The Sun Also Rises: Novel Summary: Book II – Chapters XI – XII

Chapter XI
Jake and Bill board a bus to Burguete among several Basque peasants. Cohn saves a seat next to Bill on top of the bus for Jake while he buys some wine for the trip. When Jake comes back, Cohn stands in the shade watching them. The bus is crowded, and Bill and Jake begin to talk to some of the passengers. One Basque rider, lying on the floor in front of them, offers Jake a wineskin and makes a noise while he is drinking so that Jake spills some of his wine. They share the bottle with several riders, who pass it around, taking turns drinking.
The bus stops for some packages and continues up into the mountains. Jake carefully describes the scenery, including the mules and peasants they pass on the road. They eventually make a longer stop, and several passengers get off. Bill and Jake spend some time in a bar, where they trade buying rounds of drinks with some Basque passengers. When they get back on the bus, they talk to an old Basque man who speaks English and says he lived in the United States for fifteen years. His ability to speak English seems to impress the other Basque passengers. They drive for a while longer and enter a large forest. Eventually they arrive at Burguete, and Jake points out an old monastery, Roncesvalles. They get off the bus and are briefly questioned by a police officer about the fishing rods and their fishing permits.
They enter the inn and speak to the owner, a large woman. Bill complains about the cold. They go to the dining room, and Jake asks about the rate. The owner quotes a very high price, and Jake comments that he paid the same in Pamplona. She doesnt change the price, but says that the price includes the wine. Jake returns to the dining room, and he and Bill decide to have a hot rum punch. Jake tells the cook how to make it. They eat dinner, and drink quite a bit of wine to retaliate for the high price of the room.
Chapter XII
Jake wakes up early to gather worms for fishing bait. On the way back to his room he asks for coffee and a lunch to take fishing with them. He convinces Bill to get out of bed, and they go down for lunch. During lunch, Bill and Jake trade jokes about irony and pity. Bill asks Jake to say something pitiful, and Jake says, “Robert Cohn.” Bill asks Jake to explain what he means, but Jake replies that its too early in the morning. Bill continues in a humorous way, making jokes about Jake being an expatriate, and the things that expatriates do (drink, become obsessed with sex, talk more than work). In this vein, Bill says that one group claims expatriates are supported by women, another that expatriates are impotent. Jake says he just had an accident. Bill seems to feel awkward for a moment, but Jake wants Bill to keep talking in this way, so he brings the conversation back to something silly Bill had said. Bill continues, eventually telling Jake that hes a “good guy,” saying that he is fond of him, and saying that he couldnt say that in New York because it would suggest that he was a homosexual. He then suggests that Lincoln and Grant (and Jefferson Davis) were homosexual, and seems to run out of things to say.
Jake and Bill pack up and walk down the road toward the woods and the river. They eventually end up on the river after a considerable hike. They put their rods together and start fishing, Bill fishing flies and Jake fishing bait. They are at a small dam. They walk to different parts of the river, Jake fishing off the dam and Bill further down the river. Jake finishes first with six trout, cleans them and packs them in his bag, and sits down to read. Bill joins him in a little while with four larger trout. They sit down for lunch, and talk briefly about William Jennings Bryans death, and make jokes about Prohibition. Eventually they finish the wine and lie down to sleep. Bill asks if Jake was ever in love with Brett, and Jake admits that he was. When Bill says that hes sorry, Jake says that he doesnt care about it anymore, and that hed rather not talk about it. Bill asks, also, if Jake is really a Catholic. They wake up a few hours later, pack up their food, fish, and rods, and start the hike back.
Jake says that they stayed for five days in Burguete, and that they were eventually joined by an Englishman named Harris, who went fishing with them twice. They havent heard anything from Mike, Brett, or Cohn.
Analysis, Chapters XI – XII
These two chapters, narrating Bill and Jakes fishing trip, comprise a brief interlude of masculine pleasure and connection with nature before the complex final section with Brett, Cohn, Mike, and the bullfights. Bill and Jake are mostly making jokes and enjoying themselves the entire time. The chapters spend a lot of time, too, describing the details of the natural world around them. Jake seems very interested in the landscape on the bus ride into Burguete; he also spends some time describing the trees and the land formations as he and Bill hike to the river to fish. Clearly, this section of the book represents a far more pleasant and simple life than even the visit to Pamplona. There is a sense of balance, order, and peace in these chapters that does not occur in the early or the late chapters.