Illustration of a bull and a bullfighter

The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

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Book II, Chapter 17 Summary

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Last Updated April 14, 2023.

Jake comes across Mike, Bill, and Edna outside a bar, where they inform him that they were kicked out due to excessive drinking. They had a dispute with some people from England and their behavior became unruly.

They visit a cafe to have some beverages. Robert joins them and inquires about Brett's whereabouts. Despite Jake's attempts to avoid answering, Robert persists. When Jake declines to reveal Brett's location, Robert becomes anxious. Mike eventually tells Robert that Brett has left with Romero. In response, Robert becomes furious and accuses Jake of being a pimp. Jake throws a punch at Robert, but he manages to evade it. Robert hits Jake multiple times, causing him to fall to the ground. He also strikes Mike before departing the scene.

Jake is bewildered by the events that just occurred and decides to go for a walk to clear his mind. Even though he's walking in a familiar area, he perceives the night as if it's his first time experiencing it. When Jake eventually returns to the hotel, Bill informs him that Robert is upset and wants to speak with him. Initially, Jake declines, but eventually, he agrees and goes to Robert's room where he discovers him in tears. Robert begs Jake for forgiveness, admitting that he was irrational and unable to cope with Brett's rejection. Brett treated him as a stranger and has now left with Romero, causing Robert to vow to leave the next day.

Jake departs from Robert's room and heads for a bath. He subsequently dozes off and upon awakening, he proceeds to observe the bulls charging into the ring. Due to the dense crowd, Jake is forced against a wall. A few individuals are unable to enter the ring before the bulls, and Jake witnesses one man being impaled. Later on, Romero kills the same bull, presenting Brett with its ear. Jake can only discern the number of individuals who were struck or narrowly avoided the bulls by gauging the crowd's response.

Upon Jake's return to his room, Mike and Bill arrive and make remarks about Jake's injuries inflicted by Robert. They inform him about the events that took place in the ring, revealing that after hitting them, Robert found Brett in Romero's room and attempted to harm him. Despite being repeatedly knocked down by Robert, Romero refused to give up. Brett reprimanded Robert for his actions, which resulted in him crying and apologizing. Robert then tried to make amends by offering to shake Romero's hand, but Romero declined. Robert promised not to hit him again, prompting Romero to retaliate by delivering a powerful blow to Robert.

Mike suggests that one of the issues could be that Brett selects the wrong kind of men. He goes on to mention how unsatisfied Brett was in her marriage with Lord Ashley. Before retiring to his room, Mike requests the maid to bring him more beer.

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