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Free Study Guide-The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 4

Summary

In the cab, Jake and Brett kiss and then she turns away and presses into the corner of the seat away from him. She pleads with him not to touch her, for she does not want to be tempted and frustrated. Jake casually asks, "Don't you love me?" In response, she admits she turns to jelly whenever he touches her. He bemoans their situation and inquires, "Isn't there anything we can do about it?" She returns to his embrace and looks at him. Jake says Brett has a deep way of looking that makes him wonder whether she really sees out of her own eyes. She looks as if there is nothing she would not look at, and in reality, she is afraid of so many things.

Jake decides they should not go through the torment again of trying to find a solution to their sexual dilemma. Brett objects that she wants to be with him and that sex is not all there is to their love. He responds that it always comes back to sex. After admitting to her own fault in that, Brett asks, "Don't we always pay for all the things we do?" She adds that she is paying now for all the times she has made men suffer for wanting her sexually, and ironically she cannot now fully have the man she really loves. Jake lies and tells her he never thinks about what has happened to him, for nothing can be done to remedy it. He also cynically adds that it is very funny to be in love. She responds, "No, I think it's hell on earth." They finally decide that they must stay away from each other in order to end the torment, and, as if to seal their agreement, they sit for awhile like two strangers in the taxi. But Brett cannot resist. On the way to the cafe, she once again asks Jake to kiss her.


At the cafe, they find the same group that was at the bar. Brett joins in with her friends and is introduced to Count Mippipopolous, who is buying champagne for everyone. Jake is called to the Braddock's table where they tell him that Georgette got into a big argument back at the bar. Jake has no interest in staying at the cafe, but before leaving, he arranges to meet Brett at five o'clock the next afternoon at the Crillon, for he really wants to see her again. Because he knows she in not very dependable, he reminds her to really try and be there. She answers with a question. "I've never let you down, have I?" The implication is that Jake has let her down since she loves him and is available to him, but he cannot perform for her.

Jake goes back to his apartment. He retrieves his mail, which includes a bank statement that he quickly and methodically balances to $1832.60, and a wedding announcement from people whom he does not know. The crest on the announcement reminds him of Brett, who is titled, and he says to himself, "To hell with you, Lady Ashley." As he undresses for bed, he looks at himself in the mirror and thinks ruefully, "Of all the ways to be wounded." He blames no one for his injury, but is obviously very bothered by it. To take his mind off his troubles, Jake reads every line of a bullfighting newspaper that he has. He then tries to sleep, but finds that he can only think about the old grievance of his wound. He remembers being told by the Italian officer about his wound, which to the Italian was more serious than losing his life. Jake decides that Brett makes his problem worse; his convalescence would have been more complete if he had not run into her again back in England. He admits that Brett really only wants what she cannot have, but he cannot dismiss her from his thoughts and longing. He wishes he could follow the Catholic dogma and simply not think about women (Brett in particular) or about sex, but it is not possible. Sleep still evades Jake with his mind "jumping around." He thinks more about Brett, and his mind starts "to go in sort of smooth waves." Finally he cries and goes to sleep.

Jake is awakened by his concierge telling him that a woman is downstairs waking the neighborhood. It is Brett. She talks to Jake about the Count, says he owns a chain of sweatshops in the United States, calls him "one of us," and explains that he has offered her ten thousand dollars to go to Biarritz with him. Jake responds by taking a long drink from his brandy and soda. Brett goes on to say that she has told the Count that she is in love with Jake, and now she wants Jake to go with her to Biarritz. He refuses her offer, and they kiss good night. Brett, as always, shivers at his touch. As she leaves, Jake reminds Brett that she does not have to go, but she knows she must. After kissing again, he goes upstairs and watches Brett leave in the Count's limousine. On the table, he notices an empty glass and a glass half full. He empties them into the sink and gets into bed. He ponders to himself, "This was the Brett that I had felt like crying about." Then he thinks of watching her get into the car and says, "It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing."

Notes

The scenes between Jake and Brett reveal that Jake is not the only one with a wound. Brett, too, is wounded. According to Jake, she cannot love. Jake physically cannot love, and Brett cannot commit emotionally to a serious, long-term relationship. Hemingway has, thus, set up the theme of unrequited love that runs throughout the novel.

Jake believes strongly in not thinking or talking about the things that bother him, but all he can do is think about his problems, as evidenced by his not being able to sleep for thinking of his wound and of Brett. In Jake's mind, the two are totally interrelated. If he were not wounded, he believes he could have Brett; now she is only an impossible quest for him. Jake has been analyzed by some critics as a modern version of the Fisher King of ancient mythology. Like the Fisher King, he is impotent, and his impotence is reflected in the wasteland of his surroundings. To rise above his wound and his surroundings, he must go on a quest to restore himself.

In the last scene in Jake's room, after Brett has left, Hemingway provides what has been termed an objective correlative: the empty glass and the glass half-full. A term coined by T.S. Eliot to describe a modernist literary innovation, the objective correlative is an image, which objectively pictures what the characters are feeling. It enables the writer to avoid the sentimentality of describing emotions while still being able to relate their reality. The two glasses are the images of the two main characters. Jake is half-full; he still loves, but cannot act. Brett is empty and incapable of love.

Hemingway's unique style of writing is again revealed in this chapter. It is studiedly simple and understated. Jake's thoughts are represented in simple sentences with coordinating conjunctions like "and" or "and then," rather than more complex subordinating conjunctions like "because" or "for this reason." This simplicity of style is a method of curbing the emotional mood, flattening it out, making the surface seem very simple and controlled, so that what is under the surface is presumed to be full of barely suppressed intensity. With coordinating conjunctions, no judgment is made; only facts are related and the connections among facts are left to be guessed by the reader.

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