Compare Bill and Jake's comments on surroundings with Cohn's for appropriateness. How is this indicative of the way Robert and Jake approach life? How does this impact the deterioration of Jake and...

Compare Bill and Jake's comments on surroundings with Cohn's for appropriateness. How is this indicative of the way Robert and Jake approach life? How does this impact the deterioration of Jake and Robert's relationship?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conversations among the characters in this novel are indicative of the Lost Generation’s dissatisfaction with life that they cannot seem to escape. In Chapter VIII, Frances has left for England and Bill has sent Jake a card stating that he has left Paris for the countryside. Nevertheless, they all seem to reunite in Chapter IX although Britt has wondered is it will not be a bit "rough" on Cohn. But, he has written Jake and says he will come along.

Of course, Jake is not pleased to learn that Robert Cohn and Brett have had a rendez-vous San Sebastian, so their conversations become rather terse as they drive to Pamplona, Spain. Curiously, Jake refers to Bill always by his first name, but when he alludes to Robert, he uses his last name as though he really does not know the man. And, Cohn is nervous, wondering if Jake and Bill know that he has been to San Sebastian with Brett. When the carabineer stops them at the border, Cohn can only point and gesture to communicate, but Jake speaks to the border guard, asking if he fishes, and "the carabineer said "no, that he didn't care for it." Then, while they drive through "grassy plains, clear streams and a gloomy little village," Robert Cohn is asleep.

When they arrive at the Montoya hotel, Senor Montoya is there to greet them. They eat lunch in the lower dining-room.

Robert Cohn tried to say he did not want any of the second meat course, but we would not interpret for him, and so the waitress brought him something else as a replacement, a plate of cold meats, I think. Cohn had been rather nervous ever since we had met at Bayonne. 

Jake adds that Robert wondered whether they knew he had been with Brett in San Sebastian. "It made him rather awkward." Then, when Bill mentions that Brett and Mike will be coming soon, Cohn declares, "I rather think they're not coming," Jake is annoyed at his air of "superior knowledge." Bill challenges him with a bet. on whether Brett and Mike will come and the tone becomes tense, but Jake intervenes. Later, Bill admits that he bet Cohn because he did not like his superior attitude. When Jake sees Cohn returning, Bill says, "Well, let him not get superior and Jewish." 

At dinner, Cohn is nervous; he has gone to the barber and is clean and neat. Jake comments, "He was nervous and I did not try to help him." When he gets up to look for Brett, Bill stays, but Jake accompanies him to the station because he "was enjoying his nervousness." When they get to the station, there is a telegram from Brett saying that they will come the next day. Jake puts it in his pocket and does not show it to Cohn.

Why I felt that impulse to devil him I do not know.Of course I do know. I was blind, unforgivingly jealous of what had happened to him.The fact that I took it as a matter of course did not alter it any. I certainly did hate him.

Oddly enough, Bill and Cohn stay out late that night. When Jake sees them the next day, he talks privately with Bill, who teases Jake again about his Jewish friends, but admits that he is nice, too, except that they were out until two o'clock. "Was he very bad?" asks Jake. "Awful.. What's all this about Brett, anyway?" When Jake tells him, Bill comments, "What bloody-fool things people do. Why didn't she go off with some of her own people?...Why not me?" Then, he washes his face and declares, "And as for this Robert Cohn,...he makes me sick and he can go to hell and I'm damn glad he's staying here so we won't have him fishing with us." Jake strongly agrees.

Read the study guide:
The Sun Also Rises

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