Jake Barnes meets Robert Cohn in Paris shortly after World War I. Somehow Jake always thinks Cohn typical of the place and the time. Cohn, the son of wealthy Jewish parents, was once the middleweight boxing champion of Princeton, and he never wants anyone to forget that fact. After leaving college, he married and lived unhappily with his wife until she ran off with another man. Then, he met some writers in California and decided to start a little, arty review. He also met Frances Clyne, who became his mistress. When Jake knows Cohn, he and Frances are living unhappily in Paris, where Cohn is writing his first novel. Cohn writes and boxes and plays tennis, and he is always careful not to mix his friendships. A man named Braddocks is his literary friend. Jake is his tennis friend.
Jake is an American newspaperman who fought with the Italians during the war. His own private tragedy is a war wound that emasculated him so that he can never marry Lady Brett Ashley, a young English war widow with whom he is in love. So as not to think too much about himself, Jake spends a lot of time listening to the troubles of his friends and drinking heavily. When he grows tired of Paris, he goes on fishing trips to the Basque country or to Spain for the bullfights.
One night, feeling lonely, Jake asks Georgette, a prostitute, to join him in a drink at the Café Napolitain. They dine on the Left Bank, where Jake meets a party of his friends, including Cohn and Frances. Later, Brett comes in with a group of young men. Cohn is attracted to her, and Frances is jealous. Brett refuses to dance with Cohn, however, saying that she has a date with Jake in Montmartre. Leaving a fifty-franc note with the café proprietor for Georgette, Jake leaves in a taxi with Brett for a ride to the Parc Montsouris. They talk for a time about themselves without mentioning Jake’s injury, though they both think of it. At last, Brett asks Jake to drive her back to the Café Select.
The next day, Cohn corners Jake and asks him about Brett. Later, after drinking with Harvey Stone, another expatriate, on the terrace of the Café Select, Jake meets Cohn and Frances, who announces that her lover is dismissing her by sending her off to London. She abuses and taunts Cohn while he sits quietly without replying. Jake is embarrassed. The same day, he receives a telegram from his old friend Bill Gorton, announcing his arrival on the France. Brett goes on a trip to San Sebastian with Cohn; she thinks the excursion will be good for him.
Jake and Bill plan to go to Spain for the trout fishing and the bullfights at Pamplona. Michael Campbell, an Englishman whom Brett is to marry, also arrives in Paris. He and Brett arrange to join...
(The entire section is 1113 words.)