The Sun Also Rises: Novel Summary: Book II – Chapters XVI – XVII

Chapter XVI
The fifth day of the fiesta is struck with heavy rain. There are no bullfights, and the people congregate in the cafs and wine-shops. Jake is in his room shaving when Montoya walks in. Montoya mentions that the American ambassador is in town. Jake remarks that he knows that. Eventually, Montoya says that he has been asked to tell Romero to come to the Grand Hotel to meet with the American ambassador. Jake tells him not to give Romero the message, and they both agree that it would be a mistake to involve a young bullfighter in the decadence that such a connection might lead to. They worry that it might ruin him as a bullfighter. There is an American woman at the fiesta, Jake says, who collects bullfighters. Montoya leaves, happy that Jake has confirmed his decision.
Jake finds the group in the hotel. Bill is buying repeated shoe-shines for Mike. He is sitting with his friends and not as drunk as they are, and he notices Romero sitting at the table next to him. He soon joins Romero and his companion, a bullfight critic. They talk about Romeros English, and Jake finds out more about him. Jake says that he likes Romeros work very much. Romero asks how many times he has seen him in the ring, and Jake says three times in error. He says that he saw him once in Madrid, which he had read about and felt safe lying about. Romero talks about his work, and Jake thinks about how Romero manages to talk about it as something apart from himself, without bragging.
Brett remarks to Jake that he has deserted their table. Mike yells an obscene comment about bulls, and Jake apologizes for his friends and says that they are very drunk. Romero asks them to join him, and they move to a bigger table to accommodate everyone. Bill asks Jake to tell Romero that he is a writer, and Jake also mentions that Cohn is a writer. Romero asks what Mike does, and Jake says that he is waiting to marry Brett. Mike starts yelling inappropriate things for Jake to tell Romero, mostly about Brett being attracted to Romero. Mike proposes a toast, but Jake interrupts and makes it a toast to Romero. Shortly after this, Romero and his friend leave.
At this point, Mike gets annoyed with Jake for interrupting him. Cohn steps in and tells Mike that no one interrupted him. Mike takes his frustration out on Cohn, asking him if he thinks that anyone really wants him there. He tells him he should know when hes not wanted and should leave. He tries to appeal to others to agree with him, but Jake tries to change the subject and Brett tells Mike to quiet down. Mike orders Cohn to go away, and Cohn calmly refuses. Mike says he will make him, and starts walking toward Cohn. Cohn takes off his glasses and stands ready for battle. Jake steps in and convinces Mike not to start a fight, and drags him out to the caf.
Bill and Brett join them. They wander into the caf but cant get a seat, so they find another bar. They have acquired a friend of Bills from Biarritz. Bill and Mike become annoyed at the English people at the caf, and take Bills friend with them to go confront them. Brett rudely tells Cohn, who is with them, to go to bed because she and Jake want to talk. When Cohn is gone, Brett says she is sick of him, that he depresses her, and that he has behaved very badly. She says that Mike, too, has behaved very badly. She says that Jake would not have, if he were in Cohns position. They leave the bar, and they see Cohn hiding in the arcade, waiting to follow them around. They both say that they hate him.
Brett and Jake take a walk and sit on the city wall, staring at the landscape. As they walk back through the park, Brett says she is in love with Romero, and that it has been difficult, being chased by Cohn and troubled by Mike. She seems to ask for Jakes help meeting Romero. They return to the caf and find Romero sitting with some other bullfighters and critics. Brett sits, talking to herself, calling herself names. Eventually Romero comes to their table and sits down with them. Brett and Romero begin talking, partly through Jake as interpreter. After a few minutes, Jake stands up and says he is going to get his friends. He exchanges a look with Romero, and they seem to understand each other. He leaves the caf, and comes back twenty minutes later, but Brett and Romero are gone.
Chapter XVII
Jake finds Bill and Mike and Edna, Bills friend. They say that they have been thrown out of the bar by the police. They talk for a few minutes about the English in the bar who seemed to know Mike and called him a bankrupt. Bill is upset by that, and when they decide to go to another caf, Bill disappears.
