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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 13

Summary

Jake gets a letter from Michael from San Sebastian saying that they are delayed because Brett passed out on the train. He adds that he is trying to look out for Brett, but that it is not easy. Jake also receives a telegram from Robert Cohn saying he will come on Thursday. Jake decides he and Bill must leave Burquet quickly, for he does not want Cohn to arrive and spoil the place.

Jake and Bill walk to a monastery with Harris, a new acquaintance from England. They note that the monastery is a remarkable place, but not as good as fishing. The men enjoy one another, and Harris is invited to visit Pamplona with them; he declines, however, saying he wants to stay in Burguete and continue fishing. Before Jake and Bill board the bus, Harris gives them his address in London and envelopes containing fishing flies.

Jake and Bill arrive at Pamplona, go to the Hotel Montoya, and learn the others have already arrived. Jake asks Montoya about the bulls, which makes the man smile. "Montoya always smiled as though bull-fighting were a very special secret between the two of us....It would not do to expose it to people who would not understand." When Montoya asks if Bill is an aficionado. Jake says yes; but Montoya places his hand on Jake's shoulder and says "not like you." Jake then explains that aficion means passion, and aficionados are passionate about bullfights. He adds that aficionados always determine whether a newcomer is one of them through "a sort of oral spiritual examination." Jake further explains that Montoya could forgive anything of a bullfighter who had aficion. Montoya also forgives Jake all his friends, even Brett, Mike and Cohn; but Montoya judges them as unworthy of Jake.

When Jake finds Bill up in the room, he explains the running of the bulls and how steers are often sacrificed to the beasts, sometimes gored to death. Then they go out to the café Iruña, where they see Brett, Mike, and Cohn. Brett urges Mike to tell everyone his story about his war medals. Reluctantly, Mike tells of being invited to a state dinner in London where medals were to be worn. He asked his tailor to give him some for the occasion. Later that night at a club, he gave all the medals away to women.


The group leaves the restaurant and walks through the town. At the bull corrals, they climb up the ladder and watch as the first animal is released. Brett exclaims, "Isn't he beautiful?" Jake tells her the bull uses his horns with a left and a right hook, just like a boxer. A second bull is released and charges into a steer; the steer goes down in pain. Jake tells Brett not to look, but she watches with fascination. She has taken to the bulls and even noticed when one shifted from its left to its right horn. One of the remaining steers makes friends with the second bull and takes it to join the first one. When a third bull is released, the steer performs the same function and makes it one of the herd. Jake explains that the steers normally calm down the bulls and that the bulls are only dangerous when they are alone.

After watching the caged bulls, the party takes a carriage to a café, where the inebriated Mike taunts Cohn, who has continued to brag about his episode with Brett. Mike finally tells him it is no big event that Brett slept with him because she has slept with lots of better people than he. He also teases Cohn for never getting drunk, for tagging along after Brett, and for his exclusion from the social scene in San Sebastian. Everyone is embarrassed by Mile's attack. To cool the situation, Bill takes Cohn away. Brett then scolds Mike by telling him he has had poor behavior and saying, "We were all friends together." Brett is genuinely irritated, for to her, like Jake, good behavior is the second most important virtue next to courage. She knows that a real man will always display grace under pressure, but Mike often fails to do this. Mike next complains to Jake about Cohn's having followed Brett around. He admits that "Brett's gone off with men. But they weren't ever Jews." A while later, they walk back to the hotel and decide to act with Cohn as if nothing had happened.

Before going upstairs at the hotel, Jake talks to Montoya about the bulls and learns that the Spaniard is dissatisfied with them. Then Jake goes up to his room to find Bill. Bill is very disturbed by Mike's behavior and resolves to help keep Mike from getting so drunk again. Even Jake admits that Mike is not a "good drunk"; after drinking, he grows loud and mean, never fun. Jake then admits that he was pleased when Mike teased Cohn. (Remember, Jake is very jealous that Cohn was able to sleep with Brett when he cannot.)

Jake and Bill go to supper, which is pleasant. Cohn joins them and feels cheerful when he sees Brett looking beautiful as always. As the group gathers, Jake feels an uneasiness about everyone being together at the fiesta. To alleviate he nervousness about the situation, Jake drinks too much and muses that this dinner is like the ones he remembers from the war. "There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you couldn't prevent happening."

