Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises

  • 49-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 19 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a college professor with an MFA in Creative Writing
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The Sun Also Rises Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 49-page guide for “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 19 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Lost Generation and Foreignness.

Published in 1926, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is a modernist novel regarded as a masterful portrait of the Lost Generation. It is a roman à clef, structured in three acts, that depicts characters based upon Hemingway’s friends and associates. Upon initial publication, it received mixed reviews, but is now considered a classic of 20th-century literature. In 1957, it was adapted into a film starring Ava Gardner (though Hemingway, reportedly, did not like the film).

Plot Summary 

The setting is Paris in the mid-1920s. Jake Barnes, the narrator, provides background about his friend, Robert Cohn, also an expat American. Cohn is from a rich Jewish family but has squandered most of his inheritance. He went to college at Princeton. There, he experienced anti-Semitism, which compelled him to become a boxer. He got married and divorced and moved to Europe with his girlfriend, Frances Clyne, who uses him for the money he has left. After a dinner with Jake, Cohn returns to America, where he sells his second novel, and comes back to Paris with a desire to live freely and romantically. He asks Jake to go with him to South America, but Jake finds this idea to be naïve.

Jake meets a prostitute, Georgette, and takes her out to dinner. She attempts to kiss him, but he stops her because a war wound has left him impotent. That night, they are out at a club and Lady Brett Ashley arrives. She is the love of Jake’s life and, at the club, Cohn immediately falls for her. Jake leaves in a taxi with Brett and kisses her, but she stops him. She does love him; however, she doesn’t want to be monogamous with an impotent man.

The following day, Jake meets with Cohn and paints Brett in an unflattering light. He tells Cohn that Brett plans to marry a Scottish man, Mike. That night, Jake shows up for a date with Brett, but she drunkenly forgets. Much later, she brings Count Mippipopolous to Jake’s apartment. When they’re alone, Brett tells Jake that it’s difficult for them to be around each other and that it could be beneficial to spend time apart. She spends weeks in San Sebastian, where she is secretly joined by Cohn.

Jake’s friend, Bill, a successful writer, arrives in Paris. They plan a trip to Pamplona for the bullfighting festival. Jake and Bill run into Brett, who has just returned from San Sebastian. That evening, they go out with Brett and Mike, who invite themselves along for the trip to Spain. Jake welcomes them. Brett wonders if Cohn will be coming with them and reveals to Jake that he was with her in San Sebastian.

Jake sets off for Spain with Bill and Cohn. Brett and Mike are supposed to meet up with them in Pamplona; when they don’t show up, Jake and Bill leave for a fishing trip while Cohn stays behind to wait. In Burguete, Jake and Bill enjoy several days of peaceful fishing. They return to Pamplona and meet up with Brett, Mike, and Cohn. They stay at the Hotel Montoya, the owner of which is Jake’s friend and fellow bullfighting aficionado. The festival begins, and the group’s drunken behavior escalates.

Jake considers Pedro Romero a true bullfighter and admires his style. As Brett falls for Romero, Mike directs his anger at Cohn and verbally attacks him. Mike reveals that, while Jake and Bill were in Burguete, Cohn traveled to San Sebastian to follow Brett. Jake reluctantly helps Brett find Romero; Brett and Romero later disappear together. Cohn is drunk and demands that Jake tells him where Brett is, but Jake refuses to share this information. Cohn calls Jake a pimp and punches him out. Later, after Cohn begs for forgiveness, Jake hesitantly accepts his apology. It is soon revealed that, after attacking Jake, Cohn found Brett in Romero’s hotel room and brutally beat up Romero.

Cohn leaves town and the others go to the bullfights. Romero, though badly hurt, puts on a sensational show. He is carried away on the shoulders of his countrymen. The festival ends, and Brett and Romero leave town together.

Jake, Bill, and Mike drive up to Bayonne and soon part ways. Jake decides to spend some time relaxing alone in San Sebastian, but Brett sends him a telegram requesting that he come to Madrid. When Jake meets her there, Romero has left, and she says she will return to Mike. In a taxi, Brett ruefully expresses that she and Jake “could have had such a damned good time together” (251). Jake replies, “Yes. Isn’t it pretty to think so?” (251).

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