In The Sun Also Rises, what does Paris mean to Jake, Brett, and Robert?
The way these three characters relate to the city of Paris reveals much about their values and their identities. Robert Cohn, the idealist in the group, is constantly disappointed with reality. He becomes disenchanted with his first wife, bored with his mistress, and eventurally tires of Paris as well. He wants to leave Paris and travel to South America. Robert is constantly dissatisfied and looking for something new to bring him happiness, but nothing does.
For Jake, Paris is a welcome diversion in a crumbling world. He has been wounded in WWI and searches for ways to cope with his constant sense of meaninglessness. He spends evenings in bars, days working at a newspaper, and pursues meaning in the "meticulous details of life." He remains busy while not accomplishing much, and maintains a sense of external composure.
For Lady Brett Ashley, Paris is a place of refuge. She has left her abusive husband, who is a member of the British aristocracy, and embraces a bohemian lifestyle. Paris is a place of sexual freedom and few social rules; her constant search for adventure and escape shows how "lost" she truly is.