For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway
Table of Contents
1. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Introduction
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway Biography
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Summary
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Chapter Summaries

¨ Chapter 1 Summary
¨ Chapter 2 Summary
¨ Chapter 3 Summary
¨ Chapter 4 Summary
¨ Chapter 5 Summary
¨ Chapter 6 Summary
¨ Chapter 7 Summary
¨ Chapter 8 Summary
¨ Chapter 9 Summary
¨ Chapter 10 Summary
¨ Chapter 11 Summary
¨ Chapter 12 Summary
¨ Chapter 13 Summary
¨ Chapter 14 Summary
¨ Chapter 15 Summary
¨ Chapter 16 Summary
¨ Chapter 17 Summary
¨ Chapter 18 Summary
¨ Chapter 19 Summary
¨ Chapter 20 Summary
¨ Chapter 21 Summary
¨ Chapter 22 Summary
¨ Chapter 23 Summary
For Whom the Bell Tolls 1
¨ Chapter 24 Summary
¨ Chapter 25 Summary
¨ Chapter 26 Summary
¨ Chapter 27 Summary
¨ Chapter 28 Summary
¨ Chapter 29 Summary
¨ Chapter 30 Summary
¨ Chapter 31 Summary
¨ Chapter 32 Summary
¨ Chapter 33 Summary
¨ Chapter 34 Summary
¨ Chapter 35 Summary
¨ Chapter 36 Summary
¨ Chapter 37 Summary
¨ Chapter 38 Summary
¨ Chapter 39 Summary
¨ Chapter 40 Summary
¨ Chapter 41 Summary
¨ Chapter 42 Summary
¨ Chapter 43 Summary
5. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Themes
6. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Style
7. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Historical Context
8. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Critical Overview
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Character Analysis
¨ Character Overview
¨ Robert Jordan
¨ Maria
¨ Pablo
¨ Pilar
¨ Other Characters
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Essays and Criticism
¨ A Linguistic Analysis of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls
¨ An Analysis of Robert Jordan and Frederick Henry
¨ Robert Jordan as a Hemingway “Code Hero”
¨ Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls
¨ Macho Posturing in For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Role of Andrés of Villaconejos
11. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Selected Quotes
12. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Compare and Contrast
13. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Topics for Further Study
14. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Media Adaptations
15. For Whom the Bell Tolls: What Do I Read Next?
16. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Bibliography and Further Reading
17. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Pictures
18. Copyright
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Introduction
When For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in 1940, it immediately became a resounding critical and
popular success and helped cement Ernest Hemingway’s reputation as one of America’s foremost writers.
eNotes: Table of Contents 2
Readers praised its realistic portrait of not only the political tensions in Europe that would soon erupt into
World War II but also the complexities of the entire experience of war for the individual who found him or
herself fighting for a cause. Hemingway had previously explored this theme, most notably in his short story
collection In Our Time (1924) and in his novels The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929).
Yet his attitude toward his subject in For Whom the Bell Tolls reveals a subtle shift. While his previous works
focused more on the meaninglessness of war, this novel ends with a reaffirmation of community.
For Whom the Bell Tolls chronicles the experiences of American college professor Robert Jordan, who has
volunteered to fight for the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War. His initial idealism is quickly tempered
by the realities of war. Yet his courage enables him to remain devoted to the cause, even as he faces death.
Hemingway’s compassionate and authentic portrait of his characters as they struggle to retain their idealistic
beliefs has helped earn the novel its reputation as one of Hemingway’s finest.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway Biography
Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, to Clarence Edmunds (physician) and
Grace (music teacher) Hemingway, both strict Congregationalists. He started writing when he was a teenager,
penning a weekly column for his high school newspaper. During this period, he also began to write poems and
stories, some of which were published in his school’s literary magazine. After graduating high school in
1917, Hemingway started his career as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, covering city crime and writing
feature stories. The position helped him develop a journalistic style, which would later become one of the
most identifiable characteristics of his fiction.
Ernest Hemingway
When World War I broke out, he volunteered as a Red Cross ambulance driver in Italy. After suffering severe
leg injuries, Hemingway met and fell in love with a nurse who would eventually break off their relationship.
Disillusioned with the war and with romantic relationships, Hemingway returned home and turned his
attention to fiction writing. To support himself, however, he returned to reporting, accepting a position at the
Toronto Star.
Like many of his compatriots of the Lost Generation, Hemingway left America for Europe, where he joined
the group of literary expatriates in Paris, including Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He lived in Paris for
the next seven years, working on his fiction and serving as a European correspondent for American
newspapers. From 1937 to 1938, he covered the Spanish Civil War and from 1944 to 1945, he reported on the
battles of World War II.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Introduction 3
Edward J. O’Brien named Hemingway’s short story “My Old Man,” which appeared in his first publication,
Three Stories and Ten Poems, in his list of the best stories of 1923. Hemingway’s next publication, a series of
short stories interspersed with vignettes, entitled In Our Time (1924), was well received, and he began to earn
a reputation as an astute chronicler of the Lost Generation. This reputation was solidified after the publication
of his next story collection, Men Without Women (1927), and the novels The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A
Farewell to Arms (1929). When For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in 1940, it was regarded by the public
and the critics as one of his best works.
Along with his growing reputation as one of the most important contemporary American writers, Hemingway
developed a mythic persona that he helped perpetuate. During the middle of the century, the public began to
envision Hemingway as the personification of his heroes—a hard drinking, forceful American, who could
stand his ground on the battlefield, in the boxing ring, and on safari. Several American magazines, such as
Life and Esquire, chronicled his adventures. Yet, during this period, he also devoted himself to his craft,
which he considered of paramount importance in his life and his time.
During the 1950s, a life of alcohol abuse and rough living took a toll on his health. His health problems,
compounded by his three failed marriages and periods of creative stagnation, resulted in a mental breakdown
in 1960, and the following year on July 2, Hemingway committed suicide in Ketchum, Idaho.
Hemingway has retained his reputation as one of America’s most significant and influential writers. During
his long literary career, he earned several accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and
the Sea, the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, and the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts &
Letters in 1954.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Summary
For Whom the Bell Tolls is Hemingway’s third great novel. First published in 1940, the novel’s action takes
place between Saturday afternoon and Tuesday noon during the last week of May, 1937. The main narrative
follows three days in the life of its main character, Robert Jordan, an American fighting with Spanish
Loyalists against Franco’s fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War. There are, however, flashback sequences
in the text, two of which do not include Jordan. Given the epic character of the work and the relative
complexity of its plot, the synopsis that follows is confined to the outlines of the central story.
For Whom the Bell Tolls begins with Jordan lying on the ground deep behind the enemy lines. He is scouting
a bridge that he has agreed to blow up as part of the Loyalist plan to launch an offensive against the Fascists.
Timing is absolutely critical to the mission’s success; the bridge must be destroyed right at the beginning of
the Loyalist push. Although Jordan has ample experience with munitions, having destroyed bridges and
enemy trains many times before, this assignment presents a particularly difficult challenge. He is to receive
the support that he will need to carry it out from a band of partisan guerillas headed by Pablo and his wife,
When Jordan reaches the cave in which the partisan camp is hidden, he finds that although Pablo was once
renowned for his bravery, the band’s leader has lost his nerve as a result of witnessing atrocities committed
by the fascists against civilians. Pablo actively opposes Jordan’s mission, fearing that it will expose the band
to the enemy’s attention and reprisals. His wife Pilar, however, remains dedicated to the cause, and she leads
the others in supporting the plan to blow up the bridge. Jordan tells them that he will also enlist the aid of
another underground group led by El Sordo. Pablo’s own band considers killing him, but they relent when
their leader changes his mind and says that he now favors Jordan’s mission.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway Biography 4
At the camp, Jordan hears the partisans express their hatred for the fascists. They tell horror stories of torture
and rape, and he listens to their plans for revenge. Jordan recognizes that the partisan’s are brutal, cunning,
and bloodthirsty, but he also knows that they are the victims who have responded in kind only because they
have been compelled to do so. Within the group, Jordan comes to admire Anselmo, an older guerilla known
for his daring and his willingness to kill when ordered to do so even though he hates the act of killing. The
American also meets a young woman named Maria who has been perversely tortured by the fascists before
escaping from them. Jordan becomes enraged by Maria’s story, and he immediately falls in love with her. For
two successive nights, Maria sleeps with Jordan. He tells her that they will be married someday. But with this
attachment to Maria, he now fears death, and Jordan knows that such fear is dangerous to him, to his
comrades in arms, and to his mission. On the next morning, Jordan shoots an enemy cavalry officer who
stumbles into camp and is then touched when he reads the dead man’s personal letters.
Dispatched to El Sordo’s camp, Anselmo returns with word that the guerilla leader has been beheaded and
that all of his men have been killed. Worse, Jordan is told that the fascists know all about the impending
Loyalist offensive. He sends this information to the Loyalist headquarters through a courier. Ironically,
although the messenger arrives at the headquarters in time to halt the offensive, due to the incompetence of
the officers there, the message is relayed to the field too late.
As the appointed hour approaches, Jordan’s plans to blow up the bridge are waylaid by Pablo’s treachery.
On the night before the mission is to be carried out, Pablo steals the detonators. He returns the next day with a
small band of guerillas in an effort to redeem himself, but now Jordan’s team will have to use hand grenades
to set off the explosives and destroy the target, a far more difficult and dangerous undertaking. As the mission
proceeds, each member of the demolition team performs an assigned job, Anselmo killing a sentry, Jordan
wiring the bridge. Hearing the sounds of the Loyalist offensive overhead, Jordan detonates the grenades. He is
able to escape from the explosion unharmed, but steel shards fatally strike Anselmo. Jordan is outraged by a
death that would not have occurred were it not for Pablo’s deceit. He nevertheless completes his rendezvous
with Pablo, Pilar and Maria but finds that the remainder of the band consists of just two other guerillas
holding a surplus of horses. Jordan learns that the rest of the guerillas are dead, and that it is not the enemy but
Pablo who slaughtered them to get their horses. Pablo admits to this with a simple shrug of his shoulders,
saying only that the men who were killed were not part of his band.
The six remaining characters—Jordan, Pablo, Pilar, Maria, and two band members—now face another deadly
obstacle. They must cross a road on horseback that is exposed to Fascist gunfire. Jordan knows that the first of
them to cross has the greatest chance of reaching safety, while the last is the most likely to be fired upon with
deadly aim. Pablo, who knows the way out, and Maria make it across in the first wave; Pilar and two other
band members also reach safety in the second wave. Jordan goes last of all, but an enemy bullet strikes his
horse, and it falls upon his leg. Jordan’s comrades drag him to safety, but it is plain that he cannot go on since
he is too badly injured to ride. Maria refuses to leave her wounded lover behind, but at Jordan’s urging, she is
put on a horse by Pablo and Pilar, and the party rides off.
Alone, Jordan prepares to make his last stand. As fascist troops near, he readies a submachine gun. Waiting
for the final exchange, he reviews the events of the past three days in his mind. He knows that the mission was
actually futile, but that he had fought in a just cause that would eventually triumph. He smiles as he sees a
fascist officer moving toward him. The novel ends with Jordan’s death at hand and his status as a genuine
code hero secured.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Chapter Summaries
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Summary 5
Chapter 1 Summary
In 1930s Spain, Robert Jordan is an American serving in the guerrilla troops supporting the Republican army
during the Spanish Civil War. He is now behind enemy lines to fulfill his mission. Along with Anselmo, a
sixty-eight-year-old Spaniard, Jordan is scouting the bridge that he has been assigned to blow up. He was
given the assignment two days previously by the Soviet commander General Golz, who instructs him not to
set off the explosions after the Fascist aerial attack has begun. This is not the first bridge Jordan has
dynamited during this war, and he is an expert at explosions. The destruction of the bridge will aid in the
Republican attempt to take the town of Segovia. Both Jordan and Golz are not happy with this plan, seeing it
as extremely difficult and liable to fail.
Anselmo leads Jordan up the mountainside to a place where they can hide the dynamite until the proper time.
Anselmo tells Jordan to wait beside a small stream while he alerts the guerrilla fighters that they are
approaching. Jordan grabs some watercress to ease his hunger. When Anselmo returns, they continue their
climb up the mountain. They encounter Pablo, an illiterate peasant who questions Jordan’s credentials. He is
reluctant to follow the plans that Jordan has been given. He does not like the idea of exploding a bridge so
close to his place of shelter. Pablo says that he and the others with him have travelled throughout the
countryside, having been driven from their homes. Now the very army that is supposed to aid the country
people is, in fact, making life even more difficult for them. However, he agrees to help and leads them further
up the mountain after Anselmo chastises him.
They come upon a corral of horses that Pablo has stolen. He is very proud of those horses, but Jordan sees that
he is more concerned with the horses than with the struggle against the Fascists. Pablo has become a capitalist,
Jordan believes. He also sees a sadness in Pablo’s face that indicates to him that Pablo is about to leave the
fight or to betray them all. Jordan decides that Pablo is not a man to be trusted. He knows that when Pablo’s
negative attitude changes for the better, the peasant will have made his move to either leave or to betray them.
Jordan decides not to worry about it for now and looks forward to dinner, hoping that Pablo has sufficient
food for a large meal.
Chapter 2 Summary
Robert Jordan and Anselmo, guided by Pablo, approach a cave up in the timber on the mountainside. This
cave serves as the camp for the guerrilla insurgents. Outside the cave entrance sits a gypsy man whittling.
Pablo introduces him to Jordan as Rafael. The gypsy warns them against putting the two backpacks containing
the dynamite inside the cave where there is a fire. Robert Jordan asks the gypsy what he is whittling and is
told that it is a trap for foxes (though it is really for rabbits).
The gypsy gives the men some wine, and Robert Jordan can smell food cooking. The gypsy asks what became
of the other dynamite expert (Kashkin) from previous expeditions. Robert Jordan tells him that Kashkin was
captured following the attack on a train and committed suicide rather than submit to torture.
