Here you will find a The Sun Also Rises summary (Ernest Hemingway's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.
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The story begins with Jake Barnes, a World War I veteran and journalist living in Paris, describing Robert Cohn, his wealthy, writer friend who is unsatisfied with his controlling girlfriend, Frances Clyne, and his life in Paris. Cohn tries to persuade Jake to accompany him to South America but fails. One night, Jake encounters Lady Brett Ashley, his war-time love, at a dance club, who despite loving him, won't commit to him due to his war-inflicted impotence. The next day, after Cohn expresses interest in Brett, Jake reveals her impending marriage to Mike Campbell, a Scottish war veteran with a drinking problem. Brett pays Jake a surprise visit later that night, accompanied by Count Mippipopolous, and announces her departure to San Sebastian in Spain for a break. Jake, while Brett and Cohn are away, makes plans with another friend, Bill Gorton, a fellow war veteran, to go fishing in Spain and to attend the fiesta at Pamplona. After a surprise visit from Brett and Mike, Jake learns that Brett and Cohn had been together in San Sebastian. Jake and Bill then travel to meet Cohn in Bayonne, France, and together proceed to Pamplona, Spain. They expect to meet Brett and Mike there, but upon their no-show, Jake and Bill head to Burguete for their fishing trip while Cohn decides to wait for Brett. After five enjoyable days of fishing, they return to Pamplona to reunite with the group and watch the bulls being unloaded for the upcoming fiesta's bullfights. The fiesta starts with much celebration and the first bullfight, where Pedro Romero, a young prodigy, captivates Brett. She convinces Jake to introduce her to Romero, after which they spend the night together. This results in a confrontation between Cohn and the group, ending in a fistfight. Cohn also attacks Romero upon discovering him with Brett, but unsuccessfully tries to make amends later. Romero, despite being injured, performs remarkably at the bullfight and dedicates his victory to Brett. The two leave for Madrid, leaving Jake, Bill, and Mike behind as the fiesta ends. Jake later receives a plea from Brett to meet her in Madrid, where he finds out that she has ended things with Romero and wishes to return to Mike. As they leave Madrid, Brett expresses regret about their unrealized potential as a couple, with Jake agreeing nostalgically.
Jake Barnes, the story’s main character, introduces Robert Cohn, a wealthy Jewish individual from New York. Experiencing prejudice at Princeton, Cohn turned to boxing to boost his confidence, even becoming the university’s middleweight champion. After graduation, he quickly married, fathered three kids, but eventually lost his inherited wealth and his wife. Post-divorce, Cohn relocated to California, mingled with literary figures, and invested in a magazine. He also got entangled with Frances Clyne, a scheming social climber. Following his magazine’s failure, Frances convinced Cohn to move to Paris with the expatriates. In Paris, Jake becomes one of few friends of Cohn who starts writing and completes a novel. Frances, now ageing and losing her charm, becomes insistent on marrying Cohn. Jake, dining with them, senses this change in Frances’s behavior. During the dinner, when Cohn proposes a weekend trip and Jake suggests visiting a female acquaintance in Strasbourg, France, Cohn kicks Jake under the table until he notices Frances’s disapproval. Later, Cohn clarifies to Jake that Frances forbids him from going on trips involving other women.
Cohn heads to New York that winter to secure a publisher for his book. His confidence soars as publishers commend his work and several women express interest in him. He also wins a considerable sum at bridge. The success and an inspiring tale of an English gentleman's journey fuels Cohn's yearning for travel. Once back in Paris, he tries to convince Jake to accompany him on a South American trip, promising to foot the entire bill. He expresses his fear of not living life to its fullest, to which Jake retorts that only bullfighters live “all the way up.” To escape Cohn's incessant nagging, Jake suggests they go downstairs for a drink, knowing it will make it easier to dismiss him later. At the bar, Cohn doesn't let up, continuing to pester Jake about the need to escape Paris. He laments his boredom with Paris and the Latin Quarter. Jake counters that moving around won't resolve Cohn's dissatisfaction, stating, “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” Post-drink, Jake claims he needs to get back to work. Cohn asks if he could wait outside his office. Jake agrees, and once done with work, they both enjoy another drink while observing the Parisian crowd in the evening.
