Book I, Chapters 5-6 Summary and Analysis
Woolsey: a reporter from the press conference
Krum: a reporter from the press conference
Harvey Stone: an American; a drunken friend of Jake’s
George: barman at the Hotel Crillon
Robert’s secretary: worked on the magazine with Robert; left her for Frances
Paula: woman who was supposed to meet Frances for lunch
The next morning Jake walks to his office among the working class. After putting in a good morning at work, he goes to a press conference. On the way back, he shares a taxi with a couple of other reporters. When he returns to the office, Robert is waiting. They go to a restaurant to have hors d’oeuvres and small talk. Conversation turns to Frances and how Robert has certain obligations to her. Then Robert begins to pump him about Brett.
Jake tells Robert that Brett was his nurse in the war when he was injured. She is now married to the titled Lord Ashley from whom she is getting a divorce so she can marry Mike Campbell. Jake tries saying things about Brett to discourage Robert. Jake tells some history of how Brett was working in the hospital during the war and lost her true love. When Robert perceives Jake has insulted Brett, he gets angry.
After lunch, Jake works, but when he goes to meet Brett, she does not show up. He then goes to the Cafe Select and meets Harvey Stone, who hints for Jake to give him money. Robert shows up, and there is a conflict between he and Harvey. Robert says he is displaying signs of writer’s block.
While they are waiting, Frances comes and asks Jake to join her. She tells Jake that Robert wants to leave her under pretense of getting material for a new book. She says now she will not be able to find anyone else who will have her. When they go back to Robert, she insults him mercilessly. She tells Jake about a secretary at the magazine whom Robert had dumped for Frances. Jake cannot believe Robert is taking humiliation from Frances. He leaves while Frances is still insulting Robert.
In these chapters, Robert shows he has fallen in love with Brett and certain changes are happening. For example, Robert has “decided he hasn’t lived enough.” He no longer cares about tennis, he wants to leave Francis, and he has conflicts with people with whom he did not have problems before. This romance is significant for him because until he falls in love, nothing in his life makes him stand out. Brett gives him identity.
Robert’s idea of romance presented in an earlier chapter is instrumental in making him fall so hard for Brett. Jake wonders if Robert really enjoys Paris but says he does not because he gets his likes and dislikes from an author named Mencken. He also says Robert has been molded by “the two women who had trained him” and now his character is to be molded by Brett or by her apathy toward him.
Frances comments on his inability to be an independent thinker when she says he does not like a writer his friends said was bad. She also notes that part of his hesitance about marrying her is for the romance of having a mistress. She observes that once
they marry their relationship will no longer be the romance he longs for.
Robert is a “case of arrested development.” He wants to play football, which is fine for an 18-year-old but not a 34-year-old. He just accepts Frances’ humiliating him rather than being angry. This lack of character is part of the reason for conflict emerging between Jake and Robert. Robert has a “boyish sort of cheerfulness” that is the innocence Jake has lost and now resents in Robert.
(The entire section is 968 words.)