It is a lovely spring evening. After a day of work, Hemingway leaves his flat and walks over to a restaurant: just reading the menu makes him hungry. The restaurant’s proprietor welcomes him and says that he saw him working earlier, like “a man alone in the jungle.” Hemingway keeps walking down the street, feeling happy. He recognizes several people he knows through café windows; these people tend to frequent the big cafés where no one will notice them. Hemingway feels “virtuous” for having worked hard, though he notes that he is still poor. When he and Hadley drink wine, they dilute it with water. He concludes that in Paris it is possible to “live very well on almost nothing,” provided one skips meals and doesn’t buy clothing, leaving enough money for occasional “luxuries.” Hemingway enters the Dôme café and goes to sit with Pascin, who is there with two sisters, both models.
This passage illustrates the way in which Hemingway bounces between feelings of self-satisfaction and feelings of self-doubt. He is proud of himself for working hard and feels confident that he and Hadley can live a reasonably easy, enjoyable lifestyle on the small amount of income he earns as a writer. At the same time, he is also troubled by reminders of his poverty (such as the need to dilute wine with water) that likely trigger feelings of guilt about not providing for Hadley, which he expresses in other chapters. The people around Hemingway have faith in his success, but he is dogged by the anxiety of uncertainty.
Pascin is “a very good painter” and is drunk. The sisters are attractive; one is “a lesbian who also liked men” and the other is “childlike and dull.” Pascin offers to buy Hemingway a drink, boasting that he has money and encouraging Hemingway to order a whisky. Pascin asks if Hemingway wants to “bang” the lesbian sister, and Hemingway replies: “you probably banged her enough today.” The girl smiles flirtatiously in response. Pascin calls Hemingway “the serious young writer,” himself “the friendly wise old painter,” and his sisters “the two beautiful young girls.” The three of them drink, and Pascin scolds one of the girls for “modeling” in the café. He flirts with the girls, exchanging dirty talk. Hemingway says he has to leave, and Pascin promises the girls that they can go and eat wherever they want. Hemingway thinks to himself that Pascin is like “a Broadway character.” In the future, Pascin hangs himself, and Hemingway compels himself to remember Pascin as he was that night at the Dôme.
This passage illuminates two very different sides to Hemingway’s character, and, particularly, the way he interacts with others. His behavior to the women is degrading and rude, and his representation of them suggests that he thinks very little of them beyond their attractive appearance. In contrast to the prudishness Hemingway professed when discussing sex with Gertrude Stein, in this passage he is more than happy to crudely ask if Pascin “banged” the lesbian sister. However, Hemingway’s tone shifts dramatically at the end of the passage. After mentioning Pascin’s eventual suicide, he describes him in a generous and forgiving way. This confirms the notion that Hemingway respects men far more than women.