Jake doesn't see Brett or Cohn for a good long while. He receives one brief, appropriately warm postcard from Brett in San Sebastian, and a note from Cohn, who says he's left Paris for the countryside. Meanwhile, Jake's friend and fellow veteran Bill Gorton arrives from the U.S. with plans to visit Budapest and Vienna and then to go to Spain with Jake to go fishing and to the Pamplona fiesta. Bill is full of good spirits in his descriptions of the U.S., but when returns from Vienna three weeks later he is less cheerful.
Bill, who returned to the United States after the war rather than staying in Europe, is more cheerful than the expatriate veterans. But Bill's cheeriness evaporates as he stays in Europe—the separation from home and the memories that Europe brings affect all the veterans of WW1.
Bill reports that he got so drunk in Vienna that he can't remember any of the four days he spent there. Then he does remember one thing: a boxing match, in which a "wonderful nigger" knocked out a local boy, and its aftermath.
Bill, like the other veterans, turns to drinking. The one thing he does remember from his drunken state is a boxing fight. Hemingway's men are drawn to younger, stronger versions of themselves and are fascinated by staged violence.
As they walk around Paris looking for a restaurant, Bill tells Jake about a man he was drinking with earlier in the day whose secret is never being "daunted." Jake says Harvey Stone was daunted, and now doesn't sleep and goes off like a cat all the time. They agree not to get daunted.
Bill Gorton uses jokes to cover horror and fear and insecurity. He teaches Jake his brand of avoidance. They compare each other on a scale of dauntedness. They cling to a masculine ideal of fearlessness, but are insecure about it.
Suddenly they see Brett in a passing taxi. She stops the cab and gets out, reporting that she's just back from San Sebastian and that Mike is following later in the day. Jake insists they all meet that night. Brett says she was an ass to leave and that she didn't do anything in San Sebastian. After Brett leaves, Jake comments that she is soon going to marry Mike and Bill jokes that he always meets girls in that stage of life.
Jake can't be happy that Brett has returned with Mike, but he suppresses those feelings in inviting them to dinner. Brett, meanwhile, sees her entire trip as silly and meaningless, which of course it was. Bill jokes about not meeting women, but really does seem to regret being alone.
Bill and Jake eat dinner at a restaurant that's full of Americans, mainly because it has a review calling it "untouched by Americans." Bill had eaten there in 1918 just after the war ended and the owner fusses over him. She also asks Jake why he never comes to eat there. He replies that there are too many of his compatriots.
Jake doesn't like to see Americans, perhaps because so many of them did not share his experience of the war that he does not know how to interact with them. Jake also doesn't like to remember the war.
Before going to meet Brett and Mike, Jake and Bill go for a walk. They cross the Seine and see Notre Dame cathedral from the river. Bill says that he loves to get back to Paris. They pass a bar, but Bill says he doesn't need a drink so they just keep on walking.
Previous distaste for the city is forgotten when the men are walking and encounter the majesty of the cathedral and the river. This is one of the only times in the novel that they don't feel like drinking.
When Jake and Bill get to the bar, Brett introduces Mike as a drunkard. Mike is, in fact, drunk, and he keeps commenting about how beautiful and wonderful Brett is. Conversation turns to a boxing match going on that night, but Mike says he'd prefer not to go, as he "has a date." Jake and Bill head off to the fight, and as they leave Jake notices Brett looking happy as she scolds Mike and takes him home.
But these blissful feelings always disappear once Brett arrives. The men's attention focuses solely on her and their competition for her. Here the men deflect their competitive spirit into the acts of drinking and talking about boxing. Jake is jealous of the way Brett looks at Mike, recognizing it from his own experience with her.