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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 18

Summary

At the café, the men eat lunch and drink beer. Jake notices that the crowd absorbs even the British tourists. Brett arrives radiant and happy. She asks if Cohn is gone. They tell her he has hired a car and left. She tries to lift her glass mug of beer, but her hand shakes so badly that she must take the first sip while it sits on the table. Mike taunts her about her boy friend and ends by upturning the table. Brett and Jake leave together to take a walk. She tells Jake that she feels altogether changed. She walks with Jake to San Fermin's chapel. Brett says she would like to go in and pray for Romero "or something." They go in the chapel and kneel, but soon, Brett stiffens and says "Let's get out." Jake reports that "The praying had not been much of a success." She says, "Don't know why I get so nervy in church. Never does me any good." Jake notes that he has not seen Brett happy since she went off with Cohn.

The two of them arrive back at the hotel, and Brett asks Jake to look after Mike. They pass Montoya on the stairs, and he bows but does not smile. After watching Brett go into Romero's room, he goes into Mike's room and finds it in great disarray. Mike is lying on the bed and wants Jake to stay, but Jake goes to his own room and finds Bill. They decide to go to lunch at another restaurant because the German headwaiter has been snobbish toward them. They eat at a restaurant full of men. Then they go to a café and to watch the fiesta. Brett joins them.


At the bull fight Jake sees through Brett's binoculars the three bullfighters, Romero, Belmonte and Marcial. He sees that Romero is badly marked and is looking straight ahead. Romero then presents his cape to Brett. The first fighter is Belmonte who has gotten thirty thousand pesetas for the fight and is, therefore, expected by the people to be superb even though he has just come out of retirement from the ring. Jake provides information about Belmonte, how he was especially known for having worked very close to the bulls and for killing over a thousand of them. He also notes that Bellmonte imposes conditions on the bullfight, the size of the bull, and the size of its horns. During his fight, the crowd turns against Belmonte and throws things at him.

The crowd is very much for Romero. Jake says Romero loved the bulls and obviously also loved Brett. He notes that Romero works close to where Brett sits, but does not look up at her. He provides a long description of Romero's fight, noting that he uses no tricks, no mystifications, and becomes one with the bull. He kills the bull directly below where Brett and the others are sitting. Romero cuts a notch of the bull's ear off and gives it to Brett. The crowd lifts Romero over their heads and runs toward the gate.

Bill, Brett, and Jake go back to the hotel, and then Bill and Jake go to the café for a drink. Bill says that he feels sorry about Cohn. Jake predicts that Cohn will "pick up his old girl." He also tells Bill that he feels "low as hell," and then proceeds to get very drunk. When he returns to the hotel, he sees Mike who tells him Brett has gone off with Romero. Jake says, "No." Jake sleeps and then goes down to dinner with Mike and Bill. "The three of us sat at the table, and it seemed as though about six people wear missing."

Notes

The portrait of Brett shows her further ignobled. Hemingway reserves all the most negative aspects of alcoholism for Brett. While all the men drink to excess, it is only Brett who displays the signs of delirium tremens when she has gone the night without drinking and her hand shakes so much as a result that she cannot pick up her glass. Brett is also repelled by churches. While Jake is not conventionally religious, he does have a connection to spirituality even though he does not articulate it.

Jake's real religion is his devotion to bullfighting. He notices every detail of the preparations for the fight, and it is described in almost religious terms. The servants ceremoniously and reverently carry and unroll the capes of the bullfighters. The matadors enter with a host of followers in a solemn procession. For Jake and the Spanish people, the bullfight is almost holy as it pits man's grace and courage against impending death.

Jake's description of the contrast between Belmonte and Romero is also telling. Belmonte does not know when to retire. He builds up expectations and fails miserably to provide the crowd with any thrills even though he is still accomplished in his art. Romero, on the other hand, is splendid in spite of his wounds from his fight with Cohn. He is a master of the art of bullfighting and concentration. He does not concern himself with making a show, but only with his relationship with the bull in the moment of the fight. The Spanish crowd adores him.

Jake has maintained control up until this point in the novel. Here he becomes very drunk and must be alone. He has lost his connection to the aficionados and he has lost Brett as well. He feels truly miserable.

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