A young woman named Maria brings food out of the cave. She has extremely short blond hair that she
explains was cut off when she was imprisoned three months ago. The gypsy explains that they found her
hiding in the rocks following the train explosion during which Kashkin had been captured. She was wild but
they could not leave her. Robert Jordan feels a strong attraction to Maria, so much so that he has difficulty
speaking. He asks her if she “belongs” to anyone. She says that she does not, nor will she belong to him.
Robert Jordan says that he has no time for women. The gypsy teasingly asks him if he cannot spare even
fifteen minutes. Maria blushes every time Robert Jordan looks at her, and she asks him to stop.
Chapter 1 Summary 6
Robert Jordan asks how many fighters are in the camp. He is told that there are seven men and two women.
The other woman “belongs” to Pablo. The gypsy tells Robert Jordan that she is much braver than Pablo is.
He also explains that they have a machine gun. The gypsy tells Robert Jordan of the last mission in which
Kashkin was killed and Maria rescued. A gypsy woman about fifty years old exits the cave. She is Pilar,
Pablo’s woman. She expresses contempt for Pablo. She asks Robert Jordan to take Maria out of the camp
when he leaves, to take her to the coast where she can be treated well after her imprisonment.
The gypsy woman takes Robert Jordan’s hand and reads his palm. She looks at him and claims that she saw
nothing. Robert Jordan does not believe her and repeatedly asks her what she saw, that he is strong enough to
take bad news. She insists that she saw nothing. At last Robert Jordan awakens Anselmo so they can leave.
Chapter 3 Summary
Robert Jordan and Anselmo climb down the mountain to within fifty yards of the bridge they are to dynamite.
It is a wide, metal bridge crossing a deep gorge. Robert Jordan sees that it will not be difficult to demolish the
bridge and quickly makes sketches of the situation. While Robert Jordan is sketching, Anselmo is observing
the sentries. He points out the single sentry to Robert Jordan. The sentry box on the opposite end of the bridge
is too far for them to see. There is another post five hundred meters below the turn of the stream. Anselmo
says there are seven men and a corporal, according to the gypsy.
They see airplanes flying overhead as they prepare to go. They cannot determine on whose side the airplanes
are on. Both Robert Jordan and Anselmo say they think they are on the side of the Republicans. However,
looking more closely, Robert Jordan sees that they are the wrong shape and that they belong to the Fascists.
But he does not say this to Anselmo. It is better for them to act like the planes belong to them.
Going back to the camp, the two men begin to talk about hunting. Anselmo invites Robert Jordan back after
the war to hunt with him. Robert Jordan says that he does not like to hunt animals, but he is comfortable
killing men if they are enemies during wartime. Anselmo says that he feels the opposite, that the killing of
men, even in a time of war, is a sin. However, he believes that the sins he commits in this war will be
forgiven. When Robert Jordan asks by whom they will be forgiven, Anselmo says that he does not know. He
no longer believes in God, since no God would allow the atrocities he has seen. He misses believing in God,
but he only believes in man. Robert Jordan suggests that he may then forgive himself for the sin of killing
human beings.
As they approach the camp, they are stopped by a guard named Agustin. Although Agustin knows Anselmo,
still he must do his job. He asks the two men if it is true that they are going to blow up a bridge. Every other
word he speaks is an obscenity or an “unprintable” word. As Robert Jordan and Anselmo leave the guard to
go up the mountain, Anselmo assures the American that Agustin is a good man despite his vulgar language.
He has confidence in him, though he does not trust Pablo, whom he calls bad. The Republican leader El
Sordo, Anselmo says, is as good as Pablo is bad. Robert Jordan agrees that Pablo is bad and asks if it is
advisable to go to another location. Anselmo says that this country is Pablo’s, so he would know where they
went. He tells Robert Jordan that they should move with caution.
Chapter 4 Summary
As Robert Jordan approaches the cave with Anselmo, he checks the packs of dynamite. Verifying that all is
well, he takes them with him into the cave. He sees that Pablo and the gypsy have been joined by three other
men. Pilar (Pablo’s wife) is standing over the fire, and Maria is beside her. Pablo objects to having the
dynamite in the cave.
Chapter 2 Summary 7
Robert Jordan informs Pablo that Agustin is dying of boredom as he waits above. Pablo is unconcerned. When
Robert Jordan asks for wine, Pablo tells him that there is little left. Robert Jordan then asks for water, which
Maria brings to him. He brings out a hip flask, which contains absinthe. He explains to Maria that it is too
strong for her. He carefully prepares the mixture, dropping the absinthe slowly into the water, which changes
to a milky yellow. Robert Jordan explains that it is the last of the bottle he bought in Madrid. He gives Rafael
the gypsy a sip. Rafael grimaces at the bitterness, which Robert Jordan explains comes from wormwood. It
was supposed to rot the brain, he says, but he does not believe it. It only changes the ideas.
Robert Jordan looks at the other three men. They are belligerent, but he offers them a cigarette. They remark
that it is the same brand that Kashkin had. All of those present, with the exception of Anselmo, were present
when Kashkin was captured blowing up the train. Pablo states that they should blow up another train. Robert
Jordan says they can do that after they blow up the bridge. Pablo sullenly states that he does not support the
blowing up of the bridge, nor do any of the other men. Robert Jordan calmly ignores him and tells Anselmo
that the two of them must blow it up themselves. Anselmo refers to Pablo as a coward.
Robert Jordan looks at Pilar and Maria. He realizes that it might come to a showdown between him and Pablo.
He repeats that he will blow up the bridge without Pablo’s help. Pablo says that there will be no blowing up
of the bridge at all. Robert Jordan turns to Pilar and asks her what she thinks. Pilar says that she is in favor of
blowing up the bridge. She loves the Republic and the Republic needs the bridge blown up. Pablo confronts
her, but she tells him that she is for the bridge and against him. The other men also say that they are for Pilar,
which means that they are for the bridge. Pablo threatens Pilar, but she is unconcerned. Pablo is all for safety,
but there is no safety. She compares Pablo to a brave bullfighter who becomes a coward after he is gored. She
tells him that she is in command, not he. After Robert Jordan explains the plan to the men, Pablo again
threatens Pilar. Though she feels rage, quickly the rage turns to sorrow and despair. She knows where this is
going, as she has gone through it many times in her life. She calmly serves the men their dinner.
Chapter 5 Summary
Robert Jordan steps outside after the evening meal and notes the freshness of the air compared to the stenches
in the cave from men, horses, and food. He hears Rafael the gypsy strumming on his guitar, singing a sad
song. He hears someone ask Rafael to sing the song about the Catalan. Unwillingly, Rafael complies, singing
that it is better to be a “Negro” than a Catalan. Pablo’s voice calls out that there is too much noise. Rafael
starts in on another song but Pilar tells him to save it and he stops.
Robert Jordan sees Rafael walk over to a tree, and he approaches Rafael. He knows that Rafael has been
affected by the wine and absinthe. Rafael asks Robert Jordan why he did not kill Pablo when he had the
chance. Robert Jordan asks why he should kill him, and Rafael points out to him that he will have to kill Pablo
eventually. When Robert Jordan asks him if he is being serious, Rafael says that all the others were waiting
for him to shoot. Robert Jordan tells him that if this is the case, then they should be the ones to kill him.
Rafael says that this is Robert Jordan’s business, and Pablo has no friends. Robert Jordan tells Rafael that he
did not kill Pablo because he feared that it would bother the other men and the women. Rafael again urges him
to kill Pablo, but Robert Jordan says that this would be an assassination and the idea is repugnant to him.
Rafael suggests that he then provoke Pablo into an argument and then kill him. He repeatedly tells Robert
Jordan to kill Pablo and not wait until it becomes too difficult. Either provoke Pablo into an argument or take
advantage now of the quiet. They overhear a man’s heavy voice. It is Pablo. He approaches Robert Jordan
and tells him not to pay attention to Pilar. She has a great love for the Republic and is a good woman.
However, they should not have any difficulties but work together. He then goes off to check on the horses.
Rafael points out to Robert Jordan that he again missed an opportunity to shoot Pablo. The gypsy then says he
will go down to prevent Pablo from taking a horse and leaving. Robert Jordan suggests he go talk to Agustin,
Chapter 4 Summary 8
as Pablo will most likely go by him if he leaves. Alone, Robert Jordan reflects on his duties. He is tired, but he
must blow up the bridge. He believes it would still be wrong for him to kill Pablo because he has come there
to help with the insurrection. He sees that without Pilar there would be no organization in the camp. He thinks
that it would be better if it were she were to kill Pablo. In the starlight he sees Pablo talking to one of the
horses. Robert Jordan goes back to the cave and Pablo keeps on speaking to the horse, who does not
understand a word he is saying.
Chapter 6 Summary
Robert Jordan goes back into the cave, sits, and listens to Pilar. She is washing dishes while Maria dries them
and puts them away in a shelf dug into the cave wall. Pilar says it is strange that El Sordo has not come, as he
comes every evening. Robert Jordan says that perhaps he is doing some work. Pilar agrees that this is a
possibility, but if he does not come the next day they must go to see him. She says that it will not be a long
trip, but it will be good for exercise. Maria asks if she may go as well, and Pilar gives permission.
Pilar asks Robert Jordan if he thinks that Maria is pretty or if she is too thin. Robert Jordan replies that she is
“very well.” Maria gives him a cup of wine, telling him to drink and she will become even better. Robert
Jordan says he had better stop drinking then, because she already seems beautiful and more. Pilar is pleased
with this remark and tells Robert Jordan that he is one of the “good ones.” She asks him to speak further of
Maria’s qualities. Stumblingly he says she is intelligent. Maria giggles and Pilar is disappointed. He started
out well but ended lamely. She refers to him as “Don Roberto,” but he asks her to not do this. When she says
she was only joking, he says he does not believe it is a matter to joke about. The only title he will accept is
“camarada,” or “comrade.” He does not joke about politics. Maria speculates that Robert Jordan is a
Communist, but he says he is simply an anti-Fascist and has been for ten years. Pilar says she has been one for
twenty years. Maria tells him that her father was shot for being a Republican. Robert Jordan says that his
father was a Republican as well, even serving on the Republican National Committee. Maria says that
America is a country of Republicans so there is no danger. When Pilar asks him if his father is still active in
the “Republic,” Robert Jordan tells her that he is dead, having shot himself. She asks if was to avoid being
tortured. Robert Jordan says it was, but it is not the type of torture the Spanish woman means. He changes the
Pilar says that Robert Jordan and Maria are like brother and sister, but it is probably good that they are not.
Robert Jordan brushes Maria’s hair back, which she enjoys. Pilar remarks that they are getting her aroused, to
the point that she would even be glad when Pablo returns. When Maria leaves, Robert Jordan tells Pilar that
Rafael says he should have shot Pablo. Pilar say that it is not necessary. Pablo is no longer a threat. They all
prepare to go to sleep.
Chapter 7 Summary
Robert Jordan awakens outside in his sleeping robe (sleeping bag). He rolls on his pistol, which he adjusts out
of his way to the front. He is confused as to where he is, then he feels a hand on his shoulder. He turns with
the pistol in his hand under the robe. He relaxes when he sees it is Maria, and he pulls her down.
He tells her to get in because it is cold, but she says that she must not. He tells her again to get in and they will
talk about it later. Robert Jordan holds Maria tightly with his arm and tries to kiss her, but she turns away. He
tells her again to get in to the sleeping bag, but she says that she is afraid. He offers to help her, but she
refuses his help and climbs into the bag. He tries to kiss her, but she shivers against him. He laughs and tells
her that what she feels is just his pistol. He moves it behind him.
Chapter 5 Summary 9
Maria tells him that she is ashamed and frightened. She says she must not have sex with him unless he loves
her. He assures her that he does. She says she loves him and asks him to but his hand on her head as he did
previously. He does so, and suddenly she presses her face against him and begins to cry. She tells him that she
does not know how to kiss. Robert Jordan says that she does not need to kiss if she does not want to, but she
says she must do everything. They undress and she asks if she may go with him as Pilar said. She wants to go
to his home, but he tells her that he has no home. She wants to go with him and be his woman.
Robert Jordan asks Maria if she has loved others, to which she replies that she never has. However, she was
raped many times during her captivity. She turns away, saying that now he will not love her. He assures her
that he does, but both know that something has changed between them. She says that even if he does not love
her, she wants him to take her to his home. Maria tells him that Pilar has said that if she makes love to a man
whom she loves it will wipe out all the memory and the shame of the rapes. She says she has never kissed a
man, and Robert Jordan shows her how. She is now ready, and they make love.
Chapter 8 Summary
During the night Robert Jordan wakes up to feel Maria beside him. However, when he awakens in the
morning she is gone. He sees Pablo come out of the woods, probably checking on the horses. He sleeps some
more until he hears airplanes flying overhead. He sees many planes flying in groups of three. Pablo and Rafael
stand at the entrance to the cave, watching the planes pass. Robert Jordan knows that the pilots can probably
see the horses if they look.
Robert Jordan gets dressed then slips along the tall rocks to reach the cave entrance. He asks Pablo if planes
have flown over this location before; Pablo says there have never been this many. Robert Jordan knows this
means the situation is bad. He times them to see in what direction they are going to drop bombs, but he hears
nothing. He decides that there is no way that the Fascists flying the planes could know of the coming
Republican attack.
Robert Jordan summons Anselmo to him. He tells Anselmo to go to a spot to watch the road and keep track of
whatever passes along it. Anselmo tells him that he cannot write, so Robert Jordan shows him a way to keep
tallies of the passing vehicles. He tells him to take Rafael with him. He has Anselmo send Rafael to him. The
gypsy grins at him and asks if he “diverted” himself the night before. Robert Jordan tells him that he slept,
but Rafael knows better. Robert Jordan gives him directions, telling him to watch the sentries at the bridge to
determine the length of their guarding intervals and when they change guards. He gives Rafael his watch, and
the gypsy begins to joke around, which annoys Robert Jordan. He tells him to be serious, but Rafael objects
that he should be serious after what Robert Jordan and Maria did the night before. He tells the American that
he was supposed to kill a man (meaning Pablo), not make one with Maria. He tells him that he is too serious
already. Robert Jordan laughs and tells him not to be so serious then. When Rafael asks him what he is going
to do, Robert Jordan says that he is going to see El Sordo. As for the planes, he is sure they are going to bomb
an airfield.
