The Sun Also Rises Additional Summary

Ernest Hemingway


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

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.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Hemingway’s characters in The Sun Also Rises are much like the people with whom he came into daily contact in Paris in the early 1920’s. A large group of expatriates, labeled by Stein “the lost generation,” lived by their wits, by what jobs they could find, or by handouts from home. So it is with the characters in Hemingway’s novel.

The story revolves around two Americans—Jake Barnes, a newspaperman whose war injury has made him impotent, and Robert Cohn, who boxed well enough at Princeton University that he became the university’s middleweight boxing champ. Cohn, the son of a wealthy Jewish family, married when he left college and lived combatively with his wife until she left him for someone else. Then he drifted to California and salved his postmarital wounds by founding an avant-garde review and settling in with Frances Clyne as his mistress.

Cohn and Frances are living in Paris when Jake first meets him, shortly after the armistice. Cohn has come to Paris to work on his first novel. He has a social life that includes his writing but that compartmentalizes his two other principal activities, boxing and tennis. Cohn’s groups of friends do not spill over onto one another. His boxing friends are his boxing friends. They know neither his tennis friends nor his friends who read and write. Cohn’s life is neatly arranged.

Jake is in love with a British war widow, Lady Brett Ashley, but his impotence makes marriage unthinkable for them. Jake sublimates by listening to his friends complain while he sits in bars drinking enormously. When this life begins to wear on him, Jake escapes to the Pyrenees and luxuriates in trout fishing in the fast-moving streams of the Basque country, or he goes to Spain for the bullfights, of which he is an aficionado.

One dismal night, Jake takes a prostitute to the Café Napolitain for a drink and conversation. They go on to have dinner at a restaurant on the Left Bank, where they happen upon Robert Cohn and Frances, as well as some of Jake’s other friends. In the course of the evening, Lady Brett comes in, trailing young swains behind her. It is soon evident that Robert Cohn is much taken by her. Lady Brett rebuffs Robert, refusing to join him for dinner, saying that she has a date with Jake. She and Jake leave together. They avoid any mention of Jake’s emasculating injury, but it is clearly on both of their minds, setting up the tension...

(The entire section is 998 words.)

Extended Summary

First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises concerns a group of Americans living in Europe during the 1920s. The narrator and principal character is Jake Barnes, a newspaper correspondent. The leading female character is Lady Brett Ashley. In the course of the novel, we learn that her husband, a British officer, was killed in World War I and that she was a nurse in the hospital where Jake Barnes was sent after he suffered a disabling injury in combat. Serving as the narrative voice throughout, Jake begins the story by talking about his past and current relationship to another character, Robert Cohn, who will subsequently figure in the plot but who is not the novel’s protagonist. Jake tells us that Cohn comes from a wealthy...

(The entire section is 1234 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The First World War, with its chemical weaponry and trench warfare, killed millions of soldiers and shattered the ideals of countless...

(The entire section is 219 words.)