Illustration of a bull and a bullfighter

The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

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Book I, Chapter 1 Summary

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Last Updated April 14, 2023.

Robert Cohn is portrayed as a significant figure in the story, who has a lot of uncertainties in his life. During his time at Princeton, he resorted to boxing as a means of protecting himself from the insecurities associated with being Jewish. Despite being outmatched, he continued to box, and although he did not enjoy the sport, he appreciated the sense of authority it bestowed upon him. He seems to have been relatively forgettable during his time at Princeton, as no one seems to recall him from that period.

Due to his timid nature, he decided to wed the first girl who showed him kindness. However, this decision led to an unhappy marriage, and despite having three children together, he eventually lost a significant portion of his inheritance. In the end, his wife abandoned him, causing him great devastation.

Following his divorce, he moves to California and becomes involved with people in the literary scene. Despite having limited funds, he invests in a publication focused on the arts. Frances, a domineering woman who desires social advancement, takes him under her wing. When he can no longer afford to continue the magazine, Frances seizes what she can and persuades him to travel to Europe, where she hopes Robert will write. They spend three years abroad, mostly in Paris, during which time Robert befriends two individuals: Braddocks and Jake.

Frances decides that Robert should marry her as she is aging and her looks start to decline. As a result, her attitude changes from indifference to possessiveness and envy. During dinner, Robert kicks Jake under the table to prevent him from bringing up another woman since Frances is so jealous. As they part ways, he is concerned that Jake might be upset.

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Book I, Chapter 2 Summary