The next day the fiesta explodes. Jake explains that there's no other word for it. The prices of everything go up, crowds line the wine shops and the churches. A banner proclaims "Hurray for Foreigners!" Bill comments to Jake that they are the foreigners.
A rocket, which Jake compares to a burst of shrapnel, is set off to mark the off the official beginning of the fiesta. Then for seven days constant music and dancing fill the town. Over those seven days everything comes to seem unreal, to seem without consequences, and by the end of the fiesta even money comes to seem unimportant. As a religious procession passes outside, a crowd of dancers in a wine shop dance around Brett, as if she's an idol.
The s hrapnel-like rocket connects the fiesta to the war—both are so intense, filled with passionate feeling, that they feel unreal and make even money seem insignificant. Both are things you can get lost in. The simultaneous religious festival furthers this sense of fervent community and loss of self. Yet Brett's beauty continues to make her stand out.
Jake goes to find leather wineskins, and the shop owner sells them to him for cheap when he learns that Jake plans to drink directly from them once they're filled. When he returns he finds the others singing and dancing, while Mike eating with some locals. Cohn, they tell him, has passed out. Bill says lightly that he thinks Cohn is dead. Jake finds Cohn in a back room, asleep, dressed with garlic like a local.
Jake, with his knowledge of local culture, seems like something other than a foreigner, accepted by the locals. The other friends also seem to fall happily into the fiesta, Even Cohn is dressed like a local, though he can't seem to handle the intensity of the party.
After his nap Cohn reappears, and the group walks to the hotel and have a big meal. The restaurant is all changed for the fiesta, with new prices and menus. Jake has vowed to stay up all night to see the bulls go through the streets but he turns in early to Cohn's room because he cannot find his key. He wakes at 6am the next morning to the sound of the fireworks that announces the running of the bulls. From Cohn's balcony he watches the crowds run through the streets followed by the bulls, and then a roar from the bullring. After it has passed, he goes to sleep.
Food, sleep and the sharing of each other's space characterize a new closeness for the group. The shared quarters and all-night, vigil-like observance of the fireworks is reminiscent of trench life during the war, watching for falling mortars. The excitement and energy of the coming bullfight ease their competition and Jake's insomnia.
The bullfights begin that afternoon. Jake and Bill sit close to the action, while Brett, Mike and Cohn sit further up in the stands. Jake warns Brett not to look when the horses get gored for fear that it will upset her. Mike promises to look after her. Cohn, meanwhile, says he's worried he'll be bored. Annoyed by Cohn's comment, Bill complains about Cohn's "Jewish superiority."
The bullfight promises intensity similar to the war, putting Jake and the other men briefly back in the role of trying to protect the women (i.e. Brett). Cohn, meanwhile, who didn't fight in the war overcompensates with his comments, revealing his deeper insecurity.
Montoya introduces them to a nineteen-year-old phenom of a bullfighter named Pedro Romero. Jake thinks that Romero is the best looking boy he's ever seen. During his bullfight, Romero is fantastic, impressively killing the bull. Jake and Montoya agree that he is a "real one."
Romero is a model of youth and vigor, everything Jake and the others used to be back during the war. These qualities, and his passion for bullfighting, make him something more "real" than other men.
After the fight, everyone who watched it experience the same emotional feeling, and the dancers' bodies seem to move and undulate as a collective group.
The fiesta is a collective experience. Jake and his friends have been looking for this—the belonging and grandeur they've been missing.
When Brett mentions Romero, Mike says she couldn't keep her eyes off him. Mike then adds that Cohn, in contrast, was made sick by the gore. Brett says she wants to sit below next time to see everything, including Romero up close. She marvels that he is only nineteen.
Brett experienced the war just as the other veterans did, and was liberated by it. The gore of the bullfight didn't bother her. Cohn never fought in the war, and can't handle the gore. Brett, meanwhile, has become enamored of the pure Romero, who is now what all the men who follow her around once were.
During Romero's next bullfight, Brett sits next to Jake, who explains Romero's skill to her move by move. He shows her how Romero turns the bull with his cape, how his movements are pure and smooth, and how he doesn't use the trickery that other fighters use to falsely create the emotion of near misses. Mike jokes that Brett is falling in love with Romero and tells Jake to say something disparaging about bullfighters, such as that they beat their mothers. When Brett comes out of the bullring, she is "limp" from all the excitement. The next day, Romero doesn't fight and the next there are no fights scheduled, but the fiesta rages on regardless.
The language used to describe the bull is almost sexualized, describing a kind of seduction, connecting the danger of the bullfight to the dangers of love and sex. Physical skill and physical success attract Brett. Jake has all the knowledge and experience but cannot win out against health, youth, and a willingness to stare death in the face without blinking or trickery. Neither can Mike, whose jokes about Brett falling for Romero masks a real, and legitimate, insecurity.