The Sun Also Rises

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The Sun Also Rises Quotes

Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of The Sun Also Rises published in 1954.
Chapter 1 Quotes
I mistrust all frank and simple people, especially when their stories hold together, and I always had a suspicion that perhaps Robert Cohn had never been middleweight boxing champion. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

The Sun Also Rises opens with an account of Robert Cohn’s boxing career at Princeton. The novel’s narrator, Jake Barnes, seems intent on belittling Cohn’s middleweight title: he suggests that Cohn’s “simple” story is not to be trusted, and wonders whether Cohn’s “flattened nose” was really a boxing-related injury.

Though Jake goes on to dismiss these doubts (citing reports from Cohn’s coach at Princeton, Spider Kelly, who corroborates Cohn’s story) he remains unimpressed by Cohn’s purported title. By targeting Cohn’s successes as a boxer, Jake calls into question Cohn’s masculinity. Competitive sports seem to Jake to be a proxy for strength and honor: the lesser fighter, in Jake’s mind, is perhaps the lesser man.

Though Cohn’s collegiate fighting career is the subject of these lines, Hemingway here reveals as much about Jake as he does about the man Jake describes. Jake is deeply cynical. He claims to be skeptical of anyone who appears honest, believing that stories which “hold together” best are the least likely to have actually happened. Perhaps it is Jake’s own history – rarely mentioned but hardly forgotten – that has left him suspicious of any simple truths or straightforward answers. While Cohn was fighting in the controlled environment of a boxing ring, Jake was in the trenches of World War I. Cohn’s most severe injury is a broken nose; Jake’s is lifelong impotence from a war injury. Though such comparisons are rarely drawn by the narrator himself, they are never too far beneath the surface of Jake's competitive, and often disdainful, accounts of his "friend."

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Chapter 2 Quotes
"I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it."
"Nobody ever lives life all the way up except bull-fighters"
Cohn and Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bullfighting
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Cohn and Jake discuss plans to travel to South America. Cohn has the vague desire to be “living” more, and Jake seems suspicious of any such attempt. Though Jake can certainly relate to Cohn’s lack of direction, it’s unlikely that Jake shares with Cohn a sense that life is “going so fast” – as a veteran of World War I, Jake has perhaps experienced too much. Jake seems to think that Cohn’s aspirations are naïve, and that life by its very nature is unfulfilling. If Cohn worries about feeling aimless, Jake asks what one can even hope to aim for.

This exchange provides the novel’s first reference to bull fighting, introducing a metaphor that much of The Sun Also Rises is committed to developing. Bull fighting represents to Jake the ideal that war never lived up to: its violence is controlled, its rules set, and its victories legitimate cause for celebration. Bull-fighters have the glory and romance of face-to-face conflict without the lasting traumas of war. To be sure, Jake’s claim that bull-fighters alone know how to live well is perhaps not to be taken at face value. Still, it’s telling that Jake looks to these men – fearless actors in a spectacle of violence – as examples of what “really living” can look like.

"You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. " – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Few quotes from The Sun Also Rises distill the novel’s central ideas better than Jake’s words here. This line comes as a response to Cohn’s proposal to travel abroad to South America. Jake understands, or thinks he understands, that Cohn’s plans are not so much about getting away from Paris as they are about escaping himself – a trip bound to result in disappointment.

Underlying Jake’s cynicism is his experience in the war: the physical, emotional and psychological toll has not lessened on account of Jake’s travels, nor does he expect future travels to accomplish what previous travels could not. Cohn, the only male character in The Sun Also Rises who hasn’t seen war firsthand, has not yet accepted this truth. Escape remains a possibility to him: if only we can change where we are, Cohn seems to think, we can change how we are.

Jake thinks not. And though he is responding most explicitly to Cohn’s travel plans, his words might be extended to other activities detailed in The Sun Also Rises. Endless socializing, heavy drinking, long leisurely meals, romances that come as quickly as they go – all seem attempts to escape oneself, or one’s present environment, through distraction and sedation. In the ensuing drama of The Sun Also Rises, Jake’s pessimistic thesis holds – no man escapes himself.

Chapter 3 Quotes
"Who are your friends?" Georgette asked.
"Writers and artists."
"There are lots of those on this side of the river."
"Too many."
Georgette and Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Georgette (speaker)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Paris was a hub of artistic movements in the 1920s; some of the greatest writers and artists of this “Lost Generation” (Hemingway included) came from all over Europe and America to live and work in the city. Georgette’s comment that “there are lots of those” suggests that even Parisians uninvolved in the world of art felt the presence of young expatriate creatives.

