In the quiet of the sudden end of the fiesta, Mike, Bill, and Jake decide to share a cab to leave Pamplona. Montoya does not say goodbye. Soon they have driven out of Spain and are back in France.
With the fiesta over, it is clear that they do not belong in the town anymore, as the locals get back to their ordinary lives. They were tourists like the rest. Jake has destroyed his relationship with Montoya, and by extension with bullfighting.
In Biarritz, they stop at a bar to drink, and gamble to pay the bill. They gamble until Mike is out of money. He has twenty francs left in the world. He adds that Brett also has no money, since she gave it to Montoya to cover Mike's debts. Jake is concerned when he hears about Brett. Bill says they might as well have more drinks.
Without the fiesta's distractions, the men get back to their old pursuits to keep the spirit of competition alive. Money once more becomes a defining characteristic of their relationships.
In Bayonne, they drop Mike at his hotel, where he tells them not to worry about money, and Bill catches his train. Jake watches the train leave, then goes back to the car. The driver tries to over-charge him, but Jake doesn't haggle and returns to the same hotel and room that he, Bill and Cohn had before. He notices that it feels both "strange" and "safe" to be back in France.
Mike warns them of the dangers of thinking of the world in terms of money. Jake takes this heart as he does not haggle with the driver. He returns to the same room, but it feels different, indicating that he has changed.
Alone in Bayonne, Jake eats alone, enjoying choosing wine and drinking slowly. He worries, however, that he has offended the waiter so he over tips. It seems to him that people have an easier time being happy in France than in Spain, and decides that he hates leaving France. Nonetheless, in the morning he catches the train to the Spanish seaside town of San Sebastian rather than return to Paris.
Jake is not drinking or eating here merely for distraction. He is actually enjoying it for its own sake. But he hasn't changed completely: he still tries to smooth over relationships with money, and he still feels the almost compulsive need to keep moving and travel to new places.
In San Sebastian, Jake rests, goes swimming, sits in the sun, and walks around the harbor. He has dinner in the hotel alongside a company of French and Belgian cyclists. Jake discusses how sporty France has become with one of the cyclists, but mostly the man talks and drinks and Jake does not make much reply.
Sleep and water and solitude restore Jake. He goes back to nature in order to start afresh. Competition, sport and masculine insecurity is ongoing. Jake recognizes it in the group of cyclists.
The next day Jake gets a telegram from Brett, saying she is in trouble, followed quickly by another, asking him to come to Madrid. Jake takes an overnight train, but does not sleep. Instead, he watches the country pass by out of the window, but does not "give a damn about it."
The cycle of Brett's love story is never ending, as is Jake's sense of duty toward Brett. In the face of Brett's troubles, Jake doesn't care about the landscape.
When he arrives at Brett's hotel, she kisses him. She explains that she sent Romero away, but wrote to Jake because she wasn't sure if she could actually get him to leave and had no money to leave herself. She then explains that Romero wanted her to grow out her hair and look like a real woman, and wanted to marry her so she could never leave him. But Brett refused, both because she doesn't want to ruin him and because she doesn't want to ruin children. She says she wants to go back to Mike, and seems determined, but starts crying and demands they don't talk about it anymore.
Brett always turns to Jake, the one whose love is always true because it can never be consummated, when she's in trouble. Romero, unlike the other men in Brett's life, never gives up his traditional masculine role and tries to force Brett into a traditional feminine role. Brett seems to both admire that in him and does not want to ruin it, but also refuses to give up her freedom. She seems to see her insistence on maintaining her freedom as both a victory and a loss, as something necessary to her but also something she wouldn't want to pass on to children. And she slips right back into her old patterns, in the form of relying on Jake and going back to Mike.
Jake and Brett go to lunch. Brett has a drink, which steadies her. She says she's decided not to be a bitch. Since she never got on well with religion, she says, this resolution is what she has instead of God. During lunch, Brett asks Jake not to get drunk, but he continues to drink anyway.
As usual, after expressing themselves, the Lost Generation goes back to avoidance—they drink. Brett replaces religion with a personal directive containing language that most people at the time would consider filthy.
Jake suggests they go for a ride and they get a taxi and sit close together as it drives. The day is hot and bright. As they pass a policeman directing traffic and raising a red baton, Brett laments that if only things were different "we could have had such a damned good time together." Jake replies, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
As usual, it is motion and the promise of a journey that inspire them to be affectionate while they can. The policeman's raised baton is a symbol of Jake's impotence. In her last line, Brett reiterates the idea that if only Jake weren't injured that she and Jake would have been happy together. This is a sentiment that Jake too has felt and believed in the past. But Jake's response indicates that he has changed, and is able to face some harsher truths. He realizes that the only reason that their love seems like it might work is that it can't actually work. He sees that if he were another ordinary man that Brett would tire of him just as she would tire of others. Yet he describes this false belief in a perfect love that is so close and yet unattainable as pretty. In other words, he expresses regret and pleasure at once, which defines the impossible nature of his era and experience.