Another man, Fernando, arrives. He went into La Granja the night before, where some insurgents are working.
He tells Robert Jordan that he heard nothing except rumors that the Republic is preparing an offensive, but he
does not know where. It is also rumored that the Republicans will try to blow up bridges if there is an
offensive, although the bridges are guarded.
Fernando is asked if he has ever gone to Valencia. He replies that he did, but he did not like it. Pilar says that
she was there with a former lover, a bullfighter. After the insurgents eat, the women clean up. They hear the
sound of the planes returning.
Chapter 7 Summary 10
Chapter 9 Summary
Standing at the entrance to the cave, Robert Jordan and the others watch the Fascist airplanes fly overhead.
The planes are flying so low they can see the pilots’ faces and scarves. Pablo fears that they can see his
horses, but Pilar says that they can probably see his cigarette butts, so they should come back inside and cover
the entrance with the blanket. When they hear no more planes, they leave the cave open.
As they make plans to leave, Pilar asks Robert Jordan if they should ride or walk. He says it is her choice, so
she chooses walking because it is good for the liver. Pablo asks Robert Jordan if he wants a horse for himself,
but he declines. He asks Maria if she wants a horse, but Pilar says it is better for her to walk because riding
will cause her to get stiff “in too many places and serve for nothing.” Robert Jordan blushes at her
insinuation. Pilar asks him if he slept well and repeats her earlier pronouncement that Maria has no diseases,
though it is a miracle that she escaped catching something from her captors. She asks him if they made love,
but he does not reply, so she knows they did. Robert Jordan is concerned that Maria might become pregnant,
but Pilar thinks that is the least of their worries. Maria will go with Robert Jordan, though he says that he
cannot take a woman where he is going. Pilar reminds him that they are all in this together.
Pilar tells Robert Jordan that she slept with Pablo last night and asked him why he didn’t kill the American.
Pablo believes that Robert Jordan is a “good boy.” Later, she heard him crying because all his men left him.
Pilar assures him that they are following her and that she is his woman.
Robert Jordan and Pilar talk about faith, women, and the Republic. As Agustin approaches, Robert Jordan
goes to Maria. Fernando is sitting at the table. He says he does not like the relationship between Maria and the
American, but Pilar assures him that they are now engaged. Fernando and Agustin argue, with the latter’s
conversation filled with vulgarity, to which Pilar objects. Pilar tells Agustin that Robert Jordan is very smart.
Agustin says he has no confidence in Pablo, but Pilar says she has faith in him for this one mission, even with
all his fear.
Chapter 10 Summary
Robert Jordan, Pilar, and Maria stop to rest and to see El Sordo. Robert Jordan asks Pilar if she ever goes to
Segovia; Pilar replies that she is too ugly to go there. The others protest, but she insists and asks them to think
what it is like to be an ugly woman who feels beautiful inside. She has had many men, she says, but
eventually they all see her ugliness.
The conversation changes and they talk of the revolution. Robert Jordan asks Pilar where she was at the start
of the movement. Pilar tells him that she was in her town. Robert Jordan asks if that was Avila, since that is
where Pablo had said he was from. Pilar says that Pablo lies, that he is from a small town. Pilar is hesitant to
talk about what happened there because of its brutality, but Robert Jordan and Maria insist.
The insurrectionists had surrounded the barracks where several Fascists were hiding. Pablo placed dynamite
against one wall and gave the Fascists an ultimatum. They refused, and he blew up the building. Two were
killed and others wounded or surrendered. Pablo took the four surrendered Fascist guards and had them line
up against another wall. He shot them in the back of the head one by one.
When the Republicans won the town, the remaining Fascists were placed in a church along with a priest to
give them their last rites. One at a time, the Fascists were brought out and made to run a gauntlet. At first the
Republicans were reluctant to beat the Fascists, but by the third one they had become brutal. Using bats and
Chapter 9 Summary 11
sticks, they beat the men as they ran and eventually threw them off the edge of a cliff. After a while, the
Republicans stormed the building, killing the Fascists with bats, sickles, and pitchforks. They hauled the dead
and mutilated bodies out into the plaza to throw over the cliff. By this time, many of the Republicans were
drunk. Pilar says that she became sickened by the actions of the drunken men. The next time a village is taken,
she says, the drunk should be rounded up and disposed of first.
Maria is sickened by this tale and does not want to hear any more. Pilar says she will not tell her about the
retaking of the town by the Fascists a few days later because it was even more brutal. Robert Jordan wants to
hear but can get Pilar to promise only that she will tell him about it later when Maria cannot hear. Maria
laments that there do not seem to be any pleasant things to speak of.
Chapter 11 Summary
Robert Jordan, Maria, and Pilar have reached the camp and are met by Joaquin, a young, friendly guard who
knows the women. He determines that Robert Jordan is the dynamiter about whom they have heard so much.
He flirts with Maria, recalling the time when he carried her away from the train attack when she was rescued.
She does not remember him. Pilar says that Joaquin had wanted to be a bullfighter but failed.
Joaquin explains that he has been part of the Republic since he was sixteen, when he was a shoeshine boy.
The Fascists have killed his parents, his sister, and her husband. When Robert Jordan responds, “What
barbarians,” he marvels at the number of times he has said this on hearing similar stories. Remembering
Pilar’s story of Pablo’s killing of the four guards, he wishes she could write so she could record her
memories. He thinks that perhaps he will eventually write it all down. After the war, he believes he will have
more perspective. He remembers a Belgian boy who had survived an attack. Afterward, all he did was cry.
Pilar, however, was a psychiatrist. He looks at Maria and remembers a fantasy in which he was adored by the
actresses Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo.
Joaquin begins to cry as he relates the story of his family’s death. Pilar comforts him, telling him that they are
his family now. Robert Jordan agrees, but Joaquin is not comforted. They are joined by an older man. It is El
Sordo, the leader of this band of guerillas. He gives them a drink, which El Sordo explains has come from the
La Granja. He is very happy that Robert Jordan has come to dynamite the bridge. They discuss the troop
movements and the planes. Robert Jordan suggests that they blow up the bridge that night. Although El Sordo
agrees this is a good plan, it is not the plan given by the orders of his superiors. They are to wait for the attack
to begin and then bomb the bridge. El Sordo asks Pilar how Pablo is. She tells him that Pablo is growing
worse every day.
The group discusses where they will go after this mission. Pilar will leave Maria and Robert Jordan to go on
alone. She verbally attacks Maria, referring to her as a whore, but she does not mean it. She is jealous that
Maria has a man like Robert Jordan, that she is getting old, and that she cannot serve the Republic as she
wishes. They all settle down to eat in preparation for what is to come.
Chapter 12 Summary
As Robert Jordan, Maria, and Pilar leave El Sordo, they can tell that the leader is anxious to get rid of them.
He answers questions politely but obviously is ready for them to go. Pilar asks Santiago about it, but he
assures her that it is all right, though it causes him to think too.
They do not speak as they continue walking down the steep trail to their camp. Robert Jordan notices that
Pilar is looking pale. He tells her to rest for a minute, but she refuses. Maria also wants her to stop, and
eventually she agrees. She apologizes to Maria for the way she spoke to her previously. Maria says that she
Chapter 10 Summary 12
does not mind what the older woman says when she is angry, and that she is angry often. Pilar, however, says
that it is worse than anger. Maria goes to her and puts her head on her lap. Pilar tells Robert Jordan that he can
have Maria in a little while, but Maria asks her not to talk like that. Pilar explains that she has never wanted
Robert Jordan, but she is still jealous. She truly wants Maria’s happiness, but she is still jealous. She may be
an older woman, and an ugly one in her opinion, but she still desires men.
Pilar tells Maria that she (Maria) is meant for Robert Jordan. She says that few women would come out and
admit their jealousy, but Maria begs her not to speak of it. Pilar says she will continue to say it until she no
longer wishes to say it. Now she no longer wishes to say it, so she stops. She calls Maria a “little rabbit”
because she overheard Robert Jordan call her that. Robert Jordan blushes at being caught in this endearment.
Pilar asks him why he says nothing, inquiring if the cat or some other animal has got his tongue. Robert
Jordan insists not, that he alone has his tongue. Pilar asks him if he likes the taste of it, and Robert Jordan says
not much. He tells Pilar that she is a hard woman. She asks him in return if he is complicated. He says that he
is not, nor is he simple. Pilar is pleased with him even though she could not take Maria from him.
Pilar says that she is not like herself that day. The bridge has given her a headache. She says that she will go
on and leave Maria and Robert Jordan alone. Robert Jordan is worried because she looked so ill previously,
but Maria tells him to let her go ahead.
Chapter 13 Summary
After Pilar leaves, Robert Jordan and Maria make love. Robert Jordan feels the earth move beneath him.
Afterward, he asks Maria if the earth moved for her as well, and she admits that it did. Maria regrets that her
hair is so short, but Robert Jordan insists that he finds her beautiful.
They continue walking down the mountain. Robert Jordan reflects on his future. He ponders the possibility of
marrying Maria. He does not know where they will live, however. He has difficulty seeing her as a
professor’s wife in an American college town. He wants to return to teaching Spanish in a university but
wonders if he will be able to get a position now that he has fought with the Communists in the Spanish Civil
War. He fears he may be blacklisted. He thinks about his political views and realizes that he no longer has
any. He is fighting for the Communists because he likes their discipline. But when the war is over, he will not
consider himself a Communist.
Robert Jordan thinks about the women in his past, of which there have been several. He has not loved any one
as he loves Maria. But he realizes that the intensity of his passion may be short-lived. He thinks it might
simply be because Pilar pushed Maria into his arms, though he realizes that he was attracted to her from his
first sight of her. Maria brings his attention back to the present, stating that she wants to learn the little things
required if she wants to be his woman. He insists that she does not need to learn all that, but she says she
As they continue down the mountain, they see Pilar sitting against a tree with her head on her arms. They rush
down, but she insists that she was only sleeping. Pilar begins to press Maria for information about her
love-making experience with Robert Jordan, who becomes angry with her and wants to slap her. Maria
repeatedly refuses to answer her questions but at last tells her that she felt the earth move. Pilar also drags this
information out of Robert Jordan. She tells him that such experiences occur only three times in one’s life.
Robert Jordan realizes that Pilar is trying to keep her hold on life through Maria. He contemplates pursuing a
formal study of women, starting with Pilar. He tells her that he is tired of all her mysteries. He also tells her to
leave Maria alone. Looking up at the sky, Pilar predicts snow even though it is late in May.
Chapter 12 Summary 13
Chapter 14 Summary
By the time Robert Jordan, Maria, and Pilar return to the camp, it has begun to snow. Pablo predicts a
significant snowstorm. Robert Jordan asks him if Rafael has yet returned, but he has not. He asks Pablo to go
with him to the upper post, but Pablo says he will have no part of this bombing mission. He warns the
American that he might miss the post, but Robert Jordan says that Anselmo is waiting for him. Pablo says that
the snowstorm may delay the offensive. They go into the cave where Maria is cooking on the fire. Pablo and
Robert Jordan drink a toast to the snow. Pablo tells Robert Jordan that it will be cold sleeping outside in the
snow, but Robert Jordan knows that his sleeping robe is filled with eiderdown and has kept him warm on
many snowy nights.
Pablo bosses Maria around, telling her to wipe of the table, but she ignores him. Robert Jordan begins to be
filled with rage at Pablo but manages to keep it subdued. Pablo predicts that the snow will last for several
days. He begins a story about his first meeting with Pilar. He was taking care of the horses of a matador, and
Pilar was the matador’s woman. The matador, Finito, was small, which to Pablo made it seem unlikely that
he would have any success in the ring. Inwardly, Pilar despises Pablo for his prejudice against Finito. She had
stayed with him even when he became drunk and objectionable at a dinner given in his honor. She took care
of him, nursing his wounds from the bull fights. She stayed with him until he died. After the funeral, Pilar
took up with Pablo.
Rafael returns to the cave, covered with snow. He tells Robert Jordan that the watches at the bridge are in
six-hour increments, with two men at a time on the bridge. There are eight men and a corporal at the road
mender’s hut. From what he could tell, these are the only Fascists guarding the bridge. Anselmo is at the
sawmill, keeping watch on it as well as the road. Nothing much has changed. Robert Jordan gets his coat,
ready to go for Anselmo. Rafael says he plans on staying by the fire. He tells one of the other men in the cave
where Anselmo is located so that he can guide Robert Jordan there.
Chapter 15 Summary
Anselmo stands on the downwind side of a tree, trying to stay warm during the snowstorm. He has seen
nothing unusual and considers returning to the cave. It is getting colder, and he must leave soon or he will
freeze. As he waits, he hears the sound of a motorcar. It is camouflaged and carries a member of the general
staff of the Fascist party, but he does not know this. He simply marks down the car as Robert Jordan
instructed him. He has not differentiated between the military cars and the civilian, which Robert Jordan
probably would have appreciated. All Anselmo has is the number of cars that have passed on the road.
It is now so cold that Anselmo considers that he must go back to the cave before nightfall. He has no fear of
getting lost, but he is concerned that Robert Jordan will do so if he comes to get him. He abides by his orders
until further notice. He watches the sawmill and contemplates the warmth that is enjoyed by the men inside.
He remembers the first time that he killed a man, in Otero. Pablo threw bombs inside the room where the men
were sitting. This was in Pablo’s heyday, which has now ended.
Inside the sawmill, the soldiers discuss the May snowstorm. They talk of their part in the war, especially their
current guard duty. They would not mind staying in this spot, but they would like shorter rotations. They are
confident that their side will win.
Back at the tree, Anselmo hopes that he does not have to kill anyone. He regrets not being able to say prayers
now that he has lost his faith. He thinks there must be some type of confession after the war so he can achieve
Chapter 14 Summary 14
some type of civic cleansing. He is glad that his wife died before the war began, and he regrets not having had
children. He experiences intense loneliness, especially in the nighttime.
Robert Jordan and Fernando (the man who comes with him in place of Rafael) come to get Anselmo. They
take him back to the cave, to warmth and food. Anselmo tells Robert Jordan that there has not been much
action. Anselmo is glad he stayed at his post. Fernando is very quiet. Robert Jordan asks him what he is
thinking about. Fernando replies that he is thinking of supper, eager even for Pilar’s “average” cooking.
