Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes
THE STORY - CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Brett and Count Mippipopolous visit Jake at his apartment. Brett wants to be alone with Jake, and sends the count off for champagne.
Do Brett and Jake try to make love again? There are gaps in the narrative-almost like frames edited from a movie-so it's hard to tell. In any case, Jake feels desperate and asks Brett if they couldn't live together. Brett can only answer, "I don't think so. I'd just tromper you with everybody. You couldn't stand it." (Tromper is a French word meaning to cheat or deceive.)
To prove that she can't be trusted she tells Jake that she's going away for a while-to San Sebastian in northern Spain. Jake wants to go with her, but she says he can't. She doesn't admit it, but she's going with someone else. A perceptive reader can probably guess with whom.
Back comes the count, loaded down with champagne. He has his own code, his own set of what he calls-"values," and he tells Jake and Brett about it.
Titles don't count for anything, he says; it's not whether you're a count or a princess that matters, but simply who you are. He also never plays people false. "Joke people and you make enemies," he says. The count's philosophy is to be straightforward with others.
Brett, unlike the count, plays false with others, and she says she has no friends except Jake. Why Jake? Because she is always honest with him. Their honesty, in fact, is their strongest bond.
Corks pop. The count's champagne is "amazing." When he spends money, he gets only the best. Brett calls him "one of us."
"One of us," to these expatriates, means being experienced, and having a wound, like a badge, to prove it. We already know about Jake's wound. What is Brett's? Evidently the way she has been treated by men. And the count's? He shows us, raising his shirt on "two raised white welts." He was shot by an arrow in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) years before. His is a very classy merit badge, proof that he belongs in the clique.
The count's value system is based on knowing what one should pay to get the most pleasure for one's money. He has no illusions that the pleasures of life are free, and is willing to pay liberally for everything he wants. In his pursuit of pleasure the count is similar to Jake and Brett. But although these values satisfy the count, they do not seem enough for the younger, more restless expatriates, or at least not for Jake and Brett, who are still trying to give some lasting meaning to their lives. Is the count really "one of us," as Brett says? Although the Americans who came to Paris after the war were turning their backs on the strict morality of prewar America and learning to enjoy pleasure for its own sake, they hadn't given up their search for truth. Such a search seems to be beyond the count's simple pursuit of pleasure.
In his typically lean style, Hemingway does not spell out the differences between the count's and Jake's value systems. You are left to decide what might be missing in the count's life, whether he has forfeited spontaneity, religion, permanent values, and profound love for a more comfortable system of trading upward in personal pleasure.
The count orders a bottle of 1811 brandy, the oldest in the house. Brett protests, but he insists. Nothing at that moment would give him more pleasure. We wonder if the brandy is being wasted on Jake and Brett, who demand different kinds of pleasure. Hemingway leaves us to answer such questions for ourselves.
After dinner the three of them go to a nightclub, where suddenly Jake feels terrible:
I had the feeling as in a nightmare of it all being something repeated, something I had been through and that now I must go through again.
What is being repeated are the endless, pointless rounds of drinking and dancing. Jake needs a vacation. And so Book I ends. In Book II the group will leave behind the decadent and tiresome thrills of Paris for the purer pleasures of Spain.