The Sun Also Rises: Novel Summary: Book III – Chapter XIX

Chapter XIX
The fiesta has ended, and the people of Pamplona are cleaning up. Jake and Bill sit in the caf. Bill says he is going back to Paris, and Jake says he will stay away another week, while Mike plans to go to Saint Jean de Luz. They take the car through Basque country back to Bayonne. When they arrive, they drive to Biarritz, find a bar there and have a few drinks. They roll dice to determine who pays for the drinks, and Mike loses three in a row. He says that he cant afford the last round, and Bill asks him what hes going to do for money. He replies that he can live cheaply at a pub in Saint Jean. Bill asks Mike if Brett has any money. Mike says probably not, since she paid most of his hotel bill in Pamplona. Mike says that she has only a small allowance each year, and that most of it is used to pay interest on old debts.
They leave the bar and decide to drive around the coast. After dropping Mike off at his hotel at Saint Jean, Bill and Jake take the car back to Bayonne, where Bill catches a train back to Paris and he and Jake say goodbye. Bill will be leaving for the United States shortly after his return to Paris, and they wont see each other.
Jake asks the driver how much it would be to take him to San Sebastian, but the price is too high, so he checks into the same hotel that he stayed in at Bayonne with Cohn and Bill, and even stays in the same room. He has a pleasant dinner in the hotel, where he tries a liqueur that the waiter says is made from the flowers of the Pyrenees. He doesnt like it, and the waiter is a little offended. He tips the waiter too much, and the waiter suddenly likes him. He tips everyone in Bayonne too much that day, and he says that it makes him more friends. In France, he says, things are much more clear because everything is about money. In Spain, it is not so clear.
In the morning, he takes a train to San Sebastian. He checks into a hotel and then goes to the beach to swim. After swimming, he walks up to a caf and has a drink alone. He returns to the hotel for dinner, and there are a number of bicycle riders in town at the hotel for a road race. He watches their table and listens to their conversations.
Later he has coffee with one of the managers of a big bicycle manufacturer. The manager tries to impress him with talk about bicycle races, and offers to call him early the next morning to help him wake up to watch the race. He avoids the call, and does not watch the race the next morning. He goes swimming again. After sitting on the beach for a while, he returns to his hotel and reads the sporting magazines that the cyclists left lying around. He receives two telegrams from Brett asking him to come to the Hotel Montana in Madrid, because she is “rather in trouble.”
Jake quickly makes arrangements to leave on the fastest available train, and sends a telegram that he will arrive the next day, and signs it “love.” He thinks for a moment about how pathetic he is, having sent Brett off with Cohn, introducing her to Romero for the same thing, and then going back to get her and signing with love.
He shortly arrives at Bretts hotel, where they wont let him in until Brett agrees to see him. He finds her in her room, having sent Romero away. She isnt sure why she sent him away, except that she realized she shouldnt be with him. She says that she realized he shouldnt be living with anyone, and Jake agrees. She says that Romero was ashamed of her for a little while, because Romeros friends and followers made fun of her short hair. She says that Romero wanted her to grow it out to make her look more “womanly.” Romero also wanted to marry her. She says that they were happy together, and that they would have stayed together if she hadnt realized that it was bad for him. She admits her age (thirty-four), and says that she doesnt want to be a woman who ruins children, and then starts crying. She says shes going back to Mike, and that hes her kind of man.
They leave the hotel, and the woman wont let him pay the bill, saying that it has been paid already, apparently by Romero. They get tickets on the train for the evening, and go into the bar at the Palace Hotel for drinks. Brett keeps talking about Romero, first about how young he is (only nineteen), then about how hes only been with two other women. Jake remarks that she said she would never talk about it again, but that she keeps talking about it. Shell lose it if she keeps talking about it, he says. Brett says that it makes her feel good deciding not to be nasty, and that it is “what we have instead of God.” Jake responds that a lot of people have God.
They take a cab to a famous restaurant called Botins for lunch. Jake eats a big lunch and drinks three or four bottles of wine. Brett doesnt eat much. Jake continues to drink, and Brett tells him twice that he doesnt have to get drunk. When they finish, they decide to take a taxi ride around Madrid. They are stopped suddenly, and Brett is pressed against him. She says that they could have had such a good time together. Jake says, in the last line, “Isnt it pretty to think so?”
Analysis, Chapter XIX
The novel is clearly winding down, with characters being sent home or, in the case of Mike, to places where they can survive. That Romero survives Brett becomes a testament to his greatness. But the group has changed, and the experience of driving back through Spain to Bayonne is very different after the experience of the fiesta. The book ends with what seems like despair: the impossible love between Jake and Brett, driving both of them to jealousy, irresponsibility, and other immoral acts that they wouldnt do otherwise, doesnt even have the beauty that they seem to be so upset about. In other words, the last lines of the novel make the reader wonder if Jake and Brett, if there were no wound, could have a meaningful relationship, or if the impossibility created by the wound is the source of the relationship.