Book I, Chapter 4 Summary and Analysis
Mike Campbell: Brett’s fiance; rich but on an allowance; an alcoholic
Count Mippipopolous: a fat count at the Cafe Select
Zizi: a Greek portrait painter
Mr. and Mrs. Aloysius Kirby: send Jake a wedding announcement
Katherine Kirby: daughter who is getting married
Patronne’s daughter: owner of Cafe Select’s daughter who fights with Georgette
Madame Duzinell: concierge in Jake’s Paris flat
Liaison colonel: man in the war who came to see Jake after his war injury
In the taxi, Jake kisses Brett and she pushes far away from him. When he questions her, she says she cannot stand for him to touch her because she becomes sexually aroused but cannot be satisfied because of his impotence, which was caused by a war injury. She thinks this torture is life’s way of getting even with her because of the way she has treated other men.
They ride around before going to the Cafe Select. There they are reunited with their friends, except for Frances and Robert, who have left. Jake says he has a headache and returns to his room. He shows disdain for both Brett and his feelings for her. As he readies himself for bed, he reads bullfighting news. When he is in bed, he still mourns his injury and inability to perform. As he thinks about it, he cries.
After a while, he is awakened by noise. Brett is downstairs making a row to see him. She tells him the Count brought her here. He had offered her money to go away with him, but Brett had refused. She wants Jake to come and drink with her, but Jake says he has to work in the morning and she is too far ahead on drinks. As she leaves, Jake again feels sadness.
In this chapter, Brett is portrayed in a mixed light. On one hand, she is a cold woman who moves as far away from Jake as she can in the taxi. This is a stark contrast to how Georgette, though a prostitute, had been passionate and warm to Jake. Jake had rejected Georgette’s advances because of his impotence, and Brett rejects Jake’s for the same reason. On the other hand, we see a vulnerability in Brett because of her unhappiness. She wants Jake but ¬cannot ever have him because of his injury. Jake feels she “only wanted what she couldn’t have” and really does not love him. Her dual character is portrayed when she seems assertive and independent, although actually “she was afraid of so many things.” Her facade is down with Jake when, at the end of Chapter 3, she admits to being “miserable.” Jake says he can see through her exterior and “could see all the way into” her soul.
Hemingway states his theme when Brett says “…we pay for all the things we do.” If Brett is correct, her unhappiness is the result of her careless attitude with men. If Jake’s impotence, however, is his punishment for sins, the reader is not aware of it. Jake’s later actions, though, will necessitate penance. When Brett feels she is paying for what she has put men through, the idea of a higher power doling out justice is introduced.
Later, the religious aspect is further developed when Jake mentions the Catholic church and how priests handle the inability to perform sexually. The church tells them simply “not to think about it.” Jake sees that as ironic and sarcastically says that approach is unnatural.
The chapter makes many references to Jake’s impotence. He says people think it...
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