The Sun Also Rises

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The Sun Also Rises Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
By the next morning, Cohn has left Pamplona. Brett, looking beautiful but with shaking hands, meets Jake, Bill, and Mike at a café. She reports that Romero was badly hurt by Cohn last night, but still wants to perform in his scheduled bullfight. Mike angrily comments "Brett's got a bullfighter. She had a Jew named Cohn, but he turned out badly." Brett asks Jake to go for a walk with her. As they depart, Mike tips over the café table with all the food and beer on it.
The fiesta has changed the whole status of the group. Brett has transferred her attention to Romero, and everyone is both physically and emotionally injured. Brett outwardly appears to be unscathed, but the shaking of her hands suggests otherwise. Mike's insecurity seems to have made him almost crazy.
Themes
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Sex and Love Theme Icon
Brett and Jake take a walk. Soon, they see a chapel and Brett wants to go in and pray, but then changes her mind, saying she and religion do not go well together. Jake protests that religion works for him, but Brett doesn't believe him.
Jake now identifies himself as having a religion, as being a part of something. Brett does not, and can't imagine that Jake might be being honest.
Themes
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
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When they reach the hotel, Montoya bows to them but doesn't look happy to see them. Brett goes to Romero's while Jake checks in on Mike. Mike's room is a mess, and he drunkenly slurs that he is trying to get some sleep and repeats "Brett's got a bullfighter." Jake leaves him, and goes to have lunch with Bill before the last round of bullfights.
Montoya no longer feels positively toward Jake, who he believes has betrayed the purity of Romero. Mike, as is typical, hides from his sadness behind drink. It is noteworthy that Jake does not.
Themes
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Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
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The bullfights begin with a procession and pageantry. Brett is mesmerized at the matadors' bloodstained capes, and marvels at how unphased they all are by blood. They see the three matadors who will perform that day, Romero in the middle. His face is obscured but he looks beaten up. Romero removes his cape and hands it up to Brett to hold in the stands.
Brett has taken on Jake's aficion feelings about bullfighting. She loves this combination of artistry and controlled violence, grace and death. Romero, looking injured, is no longer as pure as he was.
Themes
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Sport Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
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The first bullfighter to perform is named Belmonte. Belmonte has come out of retirement for the fight, and in his retirement has become legendary for how close he would stand to the bulls when he used to fight. But Belmonte proves unable to live up to what the crowd expects from him, even though he fights bulls he himself has selected because they are less difficult, and the crowd turns against him, jeering and insulting him.
Belmonte serves as a kind of symbol of the Lost Generation, who can no longer live up to their former glory and legend, and who use tricks and bluster to try to fake it, fooling no one including themselves.
Themes
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Romero is up next. Romero has greatness, Jake says. His passion for the bulls was like his passion for Brett, strong, because he didn't show it. He didn't look up to the stands, or show off, but instead kept it all inside.
Jake values a man who combines passion with self-control, who is self-sufficient. Jake tries to look like such a man, but his love of Brett, a love he can't consummate, makes that impossible.
Themes
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Sport Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
In his bullfight, Romero is tentative at first with a particular bull that is troublesome because it doesn't see well, but Romero never gives in, getting closer and closer, with smooth, subtle movements and an intimate awareness of the animals. Eventually Romero strikes the bull in such a way that he seems for a moment to be at one with it.
It seems at first that Romero has been affected by Brett and the beating he received from Cohn (it's possible to see the bull as symbolizing Cohn, who was often accused by others of not seeing when he wasn't wanted). But Romero never gives in. Bullfighting is both beauty and destruction. Man and nature collide and there is a sense of unity and harmony at the moment of death.
Themes
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Sport Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
After that first kill, Romero gets braver and braver. He displays beautiful bullfighting, giving the audience a heart-dropping emotional experience. He faces and kills the bull that had earlier gored the man outside the stadium, and gives the bull's ear to Brett as a trophy. The crowd lifts its hero, who is uncomfortable with this adulation, and carry him off.
Romero overcomes his masculine insecurity, and puts Brett in a traditional female role as recipient of the trophy h wins. The exchange of passions between the bull and the fighter create a kind of drama for the audience.
Themes
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
Sport Theme Icon
Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
After the bullfights, Jake and Bill have lunch at the hotel. Jake is feeling sad, and gives in to Bill's urging that he drink three absinthes in a row, which makes him feel slightly better. Bill says he is sorry for Cohn, and Jake speculates that he'll go back to Frances. Despite everything they agree that the fiesta was good, a "wonderful nightmare." Jake once again feels sad. He follows Bill's advice and keeps drinking, but it doesn't help.
There is something about the fiesta that is indescribable. It is a strange meeting of horror and joy, and in its passing they feel low and once again turn to drinking as a way to try to both artificially recapture that intensity of feeling and to distract themselves from their old sadness.
Themes
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Later on, a very drunk Jake goes to Brett's room. There he finds Mike, who tells him that Brett has left Pamplona with Romero by train. Jake makes his way to his own room and tries to sleep. The room spins. Later, Bill and Mike come to see him but he pretends to be asleep. When the world stops spinning, Jake goes downstairs and is greeted warmly by Mike and Bill, but as they sit and eat, their company seems empty to him.
With Brett—the person for whom he sacrificed everything, his own love, his love of bullfighting— gone, Jake's world contains a void his friends can't fill. Usually Jake fills that void with company and tries to avoid sleep, but now he even avoids company and pretends to sleep, he is so sure that nothing can help him.
Themes
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Masculinity and Insecurity Theme Icon