The Sun Also Rises Chapter 18
It is the last day of the fiesta. They are eating lunch and drinking in a café as the crowds collect in the town. Brett joins them and has a drink. Cohn is gone. Brett heard about the fight with Jake. She tells Jake that Cohn hurt Romero badly. His face is cut up, but he will go on this afternoon. Mike starts to tease Brett about her boyfriends, especially her bull-fighter. Tired of Mike, Brett asks Jake to take a walk with her. She tells him that Romero's people do not like her or the relationship. The fact that her ex-boyfriend beat Romero up probably did not help, either.
They walk around town and then to the church. Brett wants to go in and pray, but she gets very uncomfortable once inside. Brett asks Jake to look after Mike, then she goes off to meet Romero.
Jake goes to check on Mike. He is depressed. Jake lets him sleep and has lunch with Bill. For the bull-fight, Brett, Jake, and Bill sit by the ring. The bull-fighters enter, with their attendants carrying their swords and muletas The muletas, fancy capes, are stained with the blood of the bulls. Brett is fascinated.
There are three matadors: Romero, Belmonte, and Marcial. There is a procession, and each bull-fighter gives his formal cape to a friend. Romero gives his to Brett. Jake, the aficionado, mistakenly tells her to spread it in front of her; it is supposed to be in her lap.
Belmonte has the first bull. He is the oldest of the three matadors, and just out of retirement. He was so good in his youth he has been mythologized. Unable to live up to the myth, Belmonte cannot please the crowd. They want something that never existed. Belmonte is also sick, and he cannot give them what they want:
"In bull-fighting they speak of the terrain of the bull and the terrain of the bull-fighter. As long as a bull-fighter stays in his own terrain he is comparatively safe. Each time he enters into the terrain of the bull he is in great danger. Belmonte, in his best days, worked always in the terrain of the bull. This way he gave the sensation of coming tragedy." Chapter 18, pp. 213-214
Now Belmonte chooses bulls whose horns are small, so even when he works in the terrain of the bull, the danger seems minimal. The crowd jeers and throws things at him.
The crowd loves Romero. It is Romero's honesty that hurts Belmonte. Belmonte came out of retirement to upstage Marcial's trickery and insincere work, but the appearance of Romero has ruined all that. This is because Romero does everything perfectly. The crowd is mesmerized. Romero loves his work, and he does most of it near Brett:
"Because he did not look up to ask if it pleased he did it all for himself inside, and it strengthened him, and yet he did it for her, too. But he did not do it for her at any loss to himself." Chapter 18, pg. 216
His first bull cannot see well, and Romero has to lead the bull to him with his body instead of his cape. This is very dangerous, and Romero shifts his body away at the last second. He is very focused; the work is hard. Some spectators do not understand and think that Romero is being cowardly. His second bull is good. Romero is so perfect, it is painful to watch. The crowd doesn't want it to end. When Romero kills the bull, he presents the ear to Brett. Then the crowd carries him out of the ring. Brett and the others move slowly through the large crowd, feeling drained after the bull-fight. Jake and Bill go for a drink. Bill wonders what Cohn will do. Jake thinks he'll get back with Frances, but he doesn't care. The group is leaving tomorrow. Bill describes the festival as a "wonderful nightmare," and they have some drinks. Jake gets very drunk. He goes to the hotel and sees Mike. He learns that Brett left town with Romero. She looked for Jake, but she could not find him. Jake cannot believe she's gone.
Jake goes to his room to try and sleep. The fiesta is loud outside. After a while, Jake goes downstairs to meet Bill and Mike. They sit down to dinner, but the group feels incomplete.