Following Cohn's departure, Jake remains in the café and catches the attention of Georgette, an attractive sex worker. They share a drink and Jake decides they should have dinner together. They take a horse cab for their dinner date. During the ride, Georgette flirts with Jake, but he declines, claiming illness. At dinner, he reveals his impotence due to a war injury, a topic Georgette condemns but Jake avoids. The awkward exchange is interrupted when Jake's friends, including Cohn and Frances, invite him and Georgette to a dance. In the packed and humid night club, Lady Brett Ashley enters with a group of youthful men in jerseys. Jake shows aversion towards Brett's companions. Brett mentions that she can drink freely around these men, while Jake negatively refers to one of their dancing styles. He admits he should be accepting, but can't help his repulsion, suggesting the men might be gay. Cohn invites Jake for a drink and Brett accompanies them. Cohn's attempts to convince Brett to dance are unsuccessful, and she leaves with Jake. Before their exit, Jake gives fifty francs to the club's owner for Georgette should she inquire about him. Once Brett and Jake are in a taxi, Brett confesses her unhappiness.
Jake and Brett share a taxi ride through Paris. He tries to kiss her but she rejects his advances due to his impotence from a war injury. Brett feels she's paying for the torment she's caused men. Jake dismisses his issue as insignificant. Before reaching a café, Brett lets Jake kiss her again. At the café, they meet friends and Count Mippipopolous, a Greek man fascinated by Brett. They plan to meet the following day, and Jake heads home. At home, Jake's thoughts dwell on his war injury, which he sustained during a mission in Italy. People make a bigger issue of it than he does. A hospital visit from a colonel reminiscing how Jake "gave more than his life" crosses his mind. He believes his life would've been trouble-free without meeting Brett. He cries himself to sleep. He is awakened at 4 am by Brett trying to bypass the concierge. She informs Jake about Count Mippipopolous's $10,000 offer to join him in Biarritz, which she refused. Though Jake declines joining them and attempts to make Brett stay with him, she insists on leaving.
Jake and Cohn decide to grab lunch together at Jake's office. Inquiring about Brett, Jake reveals her drinking habits and forthcoming marriage to Mike Campbell, a future wealthy Scotsman. He shares that Brett lost her beloved to dysentery during the war and that they met while Brett was serving as a V.A.D. (Volunteer Aid Detachment) at his hospital. Cohn is upset by Jake's less-than-flattering portrayal of Brett, inciting a spat between them. After Cohn threatens to leave, Jake placates him enough for him to stay. Jake senses Cohn's desire to discuss Brett further but refrains from broaching the topic again.
Jake plans to see Brett in the evening, but she doesn't show up. He searches for her across Paris, eventually bumping into his friend Harvey Stone, a habitual gambler who's out of cash and hasn't eaten in a while. Jake hands him some money. As they stroll, they run into Cohn, who is awaiting Frances. Harvey throws an insult at Cohn, calling him an idiot, then departs to get some food. Upon Frances' arrival, she asks for a private conversation with Jake. She reveals that Cohn is refusing to marry her and she's afraid no other man will either. Jake tries to stay impartial. Frances shares that she won't get alimony from her ex-husband because she divorced him quickly; her problems are compounded by the fact that no one is interested in her written work. She proposes they go back to Cohn, putting on a brave face. In Cohn's presence, she informs Jake that Cohn gave her two hundred pounds to travel to England but she had to press him for it. She sarcastically speaks about the disagreeable trips to "friends" she'll have to endure in England, all because Cohn wants to get rid of her in an organized fashion. She believes Cohn refuses to marry her so he can brag about once having a mistress. Cohn quietly endures her rant. Jake takes this as his cue to exit, leaving the two alone.
Jake reunites with Brett and Count Mippipopolous at his place. He questions Brett about their missed meeting, but isn't convinced by her claim of forgetting due to intoxication. When Brett suggests sending the Count out, Jake advises against it. However, she sends the Count to fetch champagne. Jake puts forth the proposal of living together but Brett rejects it, fearing she would betray him and make him miserable. She reveals plans to depart for San Sebastian in Spain, believing it to be beneficial for both. The Count returns, bearing champagne, and shares his life philosophy. Having experienced seven wars and four revolutions, he claims his rich life experiences enable him to savor everything. He professes love as a key component of his core values. After a jovial dinner, they head to a club. The Count inquires about Brett and Jake's marital status, receiving terse, untruthful responses. Brett, feeling down, decides to leave. Jake escorts Brett to her hotel, but she declines his company in her room. They exchange multiple kisses before she ultimately pushes him away.
