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The Sun Also Rises | Discussion Questions 41 - 50

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In Chapter 17 of The Sun Also Rises, why does Jake want a hot bath?

In Chapter 17 Cohn beats up Jake because Jake won't tell him where Brett has gone. In truth she is off with Romero, as Mike is sure to make clear to Cohn later; the news will break Cohn's heart. After the fight between Cohn and Jake, which is the climax of the story, Jake is hurt as well as drunk; he wants nothing more than a hot bath. This is one instance in which Jake seeks out water for purification to restore himself after a great defeat. Whereas Cohn cries after the fight and begs Jake for forgiveness as part of his catharsis, Jake "wanted a hot bath in deep water."

Why does Hemingway repeat the phrase face down in Chapter 17 of The Sun Also Rises?

In Chapter 17 after Jake and Cohn fight over Brett's whereabouts, Jake finds Cohn in his room "lying face down, on the bed in the dark ... face down on the bed, crying." This image conveys Cohn's sense of defeat and despair at losing Brett to the bullfighter Romero. On the next page Hemingway writes, "The man who had been gored [by the bull] lay face down in the trampled mud." The proximity of these descriptions of two wounded men lying face down in injury and defeat further extends the metaphor of bullfighting as the fight for Brett's love. Brett is the bull who has gored and defeated Cohn.

What is the significance of the waiter's comment about the encierro in Chapter 17 of The Sun Also Rises?

After the running of the bulls, or the encierro, Jake orders coffee and buttered toast at a restaurant—one of the few times he is not consuming alcohol. The waiter asks what happened at the encierro, and Jake explains that one man was badly injured (cogido in Spanish). The waiter replies, "Badly cogido ... All for sport. All for pleasure." Though the waiter is commenting only on the running of the bulls, his remark is a metaphor for Brett's many affairs. Brett badly injures her admirers all for the game, for the sport. The man who was injured by the bull was stabbed in the back and up through the heart. This symbolizes Brett's backstabbing behavior, which injures the hearts of those with whom she plays her games.

How does Jake's relationship with alcohol change by the end of The Sun Also Rises?

Throughout the novel Jake indulges in alcohol to escape his suffering. He makes remarks such as "the absinthe made everything seem better." However Jake's relationship with alcohol changes after the fiesta. When Jake and Bill next drink absinthe, Jake says he is "low as hell," and Bill suggests he "have another." At this point Jake knows he can no longer escape his pain, so he says, "It won't do any good." Sure enough even though Jake becomes "drunker than [he] ever remembered having been," he does not feel better. Realizing he can no longer use alcohol to escape certain truths is an important step toward finding peace with his life and moving beyond the war.

What purpose does the story of Brett's husband serve in Chapter 17 of The Sun Also Rises?

Mike's account of Brett's marriage to Ashley paints Brett in a more sympathetic light, somewhat offsetting her heedless, self-centered behavior toward Jake, Mike, Cohn, and Romero. The story of her marriage shows Brett, too, has faced her share of trauma; she was forced to sleep on the floor, fearing for her life, because her husband kept a loaded revolver beside the bed and threatened to shoot her. Though her harrowing past is not an excuse for Brett's careless behavior with her romantic partners, it does help the reader understand why she might not be able to commit to a serious relationship with a man.

In Chapter 18 of The Sun Also Rises, how does Hemingway draw parallels between Romero's bullfight and a sexual relationship?

The dance between the bullfighter Romero and the bull is like a seduction. For example Jake describes Romero "getting so close that the bull could see him plainly, offering the body, offering it again a little closer." The phrase "offering the body" calls to mind a sexual surrender. Jake then describes the moment when Romero kills the bull: "his left shoulder went forward between the horns as the sword went in, and for just an instant he and the bull were one." This image evokes the union of two people making love. Jake then goes on to note "the figure was broken"; it's unclear whether this broken figure is the bull or the fighter. This mirrors the devastating effects of love as experienced by Jake throughout the novel.

How does The Sun Also Rises meditate on the meaning of religion, and Catholicism in particular, following World War I?

The novel probes both the personal meaning of Catholicism to Jake and the larger role of religion after World War I. After Jake's war injury renders him impotent, he has trouble finding comfort in the guidance of the Catholic Church. In Chapter 4 he notes the church's advice is "not to think about it," a mandate he finds impossible to uphold. Later in Chapter 10 Jake admits he is a "rotten Catholic," perhaps because the religion brought him no solace in the wake of his war experiences. Hemingway also offers the image of "the broken skyline of the other churches" as a physical manifestation of the breakdown of the Catholic belief system after the war. Still, in Chapter 18 when Brett and Jake visit the church, Jake declares he is "pretty religious," a claim that shows his desire to reconnect to his faith.

In Chapter 18 of The Sun Also Rises, why does Jake say it seems as if "six people were missing" at dinner?

In Chapter 18 Jake, Mike, and Bill eat dinner together one final time on the last day of the fiesta; soon they will part ways and go back to their individual lives. By this point Brett has run off with Romero, a fact that greatly disturbs Mike and Jake, both of whom are in love with her. As the three men eat, Jake notes that it feels as if "six people were missing" from the dinner table. Though both Cohn and Brett are missing from the dinner, Jake most acutely feels Brett's absence; she has such a big personality and generates so much excitement and drama, she might well be six people rather than one.

Why does Hemingway include the scenes of Jake swimming in San Sebastian in Chapter 19 of The Sun Also Rises?

Chapter 19 includes two scenes in which Jake swims alone in the city of San Sebastian. Jake notes, "The water was buoyant and cold. It felt as though you could never sink." It's significant that these swims take place in the city where Brett and Cohn spent time together and made Jake terribly jealous. Jake's ability to feel peace in the water here symbolizes the state of equilibrium he has attained with Brett and Cohn. His ability to be alone, unplagued by despair over his war injury and unbothered by his unrequited love for Brett, signals Jake's evolution toward accepting himself and his past.

What does the final scene of The Sun Also Rises suggest about what Brett and Jake have learned during the course of the novel?

In the final scene Brett and Jake hire a taxi to take them around Madrid. Brett says, "I haven't seen Madrid. I should see Madrid." While in the car Brett presses close to Jake, and he responds by putting his arm around her. When Brett says, "Oh, Jake ... we could have had such a damned good time together," she hints at the life the two might have had if Jake had not been impotent. She is also making yet another attempt to engage Jake in her flirtatious games: a new city, a new go-round. This suggests Brett hasn't learned much at all from the novel's events and will likely continue playing games for a long time to come. On the other hand Jake's response—"Yes ... isn't it pretty to think so?"—shows he has finally come to see Brett's games for what they are and will no longer engage in them.

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