Summary and Analysis
After Brett stands him up, Jake takes a taxi to a café on the Left Bank, where he has a drink with a writer named Harvey Stone. Apparently, Stone is on a drinking binge; Jake gives him money for food. They're joined by Robert Cohn. Stone leaves to buy dinner, and Cohn's lover, Frances, arrives. She asks to speak with Jake privately, then tells him that she believes Cohn is maneuvering to break up with her, despite the fact that they are engaged to be married. When Jake and Frances return to the table where Cohn has been sitting, Frances berates him harshly, and Jake slips away.
This chapter's main purpose is characterization. We discover here that Jake is generous, as he offers a hundred francs to the alcoholic writer Harvey Stone. Also, by virtue of Frances's desire to speak with him in private about her troubles with Cohn, we learn that Jake is the sort of person in whom others, particularly women, feel comfortable confiding. As the novel proceeds, Brett will continue to confide in Jake, even at the expense of his feelings.
In Chapter VI, Hemingway characterizes Cohn himself by using all four of the means available to a writer:
Via the use of these four methods of characterization, Hemingway offers us a three-dimensional, textured, believably contradictory portrait of one of his main characters. About a fifth of the way through The Sun Also Rises, the reader "gets" Robert Cohn, and this is no accident. Notice, as you read on, how Hemingway uses these methods to characterize Jake himself, Brett, Mike Campbell, Jake's friend Bill, and Pedro Romero — the ensemble cast of this short yet complex novel. For all the talk of Hemingway's revolutionary prose style, we love books like this one, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls for their brilliantly drawn and, therefore, unforgettable characters.
Though the statement is debatable, Hemingway gives The Sun Also Rises an improvisatory feel when he has Jake tell us, "Somehow I feel as if I have not shown Robert Cohn clearly." It is as if we are reading the story as it is being written by Jake, flaws and all. Perhaps this approach was influenced not only by Joyce's stream-of-consciousness technique and by F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose The Great Gatsby employs the same technique, but by jazz (a largely improvised music), which was sweeping not just the United States but Paris, as well, in the 1920s.
sweep a long oar
Fontainbleau a town in northern France, near Paris; the site of a palace of former kings of France.
Montereau town in northern France, on the Seine southeast of Paris.
Mencken H.L. (1880–1956); U.S. writer, editor, and critic.
He had a pile of saucers in front of him As each saucer represents one drink brought by the waiter, Stone has been drinking for a long time.
porto port, a sweet fortified wine usually served after a meal.
Lenglen Suzanne Lenglen (1899–1938); Wimbledon singles champion 1919–1923.
the Lilas Closerie des Lilas, a café.
the Ritz a Parisian hotel founded by Cesar Ritz (1850–1918), Swiss hotel owner.
little chickens young girlfriends.
we that live by the sword shall perish by the sword paraphrase of Matthew 26:52.
Hardy Thomas (1840–1928); English novelist and poet.
Anatole France pseudonym of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault (1844–1924); French novelist and literary critic.
Lourdes a town in southwestern France to which Roman Catholics travel so as to be healed of injuries, illnesses, and so on.