Jake, Mike, and Edna find a table at another bar, and are soon joined by Cohn. He asks Jake where Brett is. Jake says he doesnt know. Cohn asks again and again, and insists that Jake knows. Jake says that even if he knew, he wouldnt tell him. Mike yells out that Brett is on her honeymoon with Romero. Cohn looks to Jake for confirmation, but he wont give it. Cohn calls Jake a pimp, and Jake tries to punch him. Cohn, the boxer, dodges and hits back. Jake tries to stand up, and Cohn hits him twice and knocks him out. Edna and the waiters eventually wake him up, and he discovers that Cohn is gone, and that Mike was knocked down, too. Jake decides to go back to the hotel, and he convinces Mike and Edna to let him.
Jake has serious problems walking across the town and climbing the stairs to his hotel. When he gets almost to his room, Bill stops him and tells him that he needs to talk to Cohn. Jake tries to resist, but Bill persists, and Jake agrees to go talk to Cohn.
Jake finds Cohn in his room, lying in bed, face down, crying. Cohn asks Jake to forgive him for knocking him out, but Jake is unwilling at first. Cohn says that he was crazy because of Brett. Jake finally gives in and says that he will forgive Cohn. Cohn says that he is leaving in the morning, and that everything is gone, and nothing is any use. He seems to be in total despair. They shake hands, and Jake leaves to find the bathroom. He tries to take a bath, and cant make it work, so he goes to bed.
Jake wakes up early in the morning to the noise of the bands. He goes downstairs to escort Edna to the ring for the running of the bulls, but he has missed it. He finds out that Bill and Mike took her. So Jake joins the crowd headed toward the ring, and watches as one bull gores and kills a drunken man who tried to play with the running bulls.
Jake returns to the caf and waits for his friends to return. The waiter asks about the events at the ring, and Jake tells him about the man. The waiter says that the entire sport is crazy.
Jake returns to his room and is joined by Mike and Bill. They talk about the craziness inside the ring, and Ednas reaction. Another drunk tripped a large group of people, and the bulls ran through a crowd of people. They ask how Jake feels, and he says that his jaw is sore. He learns what happened to Cohn after he knocked Jake out and before he showed up in the hotel where Jake talked to him. Mike and Bill tell Jake about Cohns visit to Brett and Romero. Apparently, Cohn beat up Romero, and Romero kept getting up to be beaten. Eventually, Cohn offered to take Brett away and Brett told him how she felt. Cohn wouldnt hit Romero anymore, and Romero wouldnt stop getting up to fight. He told Cohn to leave town or he would kill him. Cohn attempted to shake hands with Romero, but Romero hit him in the face.
Mike admits hes bothered by the relationship between Romero and Brett, and talks briefly about Brett and Lord Ashley, her former husband, who used to sleep with a revolver at his side and tell her he would kill her. He says that Brett is taking care of Romero. He goes back to his room to get some sleep, and Jake and Bill hear him order six more bottles of beer and a bottle of brandy. Jake and Bill talk briefly about Bills return to the bar to confront the English. Jake tells Bill that a man was killed on the way into the ring, and he seems surprised.
Analysis, Chapters XVI – XVII
There are numerous conflicts and failures in these two chapters, and they seem to be working together to create a sense of loss and purposelessness. Cohn is forced to confront Bretts promiscuity and realizes that he has drastically misread his situation with her. And Mike, confronted with the uncomfortable fact of his fiances persistent infidelity, seems to embrace an alcoholism that sounds extreme to two heavy drinkers. Jake allows himself to be talked into surrendering a bullfighter with tremendous potential to the manipulation of Brett, only a short time after warning Montoya about an American woman who was looking to accomplish the same thing. Jakes surrender becomes the most significant and the most dangerous because Romero represents the greatest hope the novel offers of something sincere, real, and meaningful.