The next morning, Jake walks to work, watching the women selling flowers, students going to class, and the trams moving about. Jake finds it pleasant to be going to work with everyone else.
In the daytime, among the crowd and its distractions, being on the move and a part of a larger group of people he doesn't know, Jake can escape his sadness.
Jake works through the morning at his office, then goes to a meeting with other newsmen whom he describes as liking the sound of their own voices. "There was no news", Jake reports. He then takes a cab back to the office with two of his colleagues, who talk about bars and tennis. One of the men, Krumm, says he'll soon quit working and be able to get out to see the country. They all agree that going out to see the country is the best thing to do.
Work is easy and without purpose. The lack of news describes the emptiness of life after the intense business of the war. The men focus on leisure pursuits to avoid this empty purposelessness, but their desire for nature, to get back to the country, to something more real, betrays their need for escape.
In his office, Jake finds Cohn waiting for him. Cohn asks Jake to lunch. At the restaurant, Jake asks if Cohn had fun last night and Cohn says he doesn't think so. He says that his next book is going badly, and at the mention of South America, he says that Frances is keeping him from going, and that she wouldn't like it there but he can't "tell her to go to hell" because of "certain obligations" to her.
Cohn's comment that he doesn't think he had fun highlights the fact that he's not sure. The character's social activities seem fun if you don't look too close, but are so constant and repetitive that they become empty. Robert would like to leave Frances, but just as with his first wife his sense of honor holds him back.
Cohn then asks Jake about Lady Brett Ashley. Jake tells him what he knows: that she's getting a divorce and marrying a Scotsman named Mike Campbell. Cohn can't stop talking about Brett's beauty and says he thinks he might be in love with her. Annoyed, Jake responds that she's a drunk and is going to marry Mike, who's going to inherit a lot of money. Cohn asks how long Jake has known her. Jake says they met in the war, when she was a V.A.D (a kind of volunteer nurse). She met her first husband in the war too, her "own true love" having died of dysentery.
Each competitor for Brett's affection is insecure. There is a constant turnover of men, making loss inevitable. Divorce follows marriage and marriage follows divorce. War is the place of true love. Brett and Jake are both stuck in the past of the war where their most meaningful relationships and losses occurred and everything was important.
Cohn accuses Jake of sounding bitter, and. Jake tells Cohn to go to hell. Cohn stands up from the table and demands that Jake take back what he said about going to hell. Jake calls this "prep school stuff' but he tells Cohn not to go to hell. Cohn sits back down again. Jake admits to having a "nasty tongue," and tells Cohn not to believe the nasty things he says. Cohn responds that Jake his best friend. As they leave the restaurant, Jake senses that Cohn wants to bring up Brett again but he manages to avoid having that conversation and the two part ways for the day.
Jake's anger stems from being forced by Cohn to face up to how his own love for Brett affects his behavior. Cohn's anger at being told to go to hell hints at the traditional values he still holds onto—he still believes in hell. The other characters, who fought in the war, don't believe in hell, perhaps because the war itself was their hell. Cohn also believes in friendship, though that doesn't feel like exactly the right term for what he and Jake share.