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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The next morning Jake wakes and goes to his news office. Being thorough by nature, he describes his walk and tram ride in close detail and says, "It felt pleasant to be going to work." At the office, he reads the French papers and gets a satisfying amount of work done in the morning. At eleven o'clock he goes to the French council to hear the foreign-office mouthpiece give the news of the day. He realizes that there is really no news, that people are talking only to hear themselves talk. He returns to his office in a taxi with two other correspondents, Woolsey and Krum. While traveling through the city, they discuss their interests. Krum (note his name) wants the chance to go to nightclubs and play tennis, but the weather and his wife stand in his way. Woolsey dislikes the inconveniences of city life and would like to live in the country. Jake invites theses two ordinary and unimpressive men in for a drink, but they must get back to work. As a parting gesture, Jake insists on paying for the cab ride over their objections.
Jake finds Robert Cohn waiting for him when he gets inside his office. Cohn invites him to lunch. They go to Wetzel's and order hors d'oeuvres and beer. Cohn complains that he cannot seem to start his second book and that he cannot go to South America because of Frances. He then asks Jake about Brett. Jake tells him Brett is getting a divorce in order to marry Mike Campbell. Cohn goes on at length about Brett's fine qualities. Jake simply remarks, "She's nice," and then adds that she is also a drunk. He later tells Cohn that he met Brett when she was a volunteer during the war. He adds that she is thirty-four years old and married Lord Ashley during the war on the rebound from losing her young, true love to the war. Cohn says he does not believe that Brett would marry anyone she did not love, Jake replies that she has done so twice. Cohn is upset by Jake's open cynicism about Brett, and Jake tells him to go to hell. Cohn stands up and insists that Jake take it back, to which Jake off-handedly complies. Cohn responds by saying that Jake is his best friend. Jake keeps Cohn from talking further about Brett and then returns to his office after lunch.
This chapter reveals more about what Brett's wound is. She is unable to establish a permanent relationship, and at age 34 she has moved from one husband to the next with some regularity since the loss of her first love during the war. The chapter also reinforces the negative picture of Robert Cohn. He has obviously asked Jake to lunch in order to quiz him about Brett, with whom he seems to be enamored. When Jake tells him the truth about Brett, Cohn "stood up from the table his face white, and stood there white and angry behind the little plates of hors d'oeuvres." This visual image is obviously intentional. The sheepish Cohn, "pale" with anger, cannot really stand up for himself, but seems to hide behind the plate of tiny hors d'oeuvres when he challenges the more robust Jake. How ironic that a championship boxer would cower behind finger food!
The chapter also reveals Jake's dislike of Cohn. Jake's code of behavior demands that a man confront his own weaknesses and stand up to them with strength and courage. The cowering Cohn is usually an anathema to Jake, but he, for some reason, is unwilling to dismiss Cohn, just as he cannot dismiss Brett. Instead, Jake keeps Cohn at arm's length, acting pleasantly distant. His tension over hearing Cohn describe Brett is understated. He does not tell Cohn of his own emotional involvement with her. In fact, Jake acts as if he does not care about her or even like her.