Book II, Chapter 18 Summary and Analysis

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Belmonte: a retired bullfighter who returned to the ring

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On the last day of the fiesta, Brett stops by, gets a beer, and asks if Robert has gone. She asks Jake how he feels. She tells him Robert has hurt Romero badly. Mike, who is drinking, has been silent. He starts ridiculing Brett for her affairs with Romero and Robert. Brett asks Jake to take a walk. She is radiant and shows adoration and concern for Romero. She also says his people disapprove of her. They stop in a church to say prayers for Romero.

When they get back to the hotel, she joins Romero in his room for lunch. Jake goes to Mike’s room and finds him trying to sleep off his drunkenness. Bill and Jake eat at a restaurant and talk little. Brett joins them when they are finished.

The three of them go to the bullring and sit together. For this final day, the president is in attendance and lots of pomp and circumstance accompanies it. When the matadors come into the ring, Romero is in the center. His hat is low to cover bruises from Robert. The matadors go into the ring and bow in front of the president’s box. Then, Romero hands his gold-brocade cape to his sword handler who hands it to Brett.

Belmonte is first. His fight is without much drama, and the crowd is actively against him. He is not interested in Marcial but rather in Romero whose popularity has hurt his coming out of retirement. Romero does his fighting the way Belmonte cannot anymore. Marcial performs next.

Romero fights next. He works perfectly despite the bull’s poor vision and the injury he suffered from Robert’s beating. The crowd wants another bull, but Pedro fights this one. Romero lets the bull pass close by, and it is very dangerous. But the crowd feels cheated and is against Romero for this fight. Marcial is next and has the crowd ecstatic.

Romero’s last bull is the one that killed Vincente in the morning. It is a good bull that works easily and charges well. Although Romero works smoothly and efficiently, when he begins to kill it, the crowd wants him to continue. He does. When he finally kills the bull, Romero gives the ear to Brett. The crowd is so enthralled with Romero they mob him and lift him to their shoulders.

After the bullfight, the group goes back to the hotel to eat and drink. Bill expresses interest in how Robert is doing and where he will go. Jake says he does not care, but he works hard to get drunk to feel better. Jake goes to his room feeling drunker than he ever has. He sticks his head in Brett’s room. Mike tells him Brett has gone off with Romero. Jake lies down but cannot sleep. When he joins Mike and Bill, the dining room seems vacant.

Chapter 18, not told in true chronological order, is the end of the fiesta and focuses on the last bullfighting day. Jake contrasts the three bullfighters’ styles.

First, the oldest, and at one time most respected, is Belmonte. He is a bullfighter of great renown who has come out of retirement but cannot live up to his own reputation. He is sick now and picks and chooses easier bulls. Now he occasionally has great moves in the ring, but even Belmonte does not consider them of any value because he has chosen bulls in advance.

Marcial is a fighter with whom Belmonte feels no competition. Though he is the one Belmonte came out of retirement for, he knows Marcial is no competitor because he only goes through the motions and does not fight with sincerity of aficiónados. Though Marcial has a good day and the crowd is with him, he is not Belmonte’s rival. Belmonte watches Romero, not Marcial.

Belmonte’s performance is an “imitation of himself” and Marcial’s is an “imitation of Belmonte,” but Romero is pure bullfighting. Romero’s natural flair has fans on his side. His style is so intense he has spoiled Belmonte’s return to the ring.

Romero moves like the old style fighters,...

(The entire section contains 1150 words.)

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