Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Robert Cohn, a Jewish writer living in Paris in the 1920’s. He and Jacob Barnes are friends, though Barnes delights in needling him. Cohn seems to mean well, but he has a talent for irritating all of his acquaintances. When Cohn meets Lady Brett Ashley, he immediately brushes off Frances Clyne, his mistress, and spends a few days at San Sebastian with Brett. He now feels that she is his property, though she plans to marry Michael Campbell. Cohn has the temerity to join a group from Paris (including Brett and Michael) going to the fiesta in Pamplona, Spain. Brett is smitten by a young bullfighter and sleeps with him. Cohn, reputedly once a middleweight boxing champion at Princeton, gives the bullfighter a pummeling. Cohn’s personality has many contradictions: In general, he is conceited but is unsure of himself as a writer; he seems both obtuse and sensitive; and he evokes pity from his acquaintances, yet they all thoroughly dislike him.
Jacob (Jake) Barnes
Jacob (Jake) Barnes, the narrator, an American expatriate also living in Paris, where he works as a correspondent for a newspaper. In World War I, he was wounded in the groin and as a result is sexually impotent. This injury negates the love he has for Brett and her love for him. Seeming to work very little, Barnes spends a great deal of time in cafés, drinking and talking. His greatest problems in life are trying to adjust himself to the nature of his injury and trying to work out some sort of personal philosophy; two of his thoughts almost...
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