Robert Jordan considers him a second Calvin Coolidge because of his lack of communication.
Chapter 16 Summary
As Robert Jordan, Anselmo, and Fernando come into the cave out of the storm, Pilar tells Robert Jordan that
El Sordo had been there, bringing him a bottle of whiskey. Robert Jordan ponders the difference between two
kinds of Europeans: the French would have stayed to share a first drink, leaving what was left to him; the
Spaniards leave the whole bottle when they cannot stay. With much bickering between Maria and Pilar, the
women provide warm food and clothes for the three men. Pablo is being insulting. Robert Jordan wants Maria
to eat with the men, but she says that she and Pilar will eat afterward.
Pablo asks Robert Jordan about Montana, whether that is the place where men wear skirts. Robert Jordan
corrects him, telling him that is Scotland, but Pablo continues to badger him. Primitivo, one of the other men,
politely asks him about mountains and farms. Robert Jordan explains the homesteading act, that a farmer can
earn free land by living on and improving it. The men want to know if there are large landowners and what
danger they pose. Robert Jordan explains that inheritance tax and income tax laws are meant to level the
differences in income. Primitivo asks if there will be fighting in Montana between the government and the
large landowners, and Robert Jordan says there might be.
Pablo, now significantly drunk, says that he regrets killing the Fascists in his village. If he could, he would go
back and raise them from the dead. The talk turns to Robert Jordan’s original purpose in coming to Spain, to
learn the language and the country because he is a Spanish instructor in a university. Pablo says he must be a
fake professor since he has no beard. He continues badgering Robert Jordan until the American decides he
must provoke Pablo into an argument so he can kill him. However, Pablo is not provoked. Agustin tries to
provoke him, but Pablo still resists. Agustin slaps then hits him in the mouth. Still he remains calm. He
decides to go to check on his horses. Agustin calls him a horse lover and suggests that he go have sex with his
horses. Pablo says that his horses have more sense than the men there. They are led by a woman with her
brain between her legs, and now a foreigner (Robert Jordan) has come to destroy them. Pilar shouts at him,
telling him to get out. He leaves but promises to return shortly.
Chapter 17 Summary
After Pablo leaves, the others talk about what to do with him. Pilar tells Robert Jordan that now he has seen
how Pablo truly is. Robert Jordan asks what he will do, and Pilar tells him that Pablo is capable of doing
anything. Robert Jordan asks where the automatic rifle is; it is wrapped in a blanket in the corner. Pilar says
that Pablo would not touch the rifle—bombs are more his style.
Rafael says that it was idiocy and weakness in Robert Jordan to not kill him the previous night. Pilar states
that she is now in favor of Pablo being killed, as is Agustin. Each person is given a chance to give his opinion.
Only Fernando asks if it is possible to hold him as a prisoner. This is impractical because it would take two
men to stand guard over him, and they do not have the extra men. Rafael suggests selling him to the Fascists,
but this idea is distasteful to everyone. Pilar warns them that if they keep on talking they will give Pablo the
opportunity to destroy them all. Rafael then suggests turning Pablo over to El Sordo and having him sell
Chapter 15 Summary 15
Pablo to the Fascists. Pilar tells him to shut up, that she is feeling against him now too. Primitivo says that the
Fascists will pay nothing and will shoot whomever hands Pablo over to them as well. In the end, everyone
agrees that Pablo presents a significant danger to the Republic and must be killed. Robert Jordan volunteers to
do it. Maria agrees, but Pilar tells her that she has no voice in this matter. Robert Jordan says he will kill Pablo
that night.
The blanket covering the entrance is lifted and Pablo enters. Everyone stops talking. He grins and asks if they
were talking about him. No one answers. He tells Maria to get him some wine. Robert Jordan pulls Agustin to
one side and warns him to be careful about provoking Pablo. They return to the group, where Pablo is saying
that the snow is decreasing. He then tells the group that he is now in favor of dynamiting the bridge. Pilar
guesses that he had overheard their plotting to kill him. He says that previously he had been drunk but now
has changed his mind. Agustin goes outside, despite the storm, because he says he cannot stay in this insane
Chapter 18 Summary
With Pablo’s change of mind concerning the mission to blow up the bridge, Robert Jordan feels as if he is on
a merry-go-round, and not a pleasant one. There are no prizes, and no one would choose to go on this ride.
When it is over, you are right back where you started.
As the storm dies down, Robert Jordan works on his plans to blow up the bridge. When he finishes, he regrets
ever having wasted time on Pablo. His meeting Maria has changed everything. He contemplates going to
Madrid after the war for a few days’ vacation. He thinks of staying at the Florida Hotel and dining at
Gaylord’s, where many Russian expatriates hang out. When he first joined the guerrilla forces, it was at
Gaylord’s that he gained insider information that led to his becoming a demolitions expert. Many of the
Spanish leaders of the Republic were trained in the Soviet Union. He learned that many of them were not
peasants as they pretended to be. He reflects that, if the Republican troops were indeed led by peasants, they
would all be like Pablo and good for nothing. Still, the leaders’ attempts to deceive their followers as to their
true origin bothered Robert Jordan.
Robert Jordan thinks about taking Maria to Gaylord’s and realizes that this would be impossible. He would
get a separate room for her at the Florida. He would go to Gaylord’s on his own and then come back to her.
He thinks of Karkov, the Soviet journalist he met at Gaylord’s. Karkov had a wife, perhaps another one, and
a mistress. All were agreeable women, which showed Karkov’s excellent taste in ladies. Karkov had been
responsible for some of the Russians in Madrid. If the city fell to the Fascists, Karkov was to kill them. He
would make sure that the bodies could not be identified as Russians. This reminds Robert Jordan of an attack
on Madrid. He was pulling a body out of a car. When the man’s comrade told him to go help a third man, a
British economist interrupted him. Robert Jordan was not impressed by the man’s airs. Karkov had told him
about the economist previously. Karkov had also suggested that Robert Jordan should write more. He read the
one book he had published and liked its style. Robert Jordan planned to write another book when the war was
Chapter 19 Summary
Maria sees Robert Jordan sitting quietly and asks him what he is doing. He says that he has been thinking, not
of the bridge but of her and a hotel in Madrid. She asks him if there are many Russians in Madrid, and he says
there are very few. Maria objects, saying that the fascist periodicals say there are hundreds of thousands there,
but Robert Jordan says these are lies.
Chapter 17 Summary 16
Maria says she liked Kashkin, the Russian she had most recently known, though she does not remember him
well. All she remembers is that he was beautiful and brave. Pilar says he was not beautiful at all, while Robert
Jordan says that he was a great friend. Pilar points out that Robert Jordan shot Kashkin. All the others stop
what they are doing and stare at Robert Jordan, who now wishes that he had not told this to Pilar while they
were at El Sordo’s. He says that he shot Kashkin at his own request because he was badly wounded. Rafael,
on hearing of the manner of Kashkin’s death, said that the Russian had mentioned this possibility several
times when he was in the camp. Rafael had promised to shoot him if came to that point. Andres, one of the
other men, asks Robert Jordan if he believes it is possible to know of his impending death. The American does
not believe this or any other superstition.
The talk turns to Pilar’s ability to read people’s fortunes in their palms. Robert Jordan is deaf to all this
possibility, she says, and she is convinced she saw death in Kashkin’s face. What is more, she smelt the smell
of death. She tells about a matador that she knew on whom a certain Blanquet smelled death. No one believed
him but the matador died in the bull ring. Robert Jordan asks Pablo what he thinks about this. Pablo is
uncertain, though he does know that Pilar can tell certain forthcoming events.
Fernando asks Pilar what death smells like. She says that first he must imagine the smell of the hold of a ship
locked up for a storm. Then imagine the breath and taste of the mouths of old women who drink the blood of
the animal sacrifices. Next he should think of the smell of a bucket full of dead flowers. Next go to the place
where homeless prostitutes sell themselves, lying on dead flower beds, and smell the scent of the wet earth,
the dead flowers, and the sex. All this is the smell of death. Pilar says Kashkin smelled like this when she saw
him. Robert Jordan says that it is then a good thing that he shot him. He goes to the cave entrance, looks out,
and announces that the storm is over.
Chapter 20 Summary
Ready to bed down for the night, Robert Jordan prepares his sleeping spot by cutting down some pine boughs,
spreading them on the snow, and securing them with a log and a plank he takes from inside the cave. Pilar
objects that he has destroyed her new-made shelves. Robert Jordan apologizes, but Pilar says there are more
planks at the sawmill. When she asks him what type of bed he has made, Robert Jordan replies that it is made
in the style of his country. He asks her if there will not be sentries now that the storm is over. Pilar tells him
that Fernando will stand sentry, so Robert Jordan bids them all good-night. Pilar asks him if he would like to
take a sheep hide for his bed, but he declines.
Fernando goes out into the night with Robert Jordan, telling him that he has strange ideas to sleep outside on
such a night. Robert Jordan answers that he is accustomed to it. He asks Fernando when he is relieved from
guard duty. Fernando tells him at four o’clock. When Robert Jordan states that it will be very cold between
then and four, Fernando teasingly says he is accustomed to it.
Robert Jordan places his sleeping robe on the pine boughs, undresses, and waits for Maria. He thinks about
Pilar and her scent of death. To eradicate that from his mind, he concentrates on the scents of the pine trees.
He remembers the smells of his youth in Montana, with the cattle, wood smoke, and the burning autumn
leaves. It is the odor of nostalgia, he believes.
He sees someone come out of the cave, look around, then go back in. He prays that Maria will come out soon
rather than wait until the rest are asleep. Not long after, he sees her come running barefoot through the snow,
wearing only a chemise that she calls her wedding shirt. He recognizes it from the night before. She begs him
to tell her again how much he loves her. She states that she loves him too and that she is his wife. They
undress and hold each other close in the cold. Soon they make love, and afterward Maria cuddles against him.
She apologizes for saying that making love to him was like moving into death, but he knows what she meant.
Chapter 19 Summary 17
They soon go to sleep. When Robert Jordan awakens in the night, he holds her tightly, but she does not wake
up. He kisses her neck, pulls his pistol up closer to his side, and thinks throughout the night.
Chapter 21 Summary
Robert Jordan awakens to feel a warm wind blowing. The snow is melting quickly and will most likely be
gone by noon. He hears the sound of a horse approaching. He tells Maria to hide under the robe. Robert
Jordan sees the horseman coming through the trees and aims his pistol at him. It is not a man he recognizes.
He is wearing a khaki beret, a blanket cape, black boots, and a medal on his chest. Robert Jordan aims at the
medal and fires. The horse rears, throwing off its rider and dragging him through the snow, leaving a bloody
streak behind.
Robert Jordan tells Maria to get dressed quickly as the others come out of the cave. He tells Primitivo to catch
the horse and asks who was supposed to be on guard. Pilar tells him it was supposed to be Agustin. Robert
Jordan tells Anselmo to take two other men and ride up to where Agustin was told to stand guard. Primitivo
brings the horse and the body back to camp.
Robert Jordan feels Maria against his knees, dressing under the robe. He realizes she has no place in his life
He knows that the Fascist patrol will miss the dead man and come looking for him, following the tracks to the
camp. Hopefully the snow will melt first, or else something will happen to the patrol. He tells Pablo to get
down below, then he gets the submachine gun. He tells Pablo he will take it up to Agustin. Pablo is to ride the
horse away from the camp to confuse the patrol, should it come. Pablo says it is better not to make more
tracks in the snow in case the planes come. Robert Jordan tells Fernando to take care of the bags with the
Turning, Robert Jordan sees Maria standing with Pilar. She comes running up the trail. She asks Robert
Jordan if she can go with him, but he tells her she cannot. She offers to hold the legs of the submachine gun,
but again Robert Jordan tells her she cannot go with him. He tells her to stay and take good care of her
wedding shirt. She begs him to kiss her, but he refuses. She asks him if he noticed that the medal the Fascist
rider wore was a Sacred Heart, which he did. She asks him to tell her that he loves her. He tells her that he
will not. He tells her to go back, but she again begs him to let her go with him. She badgers him, but he
refuses to give in. Robert Jordan leaves along with Primitivo, who says that if her hair were not so short she
would be a pretty girl. Robert Jordan is thinking of something else, however. Primitivo asks how she is in bed,
and Robert Jordan tells him to watch his mouth. He ignores him, looking at the position where he means to
place the gun.
Chapter 22 Summary
Robert Jordan arrives at the gun position and is not pleased with what he sees. He tells Primitivo to cut him
some branches to create a blind. Agustin is told to move the gun to a different place farther out. Anselmo is
sent down to the cave to retrieve an axe.
Robert Jordan asks Agustin if they never had a proper placement for the gun; Agustin replies that no one ever
showed them how to place it. It was simply brought up by porters and left. Robert Jordan is disgusted with the
way this insurgency is being run. Agustin says that they have experimented with the gun and even took it
apart, but they had difficulty putting it back together for two days. Now they leave it alone. Robert Jordan
points out to them how the gun is useless in its present position. Agustin understands but reminds the
American that the insurgents have never fought in defense except in their own town. Robert Jordan
Chapter 20 Summary 18
understands and tells him that they will learn together.
Robert Jordan sees Pablo riding down the slope and disappearing into the trees. Robert Jordan hopes he
doesn’t run right into the cavalry. Primitivo brings branches, which they use to hide the gun. Robert Jordan
warns them to lie down flat if they hear a plane approaching.
Robert Jordan makes a count of the people in the camp; there are ten. He fears that the horse tracks in the
snow will reveal El Sordo’s location to the Fascist planes overhead. Hopefully the snow will melt fast,
though he is sure the tracks were spotted the day before. He prays that there will be no fighting this day. They
may be able to hold out if the attacks wait until tomorrow, but they are unprepared at the moment. He muses
that the bridge will be easy to destroy, although he had worried about this previously. He has little concern for
the well-being of Pablo, who should be able to take care of himself.
