike, he insists on staying in Pamplona to wait for them rather than traveling on to the fishing town, Burguete. Later Bill tells Jake that Cohn is just "so awful" and can "go to hell," and Bill's anti-Semitism is apparent. Jake agrees with Bill's assessment of Cohn, and they are both glad he is staying behind.

Analysis

Nature provides the only real solace for Jake from his dissatisfaction. The chapter opens with descriptions of the beautiful weather and beautiful town, a sharp contrast to his descriptions of "pestilential" Paris. Being in nature is pure and honest, allowing Jake a reprieve to forget the horrors he experienced in war. This symbolism is strengthened during the scene with the smuggler. Heavily armed border control agents—a remnant of the war—stop the smuggler from crossing the border on land. In the river however, the smuggler moves freely, and the agents, representing the memory of war, cannot touch him.

With Brett momentarily out of the picture, the men are able to put their competition for her affection aside and simply enjoy each other's company, which they do over a lovely breakfast and shopping trip. As time passes and Brett's arrival becomes imminent, the sense of competition returns. Cohn takes on a "superior" air, which infuriates Jake, while Jake returns to being "unforgivingly jealous" of Cohn and Brett's tryst. Thinking about it again, Jake delights in Cohn's nervous energy.

This chapter also reveals Jake's religious struggles. While Jake previously thought the old cathedral in Pamplona was ugly, he now finds it strangely beautiful, which suggests a change in Jake's religious outlook. Seemingly Jake lost respect for religion during the war, just as he lost value for many other things. As the novel progresses the reader sees Jake struggling to reconnect with his lost religion. Jake is desperate for a solid foundation on which to recover from the war, yet his religious practices don't offer him much support. Jake claims to be a "rotten Catholic," yet he prays for everyone he knows. Nevertheless Jake's prayers, much like his conversations, appear shallow.

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