Summary and Analysis Chapter XVI



The hotelier Montoya visits Jake to express his concern that mixing with rich tourists will corrupt Romero. At dinner, Jake speaks with Romero and a bullfighting critic, after which Brett, clearly infatuated, invites the bullfighter to her table. As usual, Bill and Mike are drunk. Montoya looks on with disapproval; exactly what he feared has come to pass. Once again, Mike picks on Cohn, and the two nearly come to blows. Jake, Brett, Mike, and Bill move on to a café favored by foreigners, where they are joined by a female acquaintance of Bill's who will later be identified as Edna. Mike, Bill, and Edna leave Jake, Brett, and Cohn; Brett lashes out at Cohn, who leaves as well. Brett tells Jake that she feels guilty for having slept with Cohn while engaged to be married, and that she's tired of being pursued by him. She asks Jake if he loves her, and when he says that he does, she says she is in love with Romero. Jake helps Brett find Romero in a café, where they flirt openly. Jake leaves; when he returns, the two are gone.


Having finally introduced his entire ensemble cast, Hemingway begins here to use it to its fullest effect, like a chess master moving pieces around a board. Brett rejects Cohn outright. Having been trusted by his mentor Montoya to look out for Romero, Jake betrays the former by first introducing the young matador to his decadent friends, and then actually fixing him up with the plainly-destructive Brett. Brett has hurt Mike, Cohn, and Jake himself; it's hard to imagine that she won't harm the younger and far more naïve Romero. Meanwhile, Mike cannot get past the fact that his fiancée slept with Cohn, and tensions between the two men mount.

As late in the story as we are at this point, characterization nevertheless continues. Jake tells Brett that he'd behave just as badly as Cohn, if given the opportunity, to which Brett replies, "Darling, don't let's talk a lot of rot." Again, Cohn's primary function in this book is to serve as Jake's foil — to make him look good, really. His behavior in this chapter certainly accomplishes that.

Look closely at the start of this chapter for yet another example of the famous and influential Hemingway style. Stylistically, at least, Hemingway never wrote better than during the descriptive passages in this early novel. With regard to his dramatic writing, the scene in which Montoya observes Romero with the drunken English and Americans is also practically peerless. Though he never says a word, it is clear to us precisely what Montero is thinking.

And, of course, the cruel phallic joking continues. "Tell him that bulls have no balls," a drunken Mike shouts. Later, a fireworks technician's fruitless attempts at pyrotechnics are clearly metaphoric: He tries to launch a series of balloons, but

"[t]he wind brought them all down, and Don Manuel Orquito's face was sweaty in the light of his complicated fireworks that fell into the crowd and charged and chased, sputtering and cracking, between the legs of the people."

"I say, I wish one would go up," Brett remarks. Hemingway never ceases reminding us of Jake's terrible condition.


Navarrais from the province of Navarra, in northeastern Spain.

Algabeno, Gallo bullfighters

Bootblack a person whose work is shining shoes and boots.

Señor Mr.; sir; a Spanish title of respect.

lidia (Spanish) fight.

toro (Spanish) bull.

Course de taureaux (French) running of bulls.

Gibraltar a small peninsula at the southern tip of Spain, extending into the Mediterranean.

Ronda a town in the province of Andalusia, in southern Spain.

Malaga a seaport in southern Spain, on the Mediterranean.

Malagueño (Spanish) native to or typical of Malaga.

banderillero (Spanish)a bullfighter who assists the matador by placing banderillas, or harpoons, in the withers of the bull.

Borracho! Muy borracho! (Spanish) Drunk! Very drunk!

Tell him Brett wants to come into — the missing word or words are not precisely obvious, though clearly they are sexual in nature.

of title titled, having a title, especially of nobility.

pirotecnico (Spanish) fireworks.

esta ciudad (Spanish) this town.

Globos illuminados (Spanish) illuminated balloons.

lorgnon a single or double eyeglass, as a monocle or pince-nez.

He can't believe it didn't mean anything. Brett understands that sleeping with her was meaningful to Cohn, though the experience was of little import to her.

amontillado a pale, relatively dry sherry.

a goner (Slang) doomed

I tapped with my fingertips on the table. Jake is superstitiously "knocking on wood" so as to counteract Romero's statement, which seems to tempt fate.