Rafael finally arrives at the gun position, carrying two hares he caught as they were mating. Robert Jordan
tries to make him see how irresponsible he was to leave his post and let the cavalry ride through without
warning, but the gypsy is more interested in his catch. Robert Jordan watches two crows overhead in case a
signal from them will indicate the approach of someone. He feels Rafael is worthless as a soldier but is needed
for the next day. He tells the men signals to use in case of an approach. He reminds them of the importance of
the destruction of the bridge: with the bridge gone, they will be more likely to take Segovia, an important city
for strategic purposes. Robert Jordan notices one of the crows flying up into the trees without making a sound.
He knows this means someone is coming.
Chapter 23 Summary
As Robert Jordan sees the crow fly into the tree, he tells Agustin to get down. He also signals to Anselmo,
who is bringing more trees to camouflage the gun. He hears nothing and sees nothing, but Primitivo signals
with his gun four times. He places his hand on Agustin’s shoulder to hold him back as four horsemen ride
into view. The lead rider circles around the tracks in the snow made by Pablo’s horse. Then he points to the
opening in the rocks where the gun is hidden.
Robert Jordan is tempted to shoot the four horsemen, but he knows there are probably others close behind
these. He feels Agustin start to cough but suppress it. The four men ride off into the timber. Robert Jordan
looks behind him to where Anselmo has dropped the tree and lain hidden. He sees Rafael striding toward
them and waves him down.
Agustin laments the fact that they did not shoot the four riders, but then Primitivo signals many times with his
rifle. As the rest of the cavalry rides up, Robert Jordan considers that Pablo had only forty-five minutes’ head
start. The cavalry rides off, as did the other four horsemen.
Robert Jordan calms Agustin, telling him that if he had fired on the four men, they would have had to deal
with the entire cavalry. As Anselmo comes up to them, Robert Jordan tells him that they do not need any
more trees. The cavalry might ride back to this site and notice any differences, which would give away the
gun’s location. Agustin still regrets not being able to kill the Fascists.
Robert Jordan tells Anselmo to go back to the post from the day before, or another equally likely spot, and
report on any movements. After dark, he is to come back into camp and another guard will be sent in his
place. Agustin wants to go, but Robert Jordan tells him that he is needed at the gun because he understands it
better than anyone else. Anselmo promises to go as soon as the snow melts in the warm sun.
Chapter 22 Summary 19
Robert Jordan asks Agustin what he thinks Pablo’s chances are of getting caught. Agustin says that though
Pablo is not what he once was, he is still smart. Robert Jordan tells Anselmo that the next day he is to go into
La Granja but to remember to eat the papers he carries if he is stopped. They all carry both Republican and
Fascist papers, so Anselmo should take care to eat the right ones.
Agustin says that the government is daily moving toward the Right (the Fascist side). They may win the war
and still lose the revolution. Agustin says that afterward they must shoot the anarchists and the Communists.
Again he regrets losing the chance to shoot the four horsemen. Robert Jordan thinks of how the insurgents kill
coldly, unlike the Fascists. He tells Agustin not to let Rafael come up to them but to send him back for more
food, no matter how much food he has brought with him.
Chapter 24 Summary
Robert Jordan and the other men eat breakfast as the warm wind continues to melt the snow. The Spanish are
amazed that the American eats onions for breakfast. When Agustin asks if this is a common practice in
America, Robert Jordan states that it is looked down upon there. Agustin objects to the smell, but Robert
Jordan is in a good mood and is indifferent to his opinion. Agustin says there is a big difference between
Robert Jordan and Kashkin, and Robert Jordan agrees: he is alive and Kashkin is dead. As soon as he says
this, he regrets it. He does not know why he said something so hateful. Aloud, he says that Kashkin suffered
much, whereas he is among those who suffer little.
Agustin says that now Robert Jordan has Maria. He tells the American that Pilar has kept the girl away from
the other men but has given her to Robert Jordan almost like a gift. Robert Jordan says that she was given into
his care. Agustin asks what his plans are for her after the bridge. Robert Jordan says that she will go with him.
Agustin confesses that he loves Maria too, though he has never touched her. He begs Robert Jordan not to
treat her badly. Seeing that Agustin is serious, Robert Jordan says that he will marry her. Agustin rejects this,
that marriage is not possible during this war. But the intention is what is important. Agustin also tells Robert
Jordan that it is no light thing that Maria has slept with him. She is not a whore, despite this.
Robert Jordan has Agustin promise that he will give him his confidence and obey him even though his future
orders may appear wrong. Agustin promises his obedience because Robert Jordan was correct about the four
horsemen. Agustin says that Pilar and the other men are of great value, that they are dependable. He asks
Robert Jordan if their mission to blow up the bridge will be bad, to which the American replies that it might
be. All of a sudden, he hears something. He hushes Agustin and they hear the sound of automatic rifle fire.
Robert Jordan looks up at Primitivo above them. He also has heard it. Robert Jordan tells Agustin that there is
fighting at El Sordo’s camp. When Agustin suggests that they go up to help him, Robert Jordan says they will
stay where they are.
Chapter 25 Summary
As they listen to the attack on El Sordo’s camp, Primitivo does not understand why Robert Jordan has
commanded them to remain where they are. The American tells him to stay with the gun and not to fire unless
the troops come straight toward them. Primitivo tries to argue in favor of aiding El Sordo. Robert Jordan
brushes him off and says he will explain his decision later. He tells Anselmo to stay with Agustin and the gun,
holding its legs should Agustin need to fire. Anselmo agrees and asks about his mission to La Granja. Robert
Jordan tells him it will wait until later.
Primitivo cries out again against the attack on El Sordo. Robert Jordan insists that they will do nothing. He
has expected this attack since the morning. El Sordo’s men went to steal horses, and the Fascists followed
their tracks in the snow. When Primitivo pleads to go to their aid, Robert Jordan says they are lost and it
Chapter 23 Summary 20
would be a mistake to divide the force they have remaining. Primitivo asks if he can go up with someone else
and the small machine gun. Robert Jordan says it will be useless. The sound of firing doubles in intensity, and
Primitivo is beside himself with frustration.
Pilar climbs up to the men. Robert Jordan tells her what is happening in El Sordo’s camp. Pilar expresses pity
for the men. She says Rafael told her there were massive cavalry troops but she dismissed his tale as an
exaggeration. Robert Jordan asks if she has packed; she has. He tells her that Pablo is about forty minutes
ahead of the cavalry. Pilar expresses her conviction that he will not be seen. Robert Jordan tells Pilar that
Primitivo wanted to go up to help El Sordo. Pilar tells Primitivo that he is crazy, that he would only die
quickly with them. She is contemptuous of the men’s exaggeration of the importance of the passing of the
cavalry. She says the impression of so little an event is the product of inaction.
Robert Jordan hears an airplane overhead. It is moving in the direction of El Sordo’s camp. They all keep
down as they watch the plane circle twice and then fly off toward Segovia. Pilar apologizes to Primitivo for
belittling him in his fear. Robert Jordan tells Pilar to keep Maria in the cave. She agrees and says she will send
Rafael to find some mushrooms to cook with his hares. They listen as the sound of gunfire decreases. Robert
Jordan says that it is not over but El Sordo and his men are surrounded. He asks Pilar if she brought him the
documentation carried by the soldier they killed that morning. She says she forgot it but will send it with
Chapter 26 Summary
Robert Jordan sits shirtless in the sun, enjoying the warming rays after the snow. It is now three o’clock in the
afternoon, and all the snow had melted by noon. No more horses had appeared. There is only sporadic gunfire
from El Sordo’s camp. He is reading the letters found in the pockets of the soldier he killed that morning.
Robert Jordan learns that the soldier was from the village of Tafalla in Navarra (a region in northern Spain)
and was twenty-one years old. He was unmarried and was the son of a blacksmith. He belonged to a regiment
that Robert Jordan had believed still remained in the north. He was a Carlist (a traditionalist, monarchist
faction) and had been wounded early in the war.
The first letter that Robert Jordan reads is from the man’s sister. She gives details of local happenings,
including that ten men from Tafalla have been killed. She is proud of her brother in his fight against the
Marxist forces. She reminds her brother of his protection by the saints.
The second letter is from his fiancée, who is concerned for his safety. After Robert Jordan reads this very
personal letter, he reads no more. Cynically, he thinks to himself that he has done his good deed for the day.
He asks Primitivo if he wants to read the letters, but the Spaniard says he cannot read. Robert Jordan gives
Primitivo a general account of the contents of the letters, but he is waging an internal battle with himself.
Robert Jordan mentally apologizes to the dead youth. He hopes that will do some good, but he knows it does
not. He asks himself how many he has killed. He does not know. He asks if he has a right to kill anyone. He
decides that he does not. Not all those he has killed have been real Fascists; in fact, he only knows of two who
were Fascists. He decides that no man has a right to kill anyone unless it is to prevent something worse
happening to others. He refuses to keep count, but he has no right to forget those whom he has killed.
He asks himself if he has a right to love Maria. He decides that he does despite his purpose of establishing a
purely materialistic conception of society; love is in no way materialistic. He wonders what it is like at El
Sordo’s camp. He considers what it would be like to surrender once you have been surrounded. He then hears
the approach of planes.
Chapter 25 Summary 21
Chapter 27 Summary
On the hilltop, El Sordo and his men are surrounded but making a valiant defense. His horse had been hit, so
he rode it to a place between two rocks, shot it, and used it as a barrier over which to fire. Of the five men who
made it to the hilltop, three are wounded. El Sordo has been shot once in the leg and twice in the arm.
The five men are spread out along the hilltop. The teenager, Joaquin, has used his helmet to dig a small trench
for protection. He recites Communist slogans: “Hold out and fortify, and you will win” and “It is better to die
on your feet than to live on your knees.” One of the other guerrillas tells him that their Soviet leaders have
their sons safely hiding in Russia rather than fighting in Spain. Joaquin does not believe it.
El Sordo believes that, as long as he has four men, he can hold out unless the Fascists bring up a trench
mortar. He thinks of the young lieutenant he shot who had led the advance up the hill. He admires the men’s
bravery; he can tell they will not attack until the planes come. One of the other men curses Pilar for not
coming to assist them. El Sordo reflects that he is not afraid to die, as seems likely, but he is angry at being
trapped on the hilltop. He hears the men below tell them to surrender before the planes blow them to pieces.
This strikes El Sordo as amusing, and he laughs.
Below on the slope, the Fascist Captain Mora sees no movement above. The other officers wonder if the
guerrillas are all dead. The planes should have come an hour previously, and it is still an hour before the
mortar is expected to arrive. Lieutenant Berrenda looks at the body of Julian on the hillside. Captain Mora
tells a young officer to go up to the hilltop, but he refuses unless it is a direct order. Berrenda agrees, thinking
the silence might be a trap. Captain Mora stands up, waves his arms, and shouts to the guerrillas to shoot him.
Above, El Sordo just laughs. Captain Mora continues to shout profanities, which bothers Berrenda, who is a
devout Catholic. He does not want that kind of language on their consciences at this time, when they might
die soon. El Sordo shoots the jumping Mora just as the planes arrive. As the artillery rains down on them,
Joaquin begins to recite the Hail Mary. All of El Sordo’s men on the hilltop are killed, with the exception of
Joaquin. The Fascists climb to the top. Berrenda sees Joaquin moving. He shoots him in the back of the head
then says prayers over the dead.
Chapter 28 Summary
Robert Jordan and Primitivo hear gunfire after the planes go away the first time. Robert Jordan tells himself
that the planes most likely bombed the hilltop but did not kill anyone. He repeats this thought to Primitivo.
When the gunfire stops, he feels a hollowness in his chest. When the sound of grenades reaches him, he feels
some relief. When the silence returns and continues, however, he knows it is all over for El Sordo and his
Maria comes up from the camp bringing stew, bread, and wine. She asks what the planes did, and Robert
Jordan tells her that it is over. Primitivo says that he cannot eat, but Robert Jordan tells him to eat anyway. He
tells Maria that she may stay with him now, but she says that she must return to Pilar, who is giving her
instruction. She asks Primitivo if he needs anything from the camp; he does not. He expresses his frustration
at not being allowed to go to El Sordo’s aid, but Robert Jordan tells him there was no choice so there is no
reason to speak of it.
Maria climbs down the rocks to the camp below as Robert Jordan watches her. An hour later he sees
Lieutenant Berrenda and his men riding their horses down the hillside. He notices a bundle with bulges like
peas in a pod. He also sees El Sordo’s gun.
Chapter 27 Summary 22
Lieutenant Berrenda regrets having to take the heads of the guerrillas. He feels it is a barbarous act, but it had
to be done to prove to his superiors that El Sordo was killed. He thinks of his friend Julian, who now lies dead
across the back of one of the horses. He begins to pray.
Anselmo also sees the horsemen ride past his spot. He recognizes El Sordo’s gun but he cannot figure out
what is in the oddly shaped bundle. When he rides through the hilltop where El Sordo met his death, he finds
the decapitated bodies and realizes what the bundle contained. He begins to pray, something that he has not
done since the movement first began. He rides down into the camp and is stopped by Fernando, who confirms
the deaths of El Sordo and his men. Fernando calls the Fascists barbarians. Anselmo says that they must
defeat the barbarians, take away all the artillery, and teach them dignity. Fernando agrees. Anselmo leaves
him and goes down to the cave.
Chapter 29 Summary
Anselmo enters the cave to find Robert Jordan and Pablo sitting at the table and drinking wine. Pilar is
keeping Maria at the back of the cave so she will not overhear what the men are saying. Anselmo relates what
he saw up on the hilltop: six people dead and decapitated. Robert Jordan just nods; Pablo says nothing. Robert
Jordan invites Anselmo to sit with them. He gives him a cup of wine, which burns as it goes down. The
second cup goes down more smoothly. Although he wants a third cup, Robert Jordan tells him the remaining
wine is for the next day.
Robert Jordan asks Anselmo for a report of what he saw that day. Anselmo gives him a detailed report, mostly
from memory, of every vehicle that passed on the road near his post. He tells of seeing the cavalry carrying
the bundle of heads as well as El Sordo’s gun.
