Summary and Analysis Chapter XI



Jake and Bill set out on their fishing trip, riding a bus from Pamplona to Burguete. The Basques aboard the bus share their wine with the Americans. Finally, Jake and Bill check into an inn at Burguete, where they eat supper and go to sleep.


This is a transitional chapter, the main purpose of which is to get Jake and Bill from their home base in Pamplona to Burguete, their fishing-vacation spot. Still, notice the reiteration of both characterization and theme. For instance, Robert Cohn does not participate in the drinking from the Basques' wineskin while the bus loads before leaving Pamplona, a reminder that he doesn't live life as unselfconsciously, as actively, as fully as do Jake and Bill.

Hemingway repeats the theme of "a simple exchange of values" in this chapter. Regarding the wine they have shared, the English-speaking Basque on the bus asks Jake and Bill, "You can't get this in America, eh?" — to which one of them (Bill, probably) replies, "There's plenty if you can pay for it." Later, Jake feels that they're being overcharged by the innkeeper in Burguete, but he finally submits: "Well, I thought, it's only a few days," he tells us. He and Bill proceed to help themselves to the inn's liquor, to compensate. In life, however, there is no recompense for a raw deal — as only Jake knows for certain.

Hemingway understood that dialogue is more than what is said between characters in conversation; dialogue is what's not said, as well — as when Jake asks how much the room in the inn will cost and the innkeeper "put her hands under her apron and looked away" before responding. And of course, the bravura description of the physical world continues in Chapter XI, both during the bus trip through the countryside and at the inn itself, where we can practically feel, as we read, how cold it is. The latter effect is the result of Hemingway's emphasis on concrete detail: the sweaters Jake and Bill don, their visible breath, the steaming pitcher of hot rum punch and the bowl of hot vegetable soup, the sound of the wind blowing when the men read in bed at night.

And the black humor at Jake's expense continues with the mention by Hemingway of two teams of mules observed on the way to Burguete. The interspecies offspring of a horse and a donkey, a mule is sterile, and cannot reproduce — just like Jake.


klaxon a kind of electric horn with a loud, shrill sound.

Arriba (Spanish) up, upwards.

posada (Spanish) an inn.

arriero (Spanish) mule driver.

aguardiente (Spanish) clear brandy

Roncesvalles a pass through the Pyrenees, near the French border in the Navarra province of Spain, utilized often by pilgrims from Paris to Santiago de Compostela.

Roncevaux French name for Roncesvalles.

Nuestra Señora de Roncesvalles Our Lady of Roncesvalles.

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