Jake’s two-word response reveals a great deal about his positioning within this generation of Parisian artists and expats. Though he is certainly one of these “writers and artists” living in Paris, he seems to not identify with the crowd—as someone who actually does work for a living, he seems bitter about artists like Robert Cohn, who has come to the city with plenty of money and only marginal artistic merit. “Too many” seems, then, a possible jab at his generation’s lack of direction, targeting those who moved to Paris without significant creative ambitions.

But Jake’s cynicism here is not simply a neutral judgment about the quality of his peers’ work. He feels competitive, perhaps even insecure, and means to give Georgette—his companion for the night—the impression that he is above these other men, or at the very least deserving of her admiration.

Chapter 4 Quotes
I passed Ney's statue standing among the new-leaved chetnut trees in the arc-light. […] He looked very fine, Marshal Ney in his top-boots, gesturing with his sword among the green new horse-chetnut leaves. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

This observation of Jake’s comes not long after a critical conversation with Brett in which the two confessed their love for each other and tried, uncomfortably, to inject some humor into the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Jake’s war injuries.

Jake’s insecurities about his masculinity are still on his mind. This scene finds Jake admiring a statue of Marshal Ney, paying particular attention to the way Ney’s image interacts with the surrounding trees. Marshal Ney is a famous French military commander, noted for his tremendous bravery. Ney is thus an historical figure who seems to epitomize masculinity; Jake’s appreciation (even if it seems somewhat bitter) for this statue betrays a sense of awe, even envy, at Ney’s typically masculine characteristics. In particular, Jake seems taken by Ney’s sword—the quintessential phallic symbol—and says that the man himself is looking “fine” as he proudly wields it. Having just escaped a conversation with Brett that reminded Jake of his impotence, this statue, though subtler in its impact, accomplishes something similar.

It’s worth considering where we find this emblem of masculinity—Ney’s statue is removed from the scene of socializing, drinking and partying, and is instead alone in the middle of some chestnut trees, as if in a forest. Idealized masculinity and nature often appear together in The Sun Also Rises, perhaps most clearly in Jake’s love of bull fighting.

It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night is another thing. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

In Jake’s most vulnerable moments, he expresses a pain common to many WWI veterans of the “Lost Generation” but rarely spoken of. Spending time out and about during the day, working and socializing, shields Jake from these dangers of introspection. He puts on a tough front, giving the impression of strength to those around him—acting "hard-boiled about everything." His wounds are, quite literally, hidden—with clothing on no one can see his injuries from the war.

Nighttime solitude enforces a kind of self-reflection, however: when you’re alone, you have to face your reality, and what you may be able to hide from others, you can’t hide from yourself. Jake has to face his wounds as he changes into bedtime clothes and sleeps alone, at least in part, out of shame. Though able in some respects to conceal the lasting effects of war, the physical and psychological damages persist.

Jake may hope to appear thoroughly masculine at every turn, but his emotional fragility here seems more closely associated with (what he might deem) femininity. And just as Jake is crying alone in his bed, a boyish, short-haired Brett—also a boy’s name—comes barging into his room after making a ruckus downstairs, and gives the impression of being more in control of her emotions than Jake. Hemingway seems to be deliberately undermining our expectations about gender. Brett, here, is the source of emotional strength: when she departs, Jake goes back to feeling awful, expressing in this final sentence his struggle for any kind of stability.

Chapter 6 Quotes
"Just try and be calm. I know it's hard. But remember, it's for literature. We all ought to make sacrifices for literature. Look at me. I'm going to England without a protest. All for literature." – Frances
Related Characters: Frances Clyne (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

These lines appear in the middle of a sharply sarcastic rant Frances directs towards Robert Cohn, who, after two years of promising marriage, has decided to leave her. He has agreed to pay her 200 pounds to leave for England and stay with friends, while he continues to hone his writing.

Frances sees through Robert’s motives, claiming that Robert is prioritizing “literature” and the ideal of romantic love over its messy reality. She believes that what Robert desires—sexual liberation—has more to do with career aspirations than any worthwhile romantic agenda. If Robert were to settle down and get married, he would (he seems to assume) lead a conventional, uninspiring life. Leaving Frances gives him license to explore new women, and to pretend as if Frances was only ever a scandalous mistress—the kind of story that might, in other words, make for juicy novelistic material.

