Summary and Analysis
When Jake returns to his apartment, the concierge tells him that a lady and a gentleman, apparently Brett and the Count, stopped by to see him when he was out. Jake receives a telegram from his friend Bill Gorton, an American writer, saying that Bill is about to arrive in France via steamship. Brett and the Count return. While the Count is out seeking champagne, Jake expresses his love for Brett and asks if they can live together, but she tells him it would be impossible because she would be tempted to cheat on him. She also tells him that she is about to travel to San Sebastian, a coastal town in the Basque region of Spain. When the Count returns, all three drink together, eat dinner, and go to a nightclub in Montmartre, where Jake and Brett dance and she tells him she feels miserable. Jake takes her home, and they part.
This is a significant chapter with respect to the characterization of Brett. First, we learn from the concierge in Jake's building (a harsh judge of character, apparently) that Brett is nice and well-bred. By contrast, after sending the Count out for champagne, Brett seems somewhat insensitive to Jake's pain; she says that if they lived together, she'd cheat on him. (At least she's honest.) "It's my fault," Brett says. "It's the way I'm made." Brett allows the ashes from her cigarette to drop on Jake's carpet; when he notices, she blames him for not leaving an ashtray out. "You're always drinking, my dear," the Count says later. Again, Hemingway is using the dialogue of one character to characterize another.
After dinner, the Count (who is unaware of Jake's sexual handicap) suggests that Jake and Brett marry, thus confirming our suspicions that they are meant for each other. And at the end of the evening, at the club where it is subtly implied that Brett had an affair with one of the black musicians, she tells Jake that she feels miserable. She stops him from kissing her, tells him not to "come up" (note the cruel humor on Hemingway's part), and finally says, "I won't see you again." Apparently their inability to consummate their love hurts Brett nearly as much as it does Jake.
Jake himself tells Brett, for the first time in the novel, that he loves her. "Couldn't we live together?" he begs of her, in one of the novel's many heartbreaking moments. "Couldn't we just live together?" Again, Hemingway uses one character to tell us how another is behaving: "Don't look like that, darling," Brett says to Jake. The writer hasn't told us exactly what "like that" is, but we can guess from the context.
The importance of truly living life, rather than merely reading about it in books, is reiterated in this chapter, as when Jake recommends that the Count write a book on wine and the Count responds, "[A]ll I want out of wines is to enjoy them." (Remember that Robert Cohn is a writer of books — and a reader about, rather than a liver of, life.) The Count has been, he says "in seven wars and four revolutions," and he has the scars (from two arrows!) to prove it. Brett's response: "I told you he was one of us. Didn't I?" Jake has a war wound, too — as does Brett, though hers left no physical scars. Again, Cohn is not a veteran. The Count explains that it's because he has lived so much that he can "enjoy everything so well." The Count is one of the aging mentors that people Hemingway's novels and stories; other examples are Montoya, later in The Sun Also Rises, and Count Greffi, in A Farewell to Arms.
Her lodge the concierge's booth in the lobby of Jake's building.
gentille (French) pretty, nice, graceful; amiable, pleasing.
très (French) very.
monsieur (French) sir, mister.
quelqu'une (French) such a one.
pelouse (French) lawn.
pesage (French) paddock.
chez (French) the home of.
the France a luxury ocean liner.
a brick (Old Informal) a fine person.
hell's own (Slang) the ultimate with respect to.
drag (Slang) influence that gains special or undeserved favors; pull.
siphon siphon bottle, a heavy, sealed bottle with a tube on the inside connected at the top with a nozzle and valve which, when opened, allows the flow of pressurized, carbonated water contained within.
tromper (French) to trick
bilge (Slang) worthless or silly talk or writing; nonsense.
San Sebastian a seaport in the Basque region of northern Spain.
Veuve Cliquot a brand of champagne.
that stick apparently, the Count uses a walking stick or cane.
ruddy a euphemism for bloody (British Informal); confounded.
magnum a wine bottle holding about 1.5 liters, about twice as much as the usual bottle.
Abyssinia the former name for the country now known as Ethiopia.
the hill Montmartre.
" unclear. Perhaps the drummer is chanting, then singing, an obscenity.