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The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises Book 1, Chapter 1 Summary

  • The narrator, Jake Barnes, opens with a description of a friend of his, Robert Cohn, whose crowning triumph was being named Princeton’s middleweight boxing champion in his college days. Impressive, right?
  • Right. Jake isn’t terribly impressed, either. Though he’s fond of Cohn, he actually sees the other man as kind of a forgettable wimp. So forgettable, in fact, that Jake is stunned that Cohn’s former boxing coach even remembers him.
  • Cohn is Jewish, a fact that Jake finds central to his character development. He is innately self-conscious, married young, had an unhappy marriage, and was left by his wife (who he was feebly attempting to leave anyway).
  • After his divorce, Cohn moved to California, where he briefly edited a magazine. But, he was too poor to fund the publication and it died – the magazine that is. Cohn’s literary ambitions live on.
  • Cohn now lives in Paris with a forceful divorcée named Frances. Jake is his tennis friend, as compared to Braddocks, who is Cohn’s literary friend (an interesting distinction, considering that Jake is also a writer – the difference is that he’s a journalist).
  • Cohn is a published novelist, but his writing isn’t highly regarded by Jake or anyone else. Frances, Cohn’s mistress, is a total control freak. In the midst of coffee with Cohn and Frances, Jake’s mere suggestion of traveling with Cohn to visit an American woman earns him a swift "shut-up!" kick from Cohn. Clearly, any mention of other women is strictly off-limits in Frances’s vicinity.
  • Jake is bemused by Cohn’s weakness, especially with women.

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