To Ernest Hemingway--the ultimate macho writer who lived the life of many of his characters--what could be a more macho sport than bullfighting? And for his character Jake Barnes, a handsome man with strong sexual desires but who is impotent because of a war wound, bullfighting provides him the same macho thrills that the author must have felt. Bullfighting creates an exciting distraction for Jake, one that assures the certainty of death or injury to at least one of its participants. The matador is the most glamorous of all athletes in Spain, and their colorful garb and ability to both face and wield death make them the envy of both men and women. The ferocious bull reflects a virility that Jake must envy; it has its way with steers before the match and always has the chance to save itself by besting the matador. During the running of the bulls through the streets, people run in fear from the rampaging animals. For Jake it is a release from his lost way of life in Paris, and a substitute for the romantic adventures that he can no longer experience.
Bullfighting also enacts the Hemingway code of the man behaving with grace under pressure. Romero does this. He is deliberate, humble, knowledgeable and does not flinch. He faces danger with understanding and dignity. He shows honor, courage, and endurance without complaint. It is no wonder he shows sexual power as well.