Jake loses touch with Brett and Cohn for some time. A short letter arrives from Brett, who's holidaying in San Sebastian, along with a note from Cohn stating he's gone to the country. Frances has journeyed to England. Jake's buddy, Bill Gorton, a U.S. veteran, comes from America. They arrange a trip to Spain for fishing and celebrating the Pamplona fiesta. Bill drops by Jake's place before heading to Budapest and Vienna. Upon return, he admits his drunkenness blurred his memory of his Vienna trip. As they search for a place to eat, they spot Brett stepping out of a taxi, marking her return to Paris which caught Jake by surprise. Jake, Bill, and Brett share a drink together. Brett excuses herself to see Mike Campbell, leaving Jake and Bill to enjoy their meal and drinks at a bustling tourist restaurant. They later encounter Brett and Mike at a café. Mike, inebriated, incessantly praises Brett's beauty and wishes to retire to their hotel early. Jake and Bill opt to watch a boxing match, giving Brett and Mike some alone time.
Jake gets a message from Cohn who wants to join him and Bill on their fishing trip in Spain. Jake agrees and later, while at a bar with Brett and Mike, the couple also asks to tag along. Jake consents. When Mike steps out, Brett queries about Cohn's inclusion in the trip, fearing it might be too "rough" for him because they had been together in San Sebastian. After some tense discussion, Jake and Brett agree that Brett should inform Cohn about her presence in Spain. Surprisingly, even after getting the news, Cohn still wants to join them. Jake decides to rendezvous with Mike and Brett in Pamplona. Meanwhile, Jake and Bill start their journey from Paris to Bayonne on a crowded train, intending to meet Cohn there. Upon arrival, they find Cohn waiting for them.
Bill, Jake, and Cohn rent a vehicle for their trip to Pamplona. Cohn, who had a previous affair with Brett, is anxious about whether Bill and Jake are aware of it. He is skeptical that Brett and her partner, Mike, would join them later, which irks Bill and Jake. Bill, in frustration, makes a hasty bet of a hundred pesetas that Brett and Mike will be punctual. Bill admits to Jake his annoyance when Cohn acts “superior and Jewish.” Jake, while collecting his bullfighting tickets, attempts to pray at a cathedral but gets distracted. Jake and Cohn go to the train station to welcome Brett and Mike, mainly to vex Cohn. However, the pair isn't on the train, causing Jake and Cohn to return to the hotel. Jake gets a telegram from Brett and Mike explaining their delay in San Sebastian due to Brett's illness. He keeps the message to himself to further agitate Cohn, but discloses to Bill and Cohn that Brett and Mike are still in San Sebastian. Bill and Jake decide to take a bus to Burguete for fishing, while Cohn opts to stay back, hoping for Brett and Mike. He confesses to Jake about his letter to Brett for a rendezvous in San Sebastian. Later, when Jake is alone with Bill, Bill reveals that Cohn confided in him regarding his “date” with Brett and voiced his view that he finds Cohn pleasant but “so awful.”
Jake and Bill hop on a busy bus to the remote town of Burguete, among Basque peasants from the Pyrenees Mountains. The peasants, freely sharing their wineskins, introduce Jake and Bill to their traditional method of drinking wine. During a stop, the pair buy some drinks, getting more from generous Basque passengers. On the resumed journey, they chat with a Basque who speaks English. Upon reaching Burguete, they are overcharged by the plump innkeeper for their room, thanks to it being “the big season.” Surprisingly, they are the only guests. Finding out that the wine is part of the package, they indulge. Finally, Jake retires, content with the warmth of the bed and thinking, “It felt good to be warm and in bed.”
Awakening early, Jake starts his day by digging for worms near a stream, filling two tobacco tins. Upon his return, Bill, in a humorous mood, talks about the popularity of irony and pity. He jests that as an expatriate, Jake wouldn't understand this obsession. Bill pokes fun at expatriates, calling them drunkards engrossed in sensuality who fail to produce any notable literature. He also alludes to some rumors about Jake’s sexual prowess and financial dependence on women. Contrary to these rumors, Jake reveals he's not impotent but had an unfortunate accident. They share a laugh about a similar incident involving another man and horseback riding. Bill confesses he holds greater affection for Jake than anyone else, adding that he couldn't express this sentiment in New York without being labeled a "faggot." He humorously suggests that the Civil War was about homosexuality and quips, “Sex explains it all." Packing food and wine, the two friends make their way to the river through picturesque landscapes. Upon reaching, they chill their wine in a nearby spring. While Jake uses worms to fish, Bill prefers fly-fishing. They catch plenty, but Bill's fish are noticeably larger. Over lunch, they reminisce about their wartime friends. Bill inquires about Jake's feelings for Brett, to which he confesses his long-term love for her. They take an afternoon nap under the trees before heading back to the inn. For five days, they indulge in fishing, dining, drinking, and card games in Burguete, without any communication from Cohn, Brett, or Mike.
