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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
At the Hotel Crillon, Jake waits for Brett, who does not show up. He goes down to the bar and has a drink with George, the barman. Before departing for the Cafe Select, Jake looks for Brett again upstairs and is very disappointed not to find her. As he crosses the Seine on his way to the cafe, he notices a string of empty barges being towed down the current.
At the café, Jake meets Harvey Stone who is down and out and says he has not eaten in five days while waiting for money to arrive. Jake remembers that only three days before Harvey has won two hundred francs from him in a game of poker dice. After offering Harvey one hundred franc, Jake suggests that they have dinner. Harvey suggests a drink instead. Over cocktails, the two men discuss Mencken who they say has written all he knows and is now writing on what he does not know. Jake confesses that he just cannot read Mencken and is appalled that "so many young men get their likes and dislikes from Mencken." Jake conjectures that Robert Cohn, who cannot think for himself, is imitating Mencken in his dislike of Paris.
While having drinks, Jake and Harvey are joined by Cohn. Harvey mocks Cohn, calling him a moron. He asks Cohn to quickly state what he would like to do if he could do anything. After much thought, Cohn finally says that he would like to play football again. Harvey tells him he is not a moron, but has a case of arrested development. Cohn obliquely threatens to beat Harvey up, so Harvey leaves them. Cohn then complains again to Jake about his difficulty starting his second book, and Jake complains directly to the reader that Cohn is incapable of action since he has been totally molded by other people.
Frances Clyne joins them and proceeds to make a ridiculous fool of herself. She asks Jake to come with her for a talk and asks Cohn to stay where he is. She discusses Robert's desire to leave her and complains that she has gotten a divorce for him and has wasted two and a half years of her life with him. She also confesses that she has dreamed of having children with Cohn, even though she does not like children. At the end of the conversation, she admits that she is petrified that she will be unable to attract another man. Before rejoining Cohn, she makes Jake promise not to tell him the content of their talk. Cohn assumes she was talking to him of her upcoming trip. She tells Jake that Cohn is sending her to England to visit friends who do not yet know of her coming. She goes on at great length about her humiliation in being sent away and claims Cohn is leaving her because she is not good material for his new book and he is also having an affair with his secretary. Cohn tries to defend himself.
Jake, terribly offended by Frances' open display of self-pity and Cohn's passivity, excuses himself. As he leaves the couple to their own misery, he looks back and sees them still arguing. He wonders why Cohn keeps listening to Frances' abuse and is glad to be escaping back to the quiet of his own apartment.
Brett's standing him up at the Crillon visibly upsets Jake. When he sees the empty barges on the Seine immediately afterward, they serve as another objective correlative to capture Jake's sense of emptiness at the moment. The remainder of the chapter is equally empty and depressing. Hemingway further depicts the deplorable behavior of the Lost Generation. Harvey Stone is pathetic. He claims he has had no money to eat for five days even though he has just recently won two hundred francs from Jake in a poker game. When Jake suggests they have supper, Harvey chooses to drink instead. His behavior towards Cohn is an embarrassment to all present. The behavior of Frances and Cohn is equally pathetic. Frances reveals her deepest emotions to Jake, a man she hardly knows, and then proceeds to argue loudly with Cohn in the sidewalk cafe, where the public can easily see and hear their emotional states. Remember that Jake hates any display of feelings.
The length that Hemingway spends on the realistic dialogue and the uncomfortable scene between Frances and Cohn reveals his strong disapproval of the couple and the times. If these two are any indication, relationships are wrongly based on money and selfishness. As a result, they are transitory and painful in an embarrassing sort of way. Jake is also embarrassed by the couple and particularly by Frances' outburst. Since he finds Cohn to be less disgusting than Frances, Jake sides with him. Although Frances is the injured party in the sense that she has been jilted by her lover of two and a half years, and has no money and no prospects, she receives all of Jake's scorn because she has made a scene in public; she has aired her emotional distress in front of him, a relative stranger, and she has not taken her ill-luck with any grace. Jake's code of behavior finds such public displays of emotion intolerable.
Jake also scorns Cohn in the chapter, partially due to his moronic behavior and partially due to the fact that this narrative is written by Jake in retrospect. He is telling of an experience that happened to him in the past. He, therefore, paints Cohn in totally negative images because he knows that Cohn will soon have an affair with Brett. Since Jake does not respect Cohn, he feels an enmity toward him that he does not feel toward Brett's many other lovers. Perhaps he also finds some uncomfortable parallels between himself and Cohn. In a sense, Brett uses Jake much like Frances uses Cohn.