Insofar as Frances intends to mock Robert’s decision, her lines target the new attitudes towards sex and love that we’ve seen up to this point in the novel, embodied most clearly in the character of Brett. Frances’s comments, in this sense, seem to shed light on Robert’s attraction to Brett (revealed in chapter 5): perhaps what attracts him most to Brett is what she represents, an exemplary figure of the progressive woman of the 1920s, whose promiscuity is more a measure of confidence than submissiveness. Brett is able to keep sex separate from love; she lives life impulsively, without much regard for others. If Cohn runs away from Frances, he risks throwing away conventional love, validated by the ritual of marriage, for a chance to fall in love again, or perhaps to begin a romantic life worth writing about.

Chapter 7 Quotes
"This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste." – Count Mippipopolous
Related Characters: Count Mippipopolous (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

Count Mippipopolous offers this piece of advice to Brett while enjoying a bottle (the first of three) of what Jake calls “amazing champagne." We are by this point familiar with the role that alcohol plays in these characters’ social lives. Though their fondness for alcohol may at times appear a vestige of the era, the count’s words should lead us to think more deeply about these tendencies. 

Mippipopolous’ remark suggests that Brett uses alcohol to manipulate her emotions, while he claims to drink with a simpler purpose in mind, namely to enjoy himself. His comments might apply equally to Jake, who represses traumatic memories of WWI with constant drinking.

The count’s drinking seems far more innocuous. He has come out of a few wars with the ability to appreciate finer things (specifically good wine) for their own sake—the alcohol is a pleasure in itself, not a tool with which to numb pain. And yet his advice seems to have no effect on our protagonists. Indeed, as the count finishes his sentence, Brett finishes her glass of wine.

Chapter 10 Quotes
I have never seen a man in civil life as nervous as Robert Cohn – nor as eager. I was enjoying it. It was lousy to enjoy it, but I felt lousy. Cohn had a wonderful quality of bringing out the worst in anybody. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

Jake, Robert Cohn, and Bill Gorton are eating dinner in Pamplona when Brett and Mike’s train is scheduled to arrive, so Jake and Cohn head to the train station to pick the fiancées up. As the two men are waiting, Jake offers these words about his companion. By this point tensions between the two are high—Jake is extremely jealous that Cohn has not only fallen in love, but has already had an affair with Brett. Disdain and insecurity are likely behind Jake’s observations here. But his comments are not simply jealous half-truths: he’s seen Robert bring out a disrespectful side of Harvey Stone, nasty spite in Frances, and, most recently, flirtatious treatment from Brett, which Jake can’t help but resent. Cohn is a character whose attempt to do the best for himself directly brings out the worst in others. 

When examining Jake’s portrayal of Cohn, here and elsewhere in the novel, it’s important to consider the role of anti-Semitism. Cohn is the only Jewish character in the novel, and his heritage is mentioned more than a few times. It seems to be no coincidence, then, that he is the most marginalized character, and that in spite of his niceness he just can’t seem to do anything right, managing to seem a threatening presence to Jake no matter his intent.

Chapter 12 Quotes
"You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see. You hang around cafés."– Bill
Related Characters: Bill Gorton (speaker), Jake Barnes
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

Jake and Bill wake up in the small town of Burguete where they will be staying during their fishing trip, and as they are having their coffee, Bill launches into a humorous rant about American perceptions of expatriates.

Here, “soil” most directly refers to America, but it also connotes nature, meaning that Bill’s use of the word “expatriate” takes on an interesting double meaning—it seems to connect their departure from a nation (“country” in one sense) to a departure from the land itself (“country” in another sense). Out in nature, these two men find some sense of purpose, lost in the aimlessness of urban life: when they commit themselves to fishing, for example, their work provides tangible rewards. Bill opines that life in Paris promotes the opposite—laziness—and provides nothing but meaningless distractions. If the expatriates seem lost, it’s because they’ve lost touch with their roots, so to speak.

Chapter 13 Quotes
Those who were aficionados could always get rooms even when the hotel was full. Montoya introduced me to some of them. They were always very polite at first, and it amused them very much that I should be American. Somehow it was taken for granted that an American could not have aficion. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Montoya
Related Symbols: Bullfighting
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

When Jake and Bill arrive back in Pamplona, they find that Montoya's hotel is filling up with people who are there to see the running of the bulls, and Jake begins to explain the true passion many men have for the sport. Jake appears, perhaps more than ever, connected to the people of Spain. He is comfortable, and his being accepted as an "aficionado" (someone with true passion for and knowledge of bullfighting) works to his advantage: his friends may seem like intruding foreigners, but Jake is treated with respect, even reverence.