Notes

The fishing trip, important as a calm interlude between Paris and Pamplona, has provided a communion with nature and a sense of peace for Jake. In fact, all three of the men, Jake, Bill, and Harris, have a reverence for fishing, saying it is more special and beautiful than the monastery that they visit. As a result of the fishing, Jake leaves Baquet renewed, refreshed, and ready for the excitement of Pamplona and the bullfights. The purpose of this chapter is to set the stage for bullfighting.

Jake and Bill arrive in Pamplona and go to Hotel Montoya, where the owner greets them. Montoya is like a priest, laying hands on those whom he knows to be aficionados of bull fighting. Jake is recognized as an aficionado, a unique position for an American to obtain. He has a true passion for the sport, thus becoming "one of them." It is important to note that Montoya "blesses" Jake two times. Like everyone in the book who knows Jake, Montoya seems to genuinely like and admire him. As a result, he forgives Jake for his tacky friends, who Montoya knows are not of the same caliber as Jake. He also knows that Jake has a deep passion for bullfighting and is able to see it as an art.

The code of behavior for an aficionado is explained; it involves certain spiritual qualities, especially grace under pressure, where a person is able to handle himself with dignity in the worst of situations. The bullfighter must have grace under pressure if he is to stay calm and master the bull that charges him. To Hemingway and Jake, the ability to stay calm is of key importance in life, and the grace of the true sportsman is what attracts them both to bullfighting and other sports where intense danger is involved.

It is also important for aficionados of bullfighting to take the art seriously and not expose it to outsiders. The implication seems to be that if Jake could live up to the standards of the aficionado, he could overcome his wound. Part of the attraction of the spectacle of the bull fight is the ritual facing of the fear of death, a fear that Jake must have faced when he was injured during the war, and which he must face daily since he cannot become symbolically immortal by having children. The success of the bullfight depends on how one controls the encounter with death.

The conversation about steers is significant for metaphorical purposes. The steer serves as a buffer to the bulls and is often sacrificed to them. Hemingway seems to be making a correspondence between the animals and the men, and Mike is quick to say Cohn acts the steer, as he is used and abused. In this chapter, Mike "gores" Cohn the hardest. Cohn has been very proud of the fact that he slept with Brett, but Mike strips his pride of the event, telling Cohn that Brett has slept with many men and it is no big deal. Even Jake derides Cohn in the chapter. Brett and Mike are in the spirit of the fiesta and wear Spanish berets as a symbol of their proclivity to join in and have fun. On the other hand, Jake notes that Cohn is bareheaded and is obviously unable to "feel" the place or be excited about it. Such inabilities are why Jake wanted to leave Burquete before Cohn arrived there to spoil the place. It is also important to note that Jake always refers to Cohn by his last name, in a very impersonal, non-caring manner; Jake, however, calls the others by their given names - Mike, Brett, and Bill. It is just one more way of Cohn not fitting in, not belonging. But the main thing that seems to set Cohn off as different is his Jewishness, but the others seldom mention it in the book. Mike, however, makes an anti-semitic remark about Cohn, just as Bill Gorton did earlier. Hatred of Jews seems to be an ideology all the men resort to in justifying their annoyance with Cohn.

Mike is once again drunk in this chapter; it is his inebriated state that causes him to attack Cohn with such cruelty. Even Jake, who is very tolerant of wild parties, drunkenness, and waywardness, admits that Mike is not a good drunk; instead, he becomes loud and mean. Mike's shallowness is also developed in the chapter in his story about the medals. Wanting to impress the guests at a dinner he was attending, he had his tailor sew some medals on his jacket, giving the appearance of something he was not. After the dinner, he went to a nightclub where he gave all of the medals away to the women who surrounded him. It is a pathetic story, but Brett thinks it is funny and asks Mike to retell it for the others to hear. The story, therefore, reconfirms the misplaced values of both Mike and Brett. Ironically, Brett understands the code of "grace under pressure" which she knows that Mike does not possess. In fact, both of them drink too much to ever have the necessary grace to realistically stand up to a problem.

The unloading of the bulls is also significant to the chapter. Brett, who has never seen a bull fight, is particularly fascinated with the brute animals, almost sensing a sexuality about them. She describes them as "beautiful", not a normal adjective for a bull. She also does not turn away from the blood and gore caused by the bull when it attacks the steer. Instead, she is amazed by the bulls' movements and sees artistry in them using first one horn and then the other to charge and attack. Unlike Brett, Cohn thinks the animals are a little weak in spirit and adapt too easily. Since Cohn is weak and passive himself, it is not surprising he would attribute those characteristics to the bulls.

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