The Sun Also Rises Chapter 1
Robert Cohn was middleweight boxing champ at Princeton. He only learned boxing to counter his feelings of inferiority, which came from being Jewish. His physical strength made him feel safe. His coach, Spider Kelly, taught him well and had great faith in him. Kelly had Cohn fight someone who was a better boxer, and Cohn got his nose flattened. A shy young man, Cohn's classmates don't remember him. The narrator, Jake Barnes, doubts Cohn was a great boxer, but his story checks out.
Cohn came from a rich New York family. He was not treated differently at his pre-Princeton prep school, and played football there. He was friendly but also shy, and he hated that about himself. He disliked Princeton, and he married the first nice girl he met. He had three children with her, lost most of his money, and was generally unhappy. He wanted to leave his wife, but he did not because he feared she could not live without him. So he was very surprised when she left him for a painter of miniatures.
After the divorce Cohn went to California and helped support a Review of the Arts, eventually becoming editor. He liked the power the job gave him. From his circle of friends he met a woman, Frances Clyne, who hoped to ride along on Cohn's success and money. When the magazine folded she convinced him that they should go to Europe, where he could write. They moved to Paris, and Cohn spent time with his friends, Jake, the narrator, and Henry Braddocks. It is 1925, post World War I.
After two years together, Frances started to fear she was getting old and unattractive. She tried to ensure Cohn would stay with her by insisting they get married. Devoted to her, happy enough with his hobbies and writing (he had written a novel), Cohn did not seem to mind the proposal. Lacking self-confidence, he was easily led and manipulated by the woman in his life.
Jake realized Frances' hold on Cohn one day during dinner. Jake suggested he and Cohn take a trip to Strasbourg, because there is girl there whom he knows could show them around. Someone kicks him under the table when he mentions the girl, and he assumed it was Frances. But it was actually Robert, who told Jake in private not to talk about any girls, because Frances was very jealous. Jake didn't understand what was wrong with having a friend of his show them around. But Frances had Cohn on a short leash, and so the men agreed to travel elsewhere.