Jake gets a letter from Mike about Brett fainting on their journey and their delayed arrival to Pamplona. He also receives a telegram from Cohn, who will join them later. Jake and Bill, who are set to return to Pamplona, say their goodbyes to their new friend Harris, a British war veteran. Harris gives them his address and a bunch of flies, hoping they'll remember their shared times. Arriving in Pamplona, Jake and Bill meet up with their friends at a café. Montoya, their innkeeper, thinks highly of Jake for his passion for bullfighting. Mike narrates a wartime story about giving away some medals while they all observe the bull unloading. The spectacle of the bulls being calmed down by steers leaves Brett fascinated, despite Jake's warning not to watch. They continue their night at a café, drinking heavily. Mike teases Cohn for his persistent pursuit of Brett, likening him to a steer. He criticizes him for not understanding when he's not wanted. This leads to an awkward moment, which is eased when Bill takes Cohn away. Mike, still riled up, comments on Brett's past relationships, emphasizing the difference of her being involved with a Jewish man. The evening ends with a wine-soaked dinner, effectively drowning the unease shared by the group.
Jake stumbles back to his room, heavily intoxicated one night. He overhears Brett and Mike's mirthful chatter as they retire for the night. Alone in his bed, Jake muses over the notion that men are only friends with women they love, implying that his friendship with Brett has been rewarding yet uncomplicated so far. However, he anticipates pain to eventually arise from their relationship. Jake concludes that one must pay a price for all the joys in life, encapsulating it as "Enjoying living was learning to get your money’s worth". Yet, he acknowledges the possibility of his current philosophy appearing foolish in half a decade, like his previous ones. Jake grapples with ethical dilemmas, desiring Mike to cease his taunts at Cohn, while simultaneously deriving amusement from it. The following days unfold calmly as preparations for the upcoming fiesta begin.
On July 6, the fiesta commences with the firing of rockets and a crowded square filled with joyous individuals, musicians, and dancers. This week-long celebration creates an air of unreality, where actions seem consequence-free and even money loses its significance. Jake and his companions are swept up in the festivities, dancing around Brett, and later joining the merriment in a bustling wine shop. There, Jake steps out to purchase wineskins and discovers Cohn missing upon his return. Despite the indifference from the rest of the group, Jake searches for and finds Cohn unconscious in the back of the shop. They all conclude the day with a grand meal, with everyone but Jake continuing the merrymaking throughout the night. A rocket detonation signals the release of the bulls the following dawn, rousing Jake from his sleep. Onlookers, including Jake, watch from their balconies as the crowd frantically bolts with the bulls towards the arena. The initial bullfight sees the group scattered throughout the amphitheater with Jake and Bill in closer proximity to the confrontation. They caution Brett about the gory scenes, while Cohn expresses concern about the event being dull. Meanwhile, Jake gets acquainted with Pedro Romero, a handsome young bullfighter, introduced by Montoya. Romero's performance at the ring leaves the spectators in awe. His prowess impresses Brett, while Cohn struggles with the violent spectacle. Mike ridicules Cohn's discomfort, further straining their relations. Romero's next bullfight, witnessed by Brett, Mike, and Jake, showcases his brilliant strategy and elegant moves, pleasing all, particularly bullfighting enthusiasts like Jake and Montoya. Mike teases that Brett is smitten by Romero and humorously warns her about bullfighters' supposed abusive nature. A break in bullfighting follows over the next two days, but the fiesta carries on energetically.
The morning in Pamplona begins with rain, casting a dull, foggy mood. Montoya seeks Jake's advice on a dinner invitation for Pedro Romero from the American ambassador at the Grand Hotel. They both worry about the potential corrupting influence of foreigners on Romero. Jake advises him not to pass on the invitation, mentioning an American woman with a notorious reputation for "collecting bullfighters". Jake's friends along with Romero are found dining at the hotel, where Romero is engaged in a conversation about bullfighting with a critic. He embodies passion and modesty when discussing his craft. Brett pressures Jake to introduce Romero to their group, which he does. The gathering is quite inebriated, highlighted by Mike's crude, drunken joke about bulls. Brett converses privately with Romero. Montoya, upon entering, finds Romero with Brett and Jake, but ignores Jake. Post Romero's departure, Mike verbally assaults Cohn, which Jake feels Cohn enjoys, leading Jake to intervene to avoid potential conflict. The final day of the fiesta sees an influx of English and American tourists. Bill and Mike embark to tease the English, leaving Cohn behind. However, Brett demands solitude with Jake and dismisses Cohn. She voices her concerns about Mike's behavior and Cohn’s constant presence. Jake attempts to defend Mike, which she dismisses. During their walk, she questions Jake's feelings for her and admits her attraction to Romero. She fights feelings of guilt for her actions, but feels compelled to pursue what she wants, for her self-respect. They find Romero in a café with fellow bullfighters and critics. Jake invites Romero to join them, and it's clear there's a shared attraction between him and Brett. Brett reads his palm and they discuss bullfighting, with Jake translating. Romero shares a poignant sentiment about bulls being his closest companions, and that he kills his best friends before they can kill him. Jake leaves them alone, attracting disapproving stares from Romero's companions. Upon his return, Brett and Romero have disappeared.