Afición is here associated with a kind of masculinity. These men favor a sport in which other men display spectacular bravery in their fight against a real force of nature, a raging (and male) bull. When discussing and watching the sport together, they focus solely on the event, engaging themselves fully in the beauty—and violence—of sport.

It was like certain dinners I remember from the war. There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn, Lady Brett Ashley, Bill Gorton, Mike Campbell
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

Jake concludes chapter 13 by referring to the first dinner between Brett, Mike, Robert, Bill, and Jake, after the group has seen a bullfight and tensions between Mike and Cohn have calmed. The war continues to be on Jake’s mind, even in the midst of fighting, partying, and foreign adventure. Nor can its damages be relegated to the distant past: Jake’s current love life is spoiled by the war, his favorite sport is compared to war, the war comes up in conversation with many of his companions, and now the group’s love rivalries seem in some ways analogous to life on the battlefield. Alcohol, as always, seems capable of providing an escape; drinking is a way for these travelers to numb their feelings and distort their perception of the present into something bearable, if only briefly.

Chapter 14 Quotes
That was morality; things that made you disgusted afterward. No, that must be immorality. That was a large statement. What a lot of bilge I could think up at night. What rot, I could hear Brett say it. What rot! – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of Chapter 14 we find Jake in his bed, inebriated, thinking about Brett, and struggling to define his moral precepts. Night seems once again to bring out Jake’s anxious, insecure, and, here, over-analytical tendencies. Jake retracts these general, ethical guidelines almost as quickly he defines them. The difference between friendship and love, the way life works, how one ought to behave—these questions remain unresolved. Just one chapter ago, "aficionado" Jake was explaining the rules and nuances of the art of bullfighting; these he understands perfectly. Outside of the sporting arena, however, rules are much harder to explain and hold to.

Chapter 15 Quotes
At noon on Sunday, July 6th, the fiesta exploded. There was no other way to describe it. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

This line opens chapter 15, the point at which Hemingway formally introduces us to the San Fermin fiesta of 1924. Jake spends the rest of the chapter chronicling the festival’s happenings, here describing the opening as an explosion.

To Jake, the word “explosion” probably connotes war, and the similarities between the festival’s opening and a battle’s first attack merit further attention. Bombing opens the floodgates for mayhem, disrupting in an instant the rules that typically govern civil life. In the fiestas, such a disturbance is in the name of celebration; it is an explosion of positive energy, a necessary release of tension, as the entire city shifts its attention to sport (in bullfighting) and leisure (in dancing, drinking, song). It is not surprising that the fiesta has such appeal to our protagonists, though their release of tension may in the end more closely resemble a war than a party.

The things that happened could only have happened during a fiesta. Everything became quite unreal finally and it seemed as though nothing could have any consequences. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

Jake, Cohn, and Bill are drinking outside at a café, and Jake continues to narrate the scene, attempting to convey the atmosphere of the fiesta. The narration once again seems to invite a comparison between the fiesta and the war: earlier, Jake compares a festive rocket to shrapnel, and these lines could just as easily be describing war, if we replaced the word “fiesta” with, say, “battle”. The “sanfermines” seem unreal in the sense that they break entirely from the norms and routines of daily life, and this sense of unreality can only be intensified for foreigners like Jake. These disruptions, along with the intensity, the passion, the constant noise and the commotion, provide a combination of sensations that must seem to Jake all too familiar.

Chapter 17 Quotes
"She hasn't had an absolutely happy life, Brett. Damned shame, too. She enjoys things so." – Mike
Related Characters: Mike Campbell (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Mike, Bill, and Jake are talking about the fight between Cohn and Romero. Mike mentions that he has talked with Brett, and has scolded her for her various affairs. Just before this line, Mike had reported disturbing details from Brett’s past marriage: he reports mistreatment by her ex-husband, who used to threaten to kill her, and slept with a loaded pistol that she had to unload every night while he was sleeping.

Mike’s comments offer some critical insights into Brett’s character and appeal. Brett is surrounded by men who idealize her, primarily for how she exudes freedom, giving the impression of being able to enjoy her life to the fullest. To men who have been scarred by the war, and who are visibly or invisibly racked with insecurity, her confidence is all the more attractive. But Mike suggests that there is great misery underneath it all, that Brett is not a carefree agitator, but a scarred and vulnerable victim as well.

