Ah, l’amour, l’amour. Of course a novel set in Paris (city of love, duh), involves love. However, don’t forget that this is not exactly the romantic, sentimental Paris we usually imagine – Hemingway’s Paris is an ailing, disillusioned postwar city, and therefore Hemingway’s love is also a special kind of ailing, disillusioned, postwar love. The novel lacks a single substantial example of mutually shared and consummated romantic love. While some characters struggle with an outdated definition of love, for others, the prospect of love seems entirely subjugated to other concerns and realities. Love, when mentioned at all in The Sun Also Rises, is usually only brought up in the context of accusations or fights, or at best surrounding discussions of sex.
Although Brett and Jake love one another, Brett’s prioritization of sex and independence above love, and Jake’s physical limitations, prevent them from being together.
Robert Cohn’s unrealistic and outdated understanding of love renders him the perfect scapegoat for Mike, Brett, and Jake, each of whom are insecure in their own love lives.