Robert Jordan asks Anselmo who other than him has crossed the lines to the side of the Republic (they are
currently behind enemy lines). Anselmo tells him that Andres and Eladio have, though Andres is the better of
the two. Robert Jordan learns that it would take Andres three hours to cross, provided he is not overburdened
or stopped. He says he will write a dispatch for Andres to take across the line and deliver to General Golz.
He tells Anselmo that Golz will be at the Estado Mayor of the Division. Such military sounding words
confuse Anselmo, and he tells Robert Jordan they are sure to confuse Andres as well. Robert Jordan explains
that the Estado Mayor was selected by the General after Robert Jordan left him. All Andres has to do is to ask
around and it will be easy for him to find the headquarters.
Robert Jordan tells Anselmo that he will write out the dispatch and stamp it with a seal. He explains that the
seal will be honored by the Republicans. He sends Anselmo to fetch Andres so he can explain all this to him.
Anselmo reminds him that he will have to explain the plan very carefully to Andres, who understands military
terms even less than he does.
As Robert Jordan writes out the dispatch, Pablo tells him not to give up hope. Robert Jordan barely listens. In
the dispatch, he is explaining to Golz that the situation has changed and that the attack should be called off.
Robert Jordan’s orders were to blow up the bridge after the attack had begun. If the attack does not happen,
he will not have to blow up the bridge. When he is finished, he asks Pablo what he was saying. Pablo says
only that he has confidence. Silently, Robert Jordan wishes that he did as well.
Chapter 30 Summary
At the end of the evening, Robert Jordan gives his mind to reflection of his situation. Andres had been sent off
three hours previously with the dispatch. Everyone else knows what his job is the next morning. Either the
Chapter 28 Summary 23
attack will happen or it will not. Robert Jordan knows that Golz is not in a position to call off the attack by his
own authority. That power resides in Madrid. Someone will have to be sent there with the dispatch so they can
make the decision by morning.
Robert Jordan’s mind goes back and forth between possibilities. He worries that the planes were just a decoy,
that the main attack would be further south. The troops from Italy were supposed to be landing, but there will
not be enough for a two-front offensive. In the midst of his worry, Robert Jordan thinks of all the times that
miracles have happened and things have gone the way of the Republicans. He realizes that he must give up
worrying because the choice is not his to make. All he has to do is to follow orders. He must not give in to
worry or fear.
The thought of fear makes him think again of the heads the Fascists carried down from the hilltop following
their attack on El Sordo’s post. He thinks that, despite the presence of fear, he has done well, at least for a
Spanish professor from Montana. He thinks of another leader, Duran, who was a composer with no military
training. He has been reading about war since his childhood. His grandfather had fought in the American Civil
War and had interested young Robert in the military. He thinks about meeting Duran at the restaurant
Gaylord’s after the war. Then he almost resigns himself to the idea that, for him, there will not be an end to
He pushes this thought aside and thinks about the Indians that his grandfather killed. This is no different from
that, he tells himself. He thinks of the saber and the pistol that belonged to his grandfather. His father had used
the pistol to end his own life. After the funeral, the pistol was returned to him, but he threw it into a lake. He
kept the saber, however. His grandfather did not like to talk about his experiences killing people. Robert
Jordan wishes that there had not been such a time difference separating them because he would like to talk to
him about his current experiences.
Robert Jordan resigns himself to the fact that he does not want to be a soldier. He understands and forgives his
father for committing suicide, yet he thinks he is a coward and is ashamed of him. He settles in his mind that
he will have to blow up the bridge the next day. There is no escaping it; it is his destiny.
Chapter 31 Summary
That night, their last night at the camp, Robert Jordan and Maria sleep together again. Maria tells him she is
sore from their previous lovemaking and does not think she would now be “any good” to him. She thinks it
might have something to do with the gang rapes she experienced while she was held hostage. Robert Jordan
does not want to talk about it, and he thinks it is not a good sign for their last night that they cannot make
love. He tells her it is good enough just to hold her, but he feels it is a lie told out of his disappointment.
Maria tells Robert Jordan of her fear of what will happen the next day. He says there is no reason to fear, that
he has been in many situations worse than this—but this also is a lie. He begins to talk of their projected
journey to Madrid after the war. He tells her of his plan to leave her at the hotel while he investigates the
Russians, but he has changed his mind. He will take her wherever he goes. She says that she would rather stay
in the hotel and send out for clothes. Robert Jordan promises her many new clothes as well as some wine. She
says she would like to try whiskey, which he promises to get for her, though he feels it is not good for a
woman. Maria retorts that of course she has only had things that were good for a woman, referencing her rape.
Robert Jordan says that they will find a doctor in Madrid to fix whatever physical problem she has that is
preventing her from enjoying sex. He promises that he will marry her. She speaks of their rejection of the
Church in the movement, but he says he still wants to be married in a church.
Chapter 30 Summary 24
Maria tells Robert Jordan that Pilar has given her instructions on how to be a good wife for him. She has also
told her that they will most likely die the next day and that Robert Jordan knows this. Robert Jordan shrugs it
off, but inwardly his fear grows. Maria tells of her experience with the Fascists. Her father had been the mayor
of their town. He was a Republican, so he and her mother were shot. Rather than facing execution, Maria was
taken to a barbershop and had her hair cut off. Then she was taken to her father’s office where she was raped.
She tells Robert Jordan that she most likely cannot bear a son or daughter for him. He tells her that her love is
enough for him. Inwardly he rages against the Fascists who did these things to Maria and looks forward to
killing some of them the next day. He proclaims that he and Maria are now married. She accepts this and goes
to sleep. Robert Jordan thinks that he would indeed like to be married to her, that he is proud of her family.
Chapter 32 Summary
That same night, Karkov arrives in his car at the Hotel Gaylord in Madrid. He is wearing black riding boots,
gray riding breeches, and a short jacket. The two sentries at the entrance, who regularly pat down people
entering whom they do not know, barely look up when Karkov passes them.
In his apartment, many people are gathered, drinking. Some are in uniform, others are dressed casually.
Karkov goes immediately to a woman in a militia uniform. She is his wife, and he says something to her in
Russian. Across the room he sees his mistress. He approaches her and greets her warmly. He tells her that all
the Republic’s heroes are getting fat. She jokes with him, telling him that he is so ugly he would be jealous of
a toad. She asks if she may go to the offensive with him the following day. Karkov says no. He denies that
there is an offensive. His mistress tells him that everyone knows about it and that many women are going. He
tells her that she can go with anyone she likes. Then he asks who exactly told her. She tells him it was
Another man comes up to him and asks if he has heard the good news: all day the Fascists have been fighting
among themselves near Segovia, bombing their own planes. Delores (La Pasionaria) told the party the news.
Karkov cynically tells them man to write an article for Isvestia before he forgets his leading line. The man
thinks he is joking, but Karkov is not, so he goes to another room to begin writing the article.
Karkov sees a Hungarian man, about forty-eight years old, dressed in a general’s uniform. He asks him if
indeed Delores had been there. She was, the General replies, and the report of her news is true. There is also
talk of the attack the following day. The General suggests that all journalists should be shot for spreading the
news. Karkov tells him the American, Robert Jordan, is in the highlands where the offensive will take place.
The General speculates that he will have a report on it, but he will not get involved because he is unpopular
with Golz and his crew. Karkov tells the General that it is said he will be traveling, which makes the General
angry at all the gossip. Karkov announces that he is going to get a little sleep, though in a few hours he will be
heading up to the front where Golz will be attacking the next morning.
Chapter 33 Summary
At two o’clock in the morning, Pilar wakes Robert Jordan. At first he thinks it is Maria, but she is asleep
beside him. Then he grabs his gun until he sees in the dark that it is Pilar. She tells him that Pablo is gone and
that he has taken “something” of Robert Jordan’s. They go into the cave to Pilar’s blanketed off sleeping
corner. She shows Robert Jordan his two packs. One pack is slit, and it contains only some wire; the box
containing the exploder and the detonators, fuses, and caps are missing. He feels in the other sack. One packet
of explosives might be missing from the feel of it.
Robert Jordan expresses contempt for Pilar’s guarding skills. She explains to him that she slept with her head
against the sacks and one arm touching them. Pablo had gotten up in the middle of the night to urinate. When
Chapter 31 Summary 25
Pilar awoke again, he was gone. At first she thought that he had gone down to check on the horses, but he was
gone so long she realized he had taken off. She checked the bags and discovered the full enormity of the truth.
Robert Jordan and Pilar go outside. Robert Jordan asks Pilar if Pablo could get out with the horses any other
way than by the sentry (who at this time is Eladio). She tells him there are two possible ways. They walk
down to where the horses are staked out to feed. There are three horses remaining, but two are gone. Pilar
speculates that Pablo has been gone an hour.
Not seeing any chance of catching him, Robert Jordan says he will get what is left of the explosives and go
back to bed. Pilar offers to guard them, but Robert Jordan points out that she has failed at that job already.
Pilar knows how serious this is and how much she has disappointed the American. She says there is nothing
she would not do to get back his property; Pablo has betrayed them both.
Robert Jordan realizes he cannot afford to be angry at Pilar because he has to work with her on this mission.
He tells her that all is not lost, that there are ways of improvising. He asks her if Pablo has any caps and fuses.
He does. Pilar feels that she has failed both the American and the Republic. She says she is going up to the
sentry to see if Eladio has seen anything, but Robert Jordan tells her to go back to bed. They both need their
Chapter 34 Summary
Andres passes the Fascist post guarding the crests of the hills on his way to deliver Robert Jordan’s message
to Golz containing his advice to cancel the attack. He skillfully maneuvers through the trip wires that could set
off guns. He sees the run-down condition of the farm on which the post is set. Unlike the guerrilla fighters, the
Fascists do not need the ruined hay and grain. He thinks this will be changed in the morning.
Andres had been glad to take the message because it got him away from camp. He knows he should be back in
time for the attack, but he is not sure he wants to go back. Revenge for the death of El Sordo should provide
an incentive, but Andres thinks the leader’s death really had nothing to do with them. Andres thinks his
reaction to being given the message was similar to the times in his youth when he would be involved in the
sport of bull-baiting and he would awaken to find it raining and the bull-baiting cancelled.
Andres had been very brace in those days. He had patiently waited until the bull charged, then he would grab
him by the tail and pull him away from the other baiters. He had often been the first of the crowd to engage
the bull, biting its ear and bringing it down. The others had joked and teased him, but he knew they had great
respect for his bull-baiting abilities. Therefore, every year he had to repeat the same ear-biting stunt. Each
time he would feel ashamed, empty, proud, and happy all at the same time. He would not miss it for anything,
but he was always relieved when it was cancelled due to rain.
There is no question that he must go back and participate in the attack, Andres thinks. The others are all
committed to it, and he cannot let them down. He cannot let the “accident” of being given a message to
deliver provide an excuse to miss it. He sees a nest of partridges fly up. If it were not for the war, he thinks, he
would come back and gather the eggs and raise the partridges for his own use. If it were not for the war, he
would go with his brother Eladio to catch crayfish. If it were not for his father’s joining up with the
Republicans, Andres would have been with the Fascists because it is easier to live under a regime than to fight
it. Although he truly believes in the cause, it is a great responsibility. He would rather just concentrate on the
small, daily things of life. He goes forward, knowing there will be an armed spot at the top of the hill where
he will be challenged.
Chapter 33 Summary 26
Chapter 35 Summary
Unable to go back to sleep after discovering Pablo’s disappearance with some of the supplies for the
explosives, Robert Jordan seethes in anger. Maria is still sleeping, so he turns his back to her so he will not
wake her. He thinks it is ironic that he missed a few opportunities to kill Pablo and that Pablo has betrayed
them as they knew he would.
Robert Jordan speculates about the chance that Pablo merely threw the material away. It would not make any
difference, he thinks, because he could not find them in the dark. He curses himself again for trusting Pilar to
guard his sacks. He tries to calm himself, but his anger rises again. He rages against Pablo, the guerrillas, the
Spanish people, and the entire country of Spain. He thinks of the many Spanish people who, through their
incompetence, have been unable to change the system. It would not make any difference, he believes, because
the people would be tricked by any leader they had.
As his anger begins to lessen, Robert Jordan no longer believes his own ravings simply because he has begun
to exaggerate the whole thing. There have been many good Spanish people, he thinks. He could not be unjust
to the whole Spanish race; he despises injustice in judgment just as much as in government. In the end he feels
calmed and empty, he thinks, as does a man who has just had sex with a woman he does not love.
Robert Jordan turns to face Maria, who still sleeps quietly. She smiles in her sleep and moves closer to him.
He thinks with horror that previously in his anger he could have struck her if she had spoken. He judges a man
who is angry to be nothing more than an animal.
Holding Maria in his arms, he speculates about what he must now do. He decides the situation is not really so
bad. He is not sure that anyone has brought about a satisfactory explosion given the minimal materials he now
has. There are not enough people to carry out the mission, and now there is a shortage of explosives. But he
realizes that, like bitterness, anger is a luxury he cannot afford at the moment. He realizes that they will
probably be killed in the attack. He looks at Maria and thinks that a good night’s sleep is the only wedding
present he can give her. He then lies quietly, keeping track of the time on his watch.
Chapter 36 Summary
Andres continues his climb to the government position, where he is challenged as he knew he would be. He
could have passed the position silently in the dark but he decided that it would be better to acknowledge his
presence and get it over with. He shouts up to the sentry, who fires back at his general position. He begs the
men at the post not to shoot him and explains that he wants to come in. Someone calls down and asks how
many are with him. Andres repeatedly has to assure them that he is alone and that he is not a Fascist. He tells
the soldiers that he has come from Pablo’s band with a message for the general staff. From above, Andres
hears one of the soldiers suggest that they throw a bomb down on him. Andres tells them not to because the
message he carries is important.
In response to their command, Andres stands up and holds his rifle above his head. He is told to come
carefully through the trip wires, but Andres tells them he cannot hold the wires aside because both his hands
are on the rifle over his head. Andres reassures them again that he is not a Fascist, so they let him sling his
rifle on his back and proceed through the wires. The suggestion is again given to throw a bomb down on him.
Andres tells them that he is of no importance, but his message is.