When Mike calls it a “shame” that Brett hasn’t been happy all her life, we are reminded of Mike’s own desire to be happy. Mike is a war veteran who drinks to forget perhaps more than any other male character in The Sun Also Rises. He appears to have given up on happiness for himself, so now places some vicarious hope in the happiness of his future wife. 


Chapter 18 Quotes
"Well, it was a swell fiesta."
"Yes," I said; "something doing all the time."
"You wouldn't believe it. It's like a wonderful nightmare."
"Sure," I said. "I'd believe anything. Including nightmares."
Bill and Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Bill Gorton (speaker)
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

After Romero’s triumphant bullfight, Bill and Jake go back to the hotel to eat, and in these lines acknowledge that the fiesta has ended. Reminiscent of how Jake struggles to really describe what the fiesta was like when it started (recall that for Jake there wasn’t any other way to describe it than as an “explosion”), Bill offers an oxymoron: the fiesta is a “wonderful nightmare”. Though it’s true that Bill seems to use the word “wonderful” gratuitously (see his description of the euro-trip in chapter 8), his description of the festival—at once awesome and frightening—contains real insight.

It seems to capture this central aspect of the festival, and, for that matter, of the novel: the meeting of positive and negative energy. Bullfighting is perhaps the most concrete example – man and nature collide in a spectacle of sport that brings great enjoyment, and yet finishes in the gruesome death of a beautiful creature. For many, this art is a “wonderful,” riveting sport, but there is no ignoring the nightmarish brutality of the bulls’ end.

We might also extend Bill’s phrase a “wonderful nightmare” to romance in The Sun Also Rises: love is, at once, intensely enjoyable and painful. By this point in the novel, love (specifically, the male characters’ love for Brett) has lifted and inspired a few men, and has also destroyed them, disrupting friendships along the way. Jake, perhaps more than anyone, seems to have experienced the nightmarish side of “wonderful” love. 

Chapter 19 Quotes
I hated to leave France. Life was so simple in France. I felt I was a fool to be going back to Spain. In Spain you could not tell about anything. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker)
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

Jake, finally alone after the week of the fiesta, has begun making his way back to France, but decides to extend his vacation by returning to Spain. The complicated impact of the festival warrants some unpacking here. Initially, Jake seemed to eager to get to Spain; now, he is hesitant to leave life in France. While in Paris, Jake was critical of the superficial social scene, and felt tortured by his situation with Brett. Spain represented something different: a chance to detach himself from that uneventful, un-inspired, and unnatural life.

Spain used to be a place where Jake could “tell” about everything—he understood the language, and perhaps even more impressively was an aficionado of the Spanish bullfighting culture. He seemed at home when he arrived in Spain, and began to reclaim his masculinity, or what was left of it, through his passion for bullfighting. But by the time he leaves Spain, his relationship to the country (and to its festival) seems different. Recall how he left Montoya, a friend and fellow aficionado, who felt disappointed in Jake for having helped to corrupt Pedro Romero, the symbol of all that was good and pure in their beloved sport. Jake’s half-hearted return to Spain only cements his place as a member of the “Lost Generation,” wandering now between countries.

"Oh, Jake,' Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley (speaker)
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

These are the final lines of the novel. Jake has come to Madrid to save Brett; here the two are in a taxi after dinner, both quite drunk. Brett, in spite of all she’s been through in the past few weeks, continues to feel the same way about Jake. When she says they could have had a great time together, the implication is that Jake's impotence has prevented them from consummating their relationship. As if to address any doubts about the sexual undertones of this line, Hemingway describes, at this very moment, the policeman holding his baton. The baton is on the one hand, and perhaps most obviously, a phallic symbol, but it also seems to signal the novel’s conclusion: with its movement, the policeman signals the car to halt, effectively signaling to us the end of the novel’s drama.

In Jake’s final lines, we sense traces of emotional maturity. He has struggled greatly with the fact that he could not be with Brett, and has been troubled, in particular, by his war injuries. He has seen Brett run off with Robert Cohn for a couple of weeks, and watched, too, as Brett had a brief affair with the champion bullfighter (who attempts to pin her down and marry her). Both relationships ended shortly after, and caused great pain to the male characters involved. Jake’s realization here is that sex with Brett may have left their relationship in tatters as well. Without sex, the two can maintain a friendship, and can share in the comforting, though perhaps illusory idea that they would have been good and happy together, if only circumstances had allowed.

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