Jake finds Mike, Bill, and their friend Edna at a bar. The two men had previously incited a near brawl at a café among tourists. They move to another café where Cohn confronts Jake, wanting to know Brett's whereabouts. Jake doesn't divulge any information, leading Mike to reveal that she's with the bullfighter. In anger, Cohn labels Jake a pimp which causes Jake to punch him, sparking a fight. Cohn shows his physical strength, defeating Jake and Mike. After regaining consciousness, Jake returns to the hotel. Back at the hotel, Jake is informed by Bill that Cohn wishes to meet him. He finds a distraught Cohn begging for forgiveness, which Jake initially denies but eventually gives in. The next day, Jake discovers that Mike and Bill have already left for the bullfighting stadium. There is a casualty during the bull release; a man is gored to death. Ignoring the dead body, people rush to the stadium. Jake discusses the incident with a waiter at a café, who fails to see the appeal of the dangerous sport. Jake retreats to bed, only to be informed by Mike and Bill of a confrontation between Cohn, Brett, and Romero. Cohn had caught Brett and Romero together, leading to a violent encounter where Cohn repeatedly hit Romero but refused to continue after some time. Romero retaliated before collapsing. Cohn then received a harsh reprimand from Brett, who rejected his request to shake hands. Later, Brett defends her romantic liaisons when Mike expresses his dissatisfaction about her affairs with "Jews and bullfighters." She blames her misery on her noble British upbringing and her threatening husband, who used to sleep with a loaded gun. As Jake wraps up his conversation with Bill, he mentions the casualty from the bull release, to which Bill shows ignorance.
Cohn departs from Pamplona while Brett reconvenes with the group at a coffeehouse. She informs them that despite being battered, Romero still intends to participate in the bullfight. Mike responds with a snide comment: “Brett’s got a bullfighter. She had a Jew named Cohn, but he turned out badly.” As Mike creates a scene by knocking over the table, Brett ushers Jake away to a church to pray for Romero. However, she quickly grows uneasy and they return to the hotel. Montoya greets them with a reserved bow but no smile. Brett goes to Romero’s room while Jake checks in on a drunken and disheveled Mike. They eat lunch before joining Brett at the final bullfight. Romero sends his cape to Brett for safekeeping during the fight. Belmonte, an iconic bullfighter who came out of retirement for this fight, disappoints the crowd with his performance. They adore Romero’s composed and natural style, especially as he elegantly directs the bull that killed a man earlier in the day. After killing the bull, he gifts its cut ear to Brett. Later, Jake and Bill have drinks at a café, where Bill encourages a despondent Jake to down three absinthes. He later finds Mike getting drunk in his hotel room. Brett and Romero leave Pamplona by train.
Mike, Bill, and Jake head to Bayonne by car, drop off Mike at Saint Jean de Luz, and then part ways. Jake, staying in Bayonne, generously tips locals, earning their friendship. Later, he travels to San Sebastian for rest, but Brett’s urgent telegrams from Madrid cut his relaxation short. She’s in distress and wants him to come to Madrid's Hotel Montana. Jake finds Brett in Madrid. She's dismissed Romero and summoned Jake as she was out of money and uncertain of her ability to get rid of Romero herself. Despite Romero's desire to wed her and financial support, she refused both, worried she'd ruin him, and expresses her wish to return to Mike. They head to a bar and then to a well-regarded restaurant, where Jake consumes a significant amount of wine despite Brett's plea for him not to get drunk. They explore the city by taxi, and as Jake wraps his arm around her, she wistfully laments, “Oh, Jake . . . we could have had such a damned good time together.” Prompting Jake's response, “Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so?”