As Andres approaches the post, the man who had suggested throwing a bomb down on him embraces him and
kisses him on both cheeks. Andres shows them the papers he is carrying, which include his safe-conduct
papers and the dispatch from Robert Jordan to Golz. The officer in command of the post asks him questions
Chapter 35 Summary 27
about his background to prove he is the person listed on the safe-conduct pass.
Andres tells the officer that his message is of the greatest importance. The officer tells him he should give up
being a guerrilla fighter and join the regular army of the Republic. There is too much division between those
fighting against the Fascists. Andres patiently listens to him, then tells him that his dispatch is important
because it relates to the attack the next morning. The officer does not trust any of this, so he volunteers to go
with Andres to deliver the message. Andres gives his rifle to the officer, and the two go down the hill in the
Chapter 37 Summary
Robert Jordan, calming down after his rage at Pablo’s betrayal, waits impatiently for time to pass. With his
arms around Maria, he constantly looks at his watch, but the time moves so slowly without a second hand.
The feel of Maria’s hair against his neck causes his throat to swell with love and longing. He does not want to
wake her, but he cannot leave because this might be the last time they are together.
Maria quietly awakens and responds to Robert Jordan’s caresses. She clearly wants to make love, but he
hesitates because he does not want to cause her pain. Maria denies there is pain. Robert Jordan thinks of time
only in the now: there is no past and definitely no future. Expressing his love and gratitude, Robert Jordan
makes love to Maria for what he believes is the last time. Maria also expresses gratitude that she may have
one more time of “la gloria.”
Robert Jordan tells Maria that it is almost time to prepare for the attack. She tells him first they must have
something to eat. She asks him if he is worried. He says that he was for a while, but he is no longer. She asks
if she may help him, but he says that she has helped enough. He thinks of the great mysticism in the sexual
experience he has shared with Maria. He thinks of how little they all know of what there is to know. He
wishes he were going to live a long time to reflect on it, but he believes he will die this day.
Robert Jordan tells Maria that she has taught him much. She has given him a very small beginning in the
education of love and life. He feels that he has lived his entire life among these hills. He can think of no closer
friend that Anselmo. As for Maria, she is not only his wife but his sister and his daughter. She is all that a
woman is.
Maria asks him if they will be together that day. He tells her they will after the start, but she cannot be with
him in the beginning. She offers to take care of his sleeping robe. She shakes it out and rolls it up. Robert
Jordan picks up the two sacks, taking care that nothing should fall out of the slit one. At ten minutes to three
o’clock, they go into the cave.
Chapter 38 Summary
Inside the cave, all the men and women were preparing to leave. Pilar had sewn the slit in the sacks. There is
tension among them; Agustin chides Eladio on the absence of his brother (Andres), who has not returned from
delivering the dispatch. Robert Jordan picks up four high-grade grenades that the guerillas had acquired from
the Republic. It was with this type of grenade that Pablo blew up the post at Otero, Pilar says. Interested,
Robert Jordan asks how dependable they are. Eladio says that they always explode, though there are no
fragments, just flash. Robert Jordan repeats his question: Do they always blow? Eladio says they always have.
Chapter 36 Summary 28
Robert Jordan sees that although he lacks the materials that Pablo stole, he will be able to use the grenades to
detonate the explosives. However, he is not sure he can take out both posts by the bridge. It will have to be
one or the other, but not both. He wonders if there will be a miracle and Golz will decide to call off the raid.
Again, he curses Pablo’s treachery.
Trying to calm himself once again, Robert Jordan tells himself he should have taken Pilar and combed the
hills to find additional men instead of sleeping with Maria. Yet he chides himself; he needs to show some
confidence in himself. Maria thinks he is wonderful, but he thinks very little of himself at this moment. He
must wait until the fight begins before he gets angry.
Pilar asks how the plan seems to him now that they are about to start. Robert Jordan regrets that there are so
few of them, and Pilar agrees. She tells the American not to worry. She tells him to forget the nonsense of her
reading his palm earlier. It was nothing. Robert Jordan checks on Anselmo, who is calm. The old man shows
how steady his hands are, but when he points, his finger shakes. Robert Jordan assures him that his does the
The people in the cave freeze when Pablo comes back into the cave. He tells them that he has five additional
men with horses. Robert Jordan asks him about the exploder and the detonators he stole. Pablo confesses that
he threw them over the cliff into the river, but then he decided he must return. He says he had a moment of
weakness but he is not a coward. Robert Jordan doubts that. Pablo assures him that he is not doing this for
him. He returned because he was lonely. Pilar tells him she did not think he could be the coward he appeared
to be. Pablo asks for a drink and then announces it is time to go.
Chapter 39 Summary
The group climbs the hill in the dark, heavy-laden with explosives. Pilar says that the rest of the explosives
are in the horses’ saddlebags along with camping gear. The horses can be cut loose if need be. Robert Jordan
feels the burden of all the explosives and ammunition he is carrying. Pablo, coming up to him as they climb,
tells him that the five additional men think the mission will be successful simply because they have joined it.
Pablo suggests that Robert Jordan say nothing to disillusion them. Robert Jordan agrees but says now they
must make it successful.
Cynically, Robert Jordan does not believe that Pablo had any serious conversion when he deserted them. He
believes that he is still self-serving. Pablo tells him that the five additional men can take the lower post. They
may even go further than intended. Robert Jordan does not respond to this. He does not think he will be
invited to continue in Pablo’s camp after the bridge has been destroyed. However, Robert Jordan has felt
better since Pablo returned with the five men; he sees a possible break in their string of curses. He feels his
confidence rise a bit within him. In a moment of self-analysis, he sees that his greatest talent is the ability to
ignore the possibilities of bad endings. However, when he must count on others too much, such as now, this
talent is weakened or destroyed. Thus he fears he will not survive this day. He thinks of himself, alone, as
nothing. With another person, he is everything. He congratulates himself in overcoming his previous despair.
For Maria, the best thing he can do is to finish the mission and get out as fast as possible. If he thinks too
much about her at this point, he will waver. He tells himself not to think of her at all.
Maria comes up to him. He tells her not to worry, that Rafael will be with her watching the horses. She says
that she would rather be with him, but he tells her that she will be most useful with the horses. At this point
the five men ride up to the others. Robert Jordan greets them. Pablo introduces him and assumes leadership of
the group while they are present. Pilar recognizes some of them but they keep their distance. Pablo then tells
everyone to keep their mouths shut and he will lead them to the place where they will leave the horses.
Chapter 38 Summary 29
Chapter 40 Summary
As Robert Jordan slept through the night, Andres made slow progress on his mission to deliver the dispatch to
General Golz. The company commander still accompanies him, but once inside the Republican lines, things
move more slowly. He should have had no problem since he had the safe-conduct pass, but people are very
At the battalion headquarters, the battalion commander (Gomez) meets him with enthusiasm. Instead of
sending him on to brigade headquarters, Gomez offers to take him on his motorbike. As they reach the
mountain town where headquarters is located, Gomez commands the sentry at the entrance to let him see the
Lieutenant-Colonel. The sentry says he is asleep and refuses to get him. Gomez tries to make the sentry
understand that Andres has an important dispatch for General Golz concerning the attack the next day, but the
sentry does not seem to care, having never heard of Golz or word of any attack. Gomez pulls out his pistol,
points it at the sentry, and threatens to kill him if he does not retrieve the Lieutenant-Colonel. The sentry tells
them that the Lieutenant-Colonel is with his fiancée, but he goes to get him. Gomez despairs that the army is
either cynical or ignorant.
The Lieutenant-Colonel Miranda enters. His wife had fallen out of love with him but it was impossible for
him to get a divorce, so he joined the army of the Republic. All he cares about is leaving the army with the
same rank with which he entered it. Miranda looks at Andres’s papers and questions him about the conditions
up in the hills. He writes a strongly worded safe-conduct pass for Andres and tells Gomez to take him up to
headquarters on the motorcycle.
Miranda asks Andres if he had seen any movement at the front. Andres says that everything was, as usual,
very quiet. Miranda then recognizes Andres from an encounter three months previously. He asks how
Anselmo is doing, and Andres tells him that the old man is doing fine. After Andres leaves, Miranda
expresses relief that Golz, not himself, must undertake this mission. He looks at the officer on duty and sees
that he is asleep with his head on the desk. He takes the two phones on the desk and pushes them close to the
officer’s head.
In the meantime, Andres, hangs on very tightly on the back of Gomez’s motorcycle. As they climb up the
mountain, their headlight shines on the gray bulk of empty trucks coming down toward them.
Chapter 41 Summary
Above the bridge, Pablo stops and dismounts. He tells Pilar to get the grenade sacks while he hobbles the
horses. Robert Jordan asks Pilar once again if she understands that there is to be no attack until she hears the
bombs. She becomes irritated and says that she understood him the very first time he told her. Robert Jordan
then goes to Pablo to ask if he also understands. Pablo says he knows he is to destroy the post, cut the wire,
fall back to the bridge, and cover the bridge until the bridge is destroyed. Robert Jordan will man the machine
gun until that time. Pablo says once again that there are not enough horses. As Pilar had with him, Robert
Jordan becomes irritated with Pablo for not trusting him to remember. Pablo prepares to go to his point, and
Robert Jordan wonders what else he has planned. As they shake hands good-bye, Robert Jordan is surprised
that Pablo’s hand is not slimy, as he imagined it to be, but strong and steady. Pablo apologizes for stealing the
material. Robert Jordan tells him that at least he has brought what they need.
Robert Jordan goes to say good-bye to Maria. He has an unreal feeling that he has done all this before. As he
bends down to kiss Maria good-bye, his pack shifts and pushes his head forward into Maria’s. He tells her not
to worry about the gunfire. As he leaves, he feels younger than he has since he was a child. He remembers the
first time he left home to go to school. His father had taken him to the train station and was very emotional at
Chapter 40 Summary 30
their parting. Robert Jordan had been embarrassed. The conductor asked him if he minded going away to
school. Robert Jordan did not, but he felt that only at that moment.
Robert Jordan checks on Agustin and Anselmo, who are both ready. The three men go carefully downhill to
the spot Robert Jordan and Anselmo had picked out the day he arrived. Below at the post, they see a light
from the sentry’s brazier. Robert Jordan reminds Agustin to will keep watch on that sentry while he and
Anselmo take care of the other post.
Once again, Robert Jordan feels that all this has happened before, perhaps simply because he has explained it
so often to the others. He finds his spot and lies down on the pine needles where he can see the sentries. He
waits quietly for the approaching daylight.
Chapter 42 Summary
Andres, still riding on the back of Gomez’s motorcycle, is making rapid progress toward Golz’s
headquarters but is delayed by a traffic accident. The safe-conduct pass does little to get them through
quickly, but eventually they make their way past the wreck and on toward headquarters.
The two men stop in front of an official-looking building and ask where General Golz’s headquarters are
located. The sentry resists giving any information, but Gomez insists. The sentry calls the corporal of the
guard, and at that moment a large staff car arrives, out of which emerges a large old man dressed in the style
of the French army. Gomez recognizes him as Andre Marty, one of France’s great military advisers. He is not
aware, however, how much Marty has become embittered in war.
Gomez approaches Marty with his mission of delivering a dispatch to General Golz. Marty requests to see the
dispatch, and Andres gives it to him. Marty looks at it, places it in his pocket, and orders the arrest of Gomez
and Andres. Gomez is outraged. The sentry tells Gomez that Marty is crazy and that none of this would have
happened if he had not approached Marty but let him get the corporal of the guard. Andres and Gomez are
brought into a room where Marty has placed himself behind a long table. To Andres, this is just one more
thing that has kept him from completing his mission swiftly. Gomez, however, is furious. Andres tells him of
Robert Jordan and his role in the coming attack. Marty orders them to be taken away, thinking to take the
dispatch to Golz himself. Andres thinks how stupid Marty is, but he is doubtful if the outcome of his mission
would have been any different if he had made it through to Golz.
While they are being held, Robert Jordan’s friend Karkov arrives. Karkov confronts Marty, who is
intimidated by the Russian. Karkov orders the dispatch returned to Andres so the mission can continue.
Andres and Gomez are released and resume their motorcycle journey to Golz’s headquarters. On arriving,
they deliver the dispatch and wait for an answer. Duval, Golz’s second in command, relays the message. He
considers calling off the attack himself but does not have the authority to do so. Golz realizes that it is too late
to call off the attack and that the mission will end in failure. He hears the planes leaving to bomb the location.
Chapter 43 Summary
As Robert Jordan waits above the bridge, he wonders if Andres made it through to Golz with the dispatch. He
chides himself for never thinking he will win, but in his heart he knows this operation will ultimately fail in its
larger purpose. Soon he hears the sound of bombs, which is the signal to begin the destruction of the bridge.
He shoots one sentry and Anselmo shoots the other.
Climbing into the framework under the bridge, Robert Jordan carefully places the explosives, cursing Pablo
for throwing away the detonator. The grenades he is forced to use to set off the dynamite will mean he cannot
Chapter 41 Summary 31
detonate them from as great a distance as he wants. Pilar leads her group down to Robert Jordan. Eladio is not
with them (he was shot in the head), and Fernando has been fatally shot in the groin. Fernando tells them to
leave him behind with a rifle. He knows he is dying, but he will provide one last service for the Republic.
Robert Jordan tells Anselmo to blow up the bridge if the tanks come even if Robert Jordan is still beneath it.
Anselmo feels no fear now, but he regrets having to kill the sentries. Pilar curses Robert Jordan for taking so
much time setting the explosives, but Anselmo calms her. When he sees the trucks coming down the road, he
sets off the explosives and the bridge collapses in the middles. A large chunk of metal hits Anselmo, and the
old man dies.
Joining Pilar, Robert Jordan rages against Pablo for throwing away the detonator. If he still had it, Anselmo
would not have been too close to the explosion and died. Pilar eventually calms him and they join the others.
