The Sun Also Rises is extremely charged with sexual tension – if you’re on the lookout for it. Sex is always something implied, something that everyone knows about but no one discusses. We know that Brett gets it on with Cohn, Mike, and Romero in the course of the novel, but it’s never overtly stated; the only person we even witness her kissing is Jake, and we know that their relationship can’t ever be consummated.
Speaking of Jake, our narrator’s sexual impotence certainly plays into the lack of open sexuality in the novel. Jake’s war wound prevents him from getting, shall we say, involved with any of the ladies in the novel. He even picks up a prostitute, Georgette, but abandons her at a nightclub. The central problem of the entire book is, in some ways, Jake’s inability to have sex – if he weren’t impotent, he and Brett could be together, and we’d have a very different novel on our hands. For now, though, sex is something that happens behind closed doors, out of sight of both us and Jake.