The Sun Also Rises


Plot Summary

The Sun Also Rises opens with a lengthy character description of Robert Cohn, who we are told was a boxing champion when he attended college at Princeton. The son of a wealthy Jewish couple, Cohn married an affluent woman right out of college, established a literary journal, and had three children. When his wife divorced him, he began a relationship with the controlling and possessive Frances Clyne, who convinced him to expatriate to Europe where he began writing novels. As the story opens, it is the mid-1920s. Cohn has recently returned from a trip to New York, where his latest novel has been praised by the publishers, and he is developing confidence and an interest in other women, which Frances finds quite threatening. The narrator, Jake Barnes, is one of Cohn’s two friends in Paris, where the action of the first part of the novel takes place.

Jake is a World War I veteran and journalist at the Paris office of an unspecified newspaper. Cohn drops by his office one afternoon to try and convince Jake to travel to South America with him. Jake is not interested in going to South America. Later that day, Jake picks up a Paris prostitute, Georgette, and takes her out to dinner. He then brings her to a dance club, where they meet up with several of Jake’s acquaintances, including Cohn and Frances. The beautiful Brett Ashley also appears at the club with her own entourage, and it is obvious that Jake knows her and is probably in love with her. Cohn develops an instant, transparent attraction to Brett, as well. She leaves the club in a taxi with Jake. In the taxi, it becomes clear that the two have a history. They kiss, but Brett begs Jake to stop. It is obvious that two are in love with one another but that Jake has been injured in the war in such a way as to render him impotent. After a few more drinks at a club, where they also meet up with Count Mippipopolous, Jake goes home depressed and alone. Brett drunkenly drops by Jake’s apartment in the middle of the night, and they have another frustrating and painful conversation before she leaves again.

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