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At the end of World War I, Jake Barnes, an American soldier serving in Italy, decides to remain in Europe and resume his newspaper career at the Paris office of the Herald , joining the legion of expatriates who haunt the Left Bank. One day, Robert Cohn, a moneyed young man who aspires to be a novelist, visits Jake at his office. Suffering from ennui , Robert tries to persuade Jake to accompany him to South America, but Jake has already made arrangements to go to Spain. In the park, Jake shares a drink with Georgette, a world-weary prostitute, and then invites her to dinner. As the evening wears on, Georgette wonders why Jake has no sexual interest in her, and Jake explains that he was injured in the war. At a dance club, Jack chances upon Robert and facetiously introduces Georgette as his fiancée to a crass American couple. When Lady Brett Ashley enters the room, Robert is stunned by her beauty. Ignoring Robert, Brett greets Jake and asks him to dance. On the dance floor, Brett impulsively tells Jake that she loves him and asks him to leave with her. In a taxi, the two kiss and Brett then announces that she plans to marry Mike Campbell, a wealthy Scotsman. While stopping at another bar, Brett and Jake run into Robert again. After the crowd from the previous club arrives at the bar, Jake declares he is sickened by the "whole show." Questioned by Robert about Brett, Jake replies that she is an American whose English husband was killed during the war and cautions that she is a drunk and a drifter. That night, while lying in bed, Jake stares at the ceiling and dreams about his war injury. As Jake is being anesthetized prior to surgery, his last image is of Brett, in a nurse's uniform, comforting him. Throughout Jake's convalescence, Brett remains by his side, but upon learning that his wound has rendered him impotent, Jake disassociates himself from her. Jake is roused from his dream by Brett's voice, and when he gets up, he finds her standing outside his door with Count Mippipopolous, an admirer, bearing an armload of champagne. After a toast, Brett leaves with the count, returns to embrace Jake and then dashes out. The next day, Jake's boisterous friend Bill Gorton comes to Paris to accompany Jake on his sojourn through Spain. Upon arriving in Pamplona for the running of the bulls, Jake learns that Robert, Brett and Mike are also there. As the group assembles to watch the unloading of the bulls, Jake fumes at Brett for picking up Robert in San Sebastian. Mike, drunk and jealous, bellicosely declares that he is bankrupt and insults Robert. The next day, during the running of the bulls, Mike drunkenly waves his bounced check at one of the bulls. In the bullring, Pedro Romero, a dashing young bullfighter, singles Brett out of the audience. Later, at the hotel bar, Jake invites Pedro to join them for a drink and Brett expresses her admiration for his prowess. After a besotted Mike insults Robert once again, Brett confides to Jake that she has realized Mike is the wrong man for her. When Brett complains that Mike and Robert are behaving badly, Jake remarks upon her complicity in the situation. Later, Brett begins to flirt with Pedro at yet another bar. Jake, disgusted, leaves, and tormented by posters touting Pedro, flings a glass of red wine at one of them. Soon after, Mike, still inebriated, appears with a señorita on each arm, followed by Robert. When Jake refuses to tell Robert where Brett can be found, Robert, a former college boxing champion, slugs him, then notices the stained poster and storms out of the room. Bursting into Brett's hotel room, Robert finds Pedro there and in a jealous rage, starts pummeling the slight matador. The next morning, Jake, Bill and Mike gather at the town square and when Brett announces that Pedro is seriously injured, the boorish Mike knocks over their bar table. Asking Jake to walk with her, Brett stops in a church to pray and then appeals to Jake to look after Mike. That afternoon in the bullring, Pedro bows to Brett and then confronts the bull. When the crowd calls for more dynamism, Pedro, bruised and in pain, exuberantly kills the animal. Afterward, Brett goes to congratulate Pedro, and Robert apologizes to Jake for his behavior, explaining that he was hopelessly in love with Brett, but now plans to return to America to work things out with his mistress. Jake then proceeds to Brett's hotel room, where a drunken Mike informs him that she has run away with Pedro. As the town's festivities come to a close, Bill, Mike and Jake muse about their future. Mike, flat broke, plans to venture to the Riviera where he can live on credit. Bill is to sail for New York and Jake is going to Biarritz to relax before returning to work. Upon learning that Pedro has cancelled his next bullfight, Jake feels remorse for allowing Brett to derail the young man's life. In Biarritz, Jake receives an urgent telegram from Brett, begging him to join her in Madrid. There, Brett confides that fearful of destroying Pedro, she forced him to leave. After confiding that she had hoped Pedro would make her forget Jake, Brett asks Jake to take her with him and he consents. Leaving her belongings behind, Brett climbs into a cab with Jake and, after declaring that Jake is the only man she could ever love, Brett holds out hope that there may be an answer for them somewhere.