.. (38, Ch. 5). Cohn is immature in his idealization of Brett’s beauty, as he falls in”love at first sight”. Furthermore, like an adolescent, he attempts to satisfy his curiosity about Brett by asking Jake numerous questions about her.
After Cohn and Brett’s short-lived affair in San Sebastian, Cohn is nervous around Jake: “Cohn had been rather nervous ever since we had met at Bayone. He did not know whether we knew Brett had been with him at San Sebastian, and it made him rather awkward” (94, Ch. 10). Moreover, Cohn is scared that when Brett appears she will embarrass him and so he does not have the maturity to behave appropriately in front of Jake and his friend, Bill Gorton. Nonetheless, Cohn is proud of his affair with Brett and believes that this conquest makes him a hero.
When Brett appears with her fiancee Mike, Cohn still believes that they are destined for an ideal love despite her blatant coldness to him. However, it is apparent that Brett simply used Cohn to satisfy her sexual cravings: “‘He behaved rather well'” (83, Ch. 9). Cohn does not understand the triviality of their trip to San Sebastian in Brett’s mind and has become dependent on her attention and affection. In his rampant drunkenness, Mike blasts Cohn: “‘What if Brett did sleep with you? She’s slept with lots of better people than you. Tell me Robert,. Why do you follow Brett around like a poor bloody steer? Don’t you know you’re not wanted?'” (143, Ch.
13). Cohn is like an adolescent, as he vainly ignores the truth and continues to love Brett: “He could not stop looking at Brett. It seemed to make him happy. It must have been pleasant for him to see her looking so lovely, and know he had been away with her and that every one knew it. They couldn’t take that away from him” (146, Ch.
13). Cohn over-exaggerates the significance of his affair with Brett. He does not understand that Brett simply used him and that their brief relationship has no meaning to her. Moreover, Cohn cannot conduct himself with dignity and he intrudes upon people and places where he is obviously not wanted. Naively, Cohn dwells on the fact that he has slept with Brett and obsesses with her.
When Brett begins to show signs of interest in Pedro Romero, Cohn irrationally approaches Jake demanding to know Brett’s whereabouts, punches him in the jaw, and then calls him a pimp (190-91, Ch. 17). Later that night he encounters Pedro and Brett together in their hotel room. His actions of knocking Pedro down repeatedly until he eventually tires demonstrate a divergence from his character. Cohn for the first time takes some action in what he feels, rather than merely thinking about it or complaining about it. However, despite his persistence, Pedro does not remain down according to Mike: “‘The bull-fighter fellow was rather good. He didn’t say much, but he kept getting up and getting knocked down again.
Cohn couldn’t knock him out'” (202, Ch. 17). Eventually, Cohn gives up on this pursuit, is knocked twice by Pedro, and loses his battle for Brett. These events show that Cohn’s boxing skills, a defense mechanism that he once used in college, will no longer pull him out of rough situations. Cohn fails to show the strength and courage needed to face the circumstances like a man.
Pedro Romero, on the other hand, comes closest to the embodiment of Hemingway’s hero. Brett is almost immediately enchanted by this handsome, nineteen-year-old, a promising matador. Pedro, a fearless figure who frequently confronts death in his occupation, is not afraid in the bullring and controls the bulls like a master. Pedro is the first man since Jake who causes Brett to lose her self-control: “‘I can’t help it. I’m a goner now, anyway.
Don’t you see the difference? I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to do something I really want to do. I’ve lost my self-respect” (183, Ch. 16). In contrast, Pedro maintains his self-control in his first encounter with Brett: “He felt there was something between them.
He must have felt it when Brett gave him her hand. He was being very careful” (185, Ch. 16). Brett falls in love with Pedro as a hero who promises new excitement. In the scene between Pedro and Cohn described previously, Pedro demonstrates his confidence and strong will. Knocked down time and time again, Pedro rises each time refusing to be beaten. His controlled and dignified demeanor in an unusual situation contrast sharply with Cohn’s fear and weakness. Soon Pedro and Brett run off together but when he demands too much from her, Brett asks him to leave.
“‘He was ashamed of me for a while, you know. He wanted me to grow my hair out. He said it would make me more womanly.” In addition, Pedro “really wanted to marry” Brett because “‘he wanted to make it sure [Brett] could never go away from him'” (242, Ch. 19). Pedro will not compromise his expectations for a woman and will not accommodate Brett’s character even though he loves her.
In his affair with Brett, he has performed according to his rules and when he discovers that his ideals are impossible for Brett to accept, he leaves willingly. Pedro has been left untainted by Brett, sustaining his strong-willed, correct behavior. Moreover, Pedro leaves without sulking like Cohn or whining like Mike. Brett’s acceptance or rejection of particular qualities in each of the four men she becomes involved with help define Hemingway’s male hero. Mike is not dependent on Brett but does not maintain his dignity and self-discipline in his drunken sloppiness. Cohn is a complaining, weak, accommodating adolescent who has little understanding of others or himself. Pedro is the near perfect embodiment of strength, courage, and confidence.
Jake is the lesser version of this perfection as the hero of the novel. Hence, Hemingway’s ideal hero is self-controlled, self-reliant, and fearless. He is a man of action and he does not, under any circumstances, compromise his beliefs or standards. Jake, as the supposed hero of the novel, is challenged by his emasculation in the deepest sense possible, because the traditional ways in which masculinity are defined are insufficient and impossible for him. Jake needs the strength and courage to confront his impotence because he has not yet adjusted to this weakness. It is ironic that Cohn, a character least like the Hemingway man, has slept with Brett while Jake will never be able to accomplish this feat. However, because Cohn so inadequately fulfills the roles of a true man, Hemingway implies that the sexual conquest of a woman does not alone satisfy the definition of masculinity.
Nevertheless, Jake fails to fulfill other requisites of the Hemingway man as he deviates from his own ethical standards. Jake sees that Brett is mesmerized by Pedro’s skillful control and extraordinary handsomeness and recognizes the possibility of furnishing her carnal desires with the most perfect specimen of manhood that he can offer in place of himself. Jake thus betrays the aficionados of Pamplona and the trust of a long-time friend, Montoya, who fear that this rising star may be ruined by women. Thus, regardless of his physical impotence, Jake’s true weakness is the impotence of his will and the supposed hero of the novel is flawed due to his failure to adhere to what he believes is right and wrong. Hemingway thus refrains from presenting a true hero in his novel. With the absence of a leading male ideal, Hemingway betrays the larger socio-cultural assumptions about men and masculinity and questions the conventional means in which they are defined in his society.