At the beginning of the novel, Hemingway familiarizes the reader with Jake’s expatriate lifestyle. In Chapter 2, Hemingway uses a paradox—combined with a healthy dose of sarcasm—to characterize the overall nature of the newspaper business:
It is very important to discover graceful exits like that in the newspaper business, where it is such an important part of the ethics that you should never seem to be working.
While writing for a newspaper certainly requires some amount of work, Hemingway illustrates the apparent paradox of the social norms of the business by insinuating that you should “never” appear to actually do any work. Of course, this isn't actually the case, since journalists obviously need to work, but the observation underscores the nature and social rules of Jake’s world in Paris. After all, this is a social environment in which casual wealth and constant partying are pervasive, so although everyone technically seems to have a profession, almost nobody actually ever works—a sign of a certain class privilege. What's more, these words gradually ring true, as the reader rarely sees Jake work for the rest of the novel. He is, then, living out the very paradox he outlines in this passage.