Pablo comes up alone with the horses, chased by a tank. The others fire briefly on the tank to distract it, and
Pablo gets away. It is suspected that he killed his extra men to get their horses, and he does not deny it. Robert
Jordan mounts the grey horse of the soldier he killed the preceding day. As they ride up the mountains, the
Fascists follow and shoot Robert Jordan’s horse. The horse falls on Robert Jordan and breaks his leg. It is
severe enough that Robert Jordan knows he cannot follow the others. Bidding Maria good-bye, he tells her he
cannot go with her to Madrid but that he will always be with her. They leave and Robert Jordan waits for the
Fascists to arrive. When they do, he sees they are led by Lieutenant Berrendo, who ordered the decapitation of
El Sordo and his men. Robert Jordan waits for them to get close enough that he can fire on them; he feels his
heart beating against the floor of the forest.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Themes
The elderly peasant Anselmo most fully represents the Loyalist ideals in the novel. Hemingway suggests that
his lack of education and his compassionate nature allow him to believe in the cause and to fight for it to the
end of his life. Through his idealism, he supplies the human element to the struggle that Jordan and Pablo so
often ignore.
Pablo has largely forgotten the ideals of the cause to which he had originally devoted his life. He has seen too
much of the reality of war and so participates now more out of self-interest than out of patriotism. As a result,
he can take pleasure in his brutal murder of the Fascists. And when he considers the plan to blow up the
bridge too dangerous, he flees with the explosives. Yet he appears to retain some of the ideals to which he
once dedicated himself. When Pilar asks him why he did not kill Jordan when he had the opportunity, Pablo
replies that Jordan is “a good boy,” since his motives are noble. He also notes the camaraderie that results
from devotion to the cause when, as he describes his desertion, he notes, “having done such a thing, there is a
loneliness that cannot be borne.”
Jordan struggles to retain his sense of idealism throughout the novel. Initially, he volunteers to serve with the
Loyalists because of his liberal attitudes toward politics and his deep love of the Spanish people. However, he
quickly gets a taste of the reality of war when he sees atrocities committed on both sides. He notes that his
education on the true politics of war came as he listened to the cynical attitude of the Russian officers at
Gaylord’s in Madrid as they discussed their intentions to pervert the Loyalists’ devotion to their cause for
their own ends. This attitude is reflected in the opening chapter as Jordan discusses the mission with Golz,
who focuses only on the military aspect of the plan.
Jordan’s courage emerges in the face of his growing disillusionment. James Nagel, in his article on
Hemingway for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, notes that Jordan “has a realistic skepticism about what
Chapter 43 Summary 32
the war will actually accomplish, but he dedicates himself fully to the cause nonetheless.” Even though he
suspects the mission will fail, he carefully plans and executes it, accepting the fact that failure most likely will
result in death. His relationship with Maria helps provide him with the strength to continue as he allows
himself to envision a future with her. His final act of courage appears at the end of the novel, as he faces
imminent death at the hands of the Fascists. His fear initially prompts him to consider suicide. However, his
strength of character returns when he recognizes that he can help ensure the safety of the rest of the group by
staying alive to delay the advance of the Fascists.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Style
Point of View
The novel presents the narrative through an omniscient point of view that continually shifts back and forth
between the characters. In this way, Hemingway can effectively chronicle the effect of the war on the men and
women involved. The narrator shifts from Anselmo’s struggles in the snow during his watch to Pilar’s story
about Pablo’s execution of Fascists and El Sordo’s lonely death to help readers more clearly visualize their
In “Ringing the Changes: Hemingway’s ‘Bell’ Tolls Fifty,” Michael Reynolds writes, “Without drawing
undue attention to his artistry, Hemingway has written a collection of short stories embedded in a framing
novel.” Against the backdrop of the group’s attempt to blow up the bridge, each character tells his or her own
story: Maria tells of her parents’ murder and her rape; Jordan shares what he learned about the true politics of
war at Gaylord’s in Madrid. Pilar provides the most compelling and comprehensive stories of Finito’s fears
in the bullfighting ring and of Pablo and his men as they beat the Fascists to death in a drunken rage.
Hemingway employs flashbacks and flashforwards to enhance thematic focus. Pilar’s stories of struggle and
heroism make their mission all the more poignant and place it in an historical context. Jordan’s flashbacks to
a time when his ideals were not tempered by the reality of war highlight his growing sense of disillusionment.
His dreams of a future with Maria in Madrid add a bittersweet touch to his present predicament and his final
death scene.
One of Hemingway’s most distinct and celebrated characteristics is his deliberate writing style. Trained as a
newspaper reporter, Hemingway used a journalistic style in his fiction, honed down to economical, abrupt
descriptions of characters and events. His goal was to ensure that his words accurately described reality. The
best example of his economical style comes at the end of the novel, as Jordan faces death. Hemingway’s
spare, direct description of Jordan’s final moments as he considers suicide and then determines to survive
long enough to help the group escape reflects Jordan’s stoicism and his acceptance of the inevitable.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Historical Context
The Spanish Civil War
Civil war broke out in Spain in 1936, but the underlying causes can be traced back several years prior to that
date. In the 1930s Spain experienced continuous political upheavals. In 1931, after years of civil conflict in
the country, King Alfonso XIII voluntarily placed himself in exile, and on April 13 of that year, a new
republic emerged. The Leftist government, however, faced similar civil unrest, and by 1933, the conservatives
regained control. By 1936 the people voted the leftists back in. After the assassination of Jose Calvas Otelo,
an influential Monarchist, the army led a revolt against the government and sponsored the return of General
Francisco Franco, who had been exiled because of his politics.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Themes 33
As a result, civil war broke out across the country between the Loyalist-leftists and the Monarchist-rightists.
Russia backed the leftists while Germany and Italy supported the rightists. The war continued until 1939 with
each side committing atrocities: the leftists slaughtered religious and political figures while the rightists
bombed civilian targets. At the beginning of 1936, the Loyalists were suffering from an effective blockade as
Franco’s troops gained control. On March 28, the war ended as the rightists took the city of Madrid.
Hemingway, siding with the Loyalists, first lent his support to their cause by raising money for ambulances
and medical supplies. In 1937, he ran the Ambulances Committee of the American Friends of Spanish
Democracy. During the war, he often returned to Spain as a journalist, penning articles for the North
American Newspaper Alliance and Esquire. When the Fascist army won control of Spain in 1939,
Hemingway had just started writing For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The Lost Generation
This term became associated with a group of American writers in the 1920s who felt a growing sense of
disillusionment after World War I. As a result, many left America for Europe. T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound
initially relocated to London, while F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway traveled to Paris, which appeared to
offer them a much freer society than America or England did. During this period, Paris became a mecca for
these expatriates, who congregated in literary salons, restaurants, and bars to discuss their work in the context
of the new age. One such salon was dominated by Gertrude Stein who at one gathering insisted “you are all a
lost generation,” a quote immortalized by Hemingway in the preface to The Sun Also Rises. That novel, like
For Whom the Bell Tolls and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, presents a penetrating portrait of this Lost
The characters in works by these authors reflected the authors’ growing sense of disillusionment along with
the new ideas in psychology, anthropology, and philosophy that had become popular in the early part of the
century. Freudianism, for example, which had caused a loosening of sexual morality during the Jazz Age,
began to be studied by these writers as they explored the psyches of their characters and recorded their often
subjective points of view of themselves and their world. Hemingway’s men and women faced a meaningless
world with courage and dignity, exhibiting “grace under pressure,” while Fitzgerald’s sought the redemptive
power of love in a world driven by materialism.
This age of confusion, redefinition, and experimentation produced one of the most fruitful periods in
American letters. These writers helped create a new form of literature, later called modernism, which
repudiated traditional literary conventions. Prior to the twentieth century, writers structured their works to
reflect their belief in the stability of character and the intelligibility of experience. Traditionally, novels and
stories ended with a clear sense of closure, as conflicts were resolved and characters gained knowledge about
themselves and their world. The authors of the Lost Generation challenged these assumptions as they
expanded the genre’s traditional form to accommodate their characters’ questions about the individual’s
place in the world.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Critical Overview
When For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in 1940, Hemingway’s reputation as one of America’s most
important writers was already well established. The new novel received overwhelmingly positive reviews
from critics and the public alike, with many insisting that it was Hemingway’s best novel to date. It quickly
became a bestseller, as the first printing’s 210,000 copies immediately sold out. In less than six months, that
figure jumped to over 491,000. Michael Reynolds, in his assessment of the novel for the Virginia Quarterly
Review, notes that a reviewer in the New York Times insisted that it was “the best book Ernest Hemingway
has written, the fullest, the deepest, the truest. It will be one of the major novels in American literature.”
Reynolds adds that Dorothy Parker claimed that it was “beyond all comparison, Ernest Hemingway’s finest
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Historical Context 34
book,” and an article in the Nation proclaimed that it set “a new standard for Hemingway in characterization,
dialogue, suspense and compassion.”
Spanish Loyalists fighting in the Spanish Civil War
These and other critics praised Hemingway’s thematic focus on idealism and responsibility, especially as a
reflection of the mood of the times, as the world braced for the devastation of the impending world war.
Reynolds writes, though, that the novel “transcends the historical context that bore it, becoming a parable
rather than a paradigm.”
Later, however, some critics found fault with the novel’s politics. Hemingway’s inclusion of Loyalist as well
as Fascist atrocities drew criticism from liberal sympathizers. Other critics have complained about the
idealized relationship between Jordan and Maria. Leslie A. Fiedler, for example, in his Love and Death in the
American Novel, finds fault in all of Hemingway’s characterizations of love. He comments that if, in For
Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway “has written the most absurd love scene in the history of the American
novel, this is not because he lost momentarily his skill and authority.” Fiedler suggests that the love affair
between Jordan and Maria “illuminates the whole erotic content of his fiction.”
While the novel has never regained the critical status it enjoyed when it was first published, the novel is
currently regarded, as James Nagel notes in his article on Hemingway for Dictionary of Literary Biography,
as “nearly perfect.” Philip Young in American Writers comments, “none of his books had evoked more
richly the life of the senses, had shown a surer sense of plotting, or provided more fully living secondary
characters, or livelier dialogue.” Reynolds concludes his review with the following assessment: “And thus,
softly, across time, For Whom the Bell Tolls continues in muted tones to toll for us.”
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Character Analysis
Character Overview
Character Overview
The characterization in For Whom the Bell Tolls differs from that of Hemingway’s shorter novels in that we
get a more detailed insight into a greater number of characters. Nonetheless, as with the shorter pieces, it is the
“code hero” at the center of the tale whom we come to know most intimately.
Robert Jordan is a Spanish teacher who has come to Spain during the civil war to help fight for the Republican
cause. Like Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms, he is an outsider fighting in a foreign war, but, unlike
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Critical Overview 35
Frederic, Jordan believes deeply in his cause, which he fights for because of his persona and political beliefs
rather than for the chance of adventure. He is willing to repeatedly risk his life, welcoming the dangerous
mission entrusted to him. This idealism and belief are, however, brought into question by the events which
unfold in the novel.
Jordan is faced with two problems as he prepares for his mission—the feelings he develops towards Maria
which threaten to distract him from the task at hand, and the number of obstacles to carrying out his task. He
has a shortage of men and of time, the unseasonal weather creates difficulties, and Pablo continually opposes
him to the point of stealing some of his explosives and equipment. Despite this, the task is carried out. Yet
Robert Jordan does not feel the sense of victory he has felt after previous missions. His experiences have left
him disillusioned and no longer sure of his cause.
This change does not result in an abandonment of his personal values. Like all of Hemingway’s code heroes,
Jordan is steadfast in the face of adversity. He carries out the bridge demolition as promised, despite his
awareness that the battle is unlikely to be successful. He ensures that those who have helped him (and have
survived) are able to move to relative safety and decides to face death rather than place his comrades at
greater risk by slowing them down. When confronted with the certainty of death on top of great physical pain,
he holds on to his composure, determined to go down fighting rather than to end it swiftly by suicide. He has
been affected by his father’s suicide and refuses to take this means of escape.
Hemingway drew on his own experiences and attitudes in shaping Robert Jordan. Hemingway himself was in
Spain for the civil war, which he covered as a newspaper reporter. He had a deep interest in Spain, which
drew him there for repeated visits. Jordan’s experiences also mirror Hemingway’s experiences in the first
world war and other life events, including parallels between Hemingway’s and Jordan’s relationships with
their respective fathers.
Jordan’s love interest, know only as Maria, bears similarities to Catherine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms.
Her apparent submissiveness and desperate need to know Jordan belie an inner strength necessary to have
survived her experiences as a prisoner of the fascists and the memories these have left her.
Maria plays an important role in the character changes and development we see in Jordan—as his love for her
grows, he sees the harshness of an apparently unwinnable war. The changes in Maria herself are far more
subtle. While she remains apparently subservient in the end of the novel, she has learned to trust men and to
accept love. Whether she will continue to grow despite the loss of her Roberto is not seen.
The other female character in the novel, the Gypsy Pilar, is apparently far stronger than Maria. Pilar is
effectively the leader of the guerilla group, although Pablo lays claim to that title in the beginning of the
novel. It is Pilar who is responsible for a great deal of the organization of the group’s activities. She is rough
speaking and rough in her appearance, using the same language as the men and always able to dominate any
argument with her quick tongue. She is also fervently committed to the Republican cause right to the end.
At the same time, Pilar exhibits certain feminine ideals. She is compassionate when necessary—it is at her
command that the men have rescued Maria, and it is because of Pilar that she has been left alone by them. She
has been Maria’s counselor, confidant and friend. Pilar also works with Maria to perform “womanly” duties
such as cooking and cleaning. Despite her ugly physical appearance, Pilar has had no trouble finding lovers.
From time to time a less certain Pilar is seen. She occasionally exhibits fear—being especially scared of the
planes which fly overhead. At other times she switches quickly from anger to good temper. When Pablo
deserts, she is the first to forgive him and to believe in his good intentions.
Character Overview 36
Pablo himself is a complex character. Nominally the leader of the guerillas, he is no longer effective in this
role. When they meet, Robert Jordan quickly senses his fear and disillusionment and knows that this will
jeopardize the mission. It is evident that Pablo has been as passionate about the cause as Jordan is now, but he
is no longer able to sustain this passion. It appears he has been worn down by the time and depth of his fight
rather than from any single experience, although he does express regret about his victims during one drinking
session. He is still willing to kill not just the enemy but even fellow republicans in order to increase his own
chances of survival.
Of the many minor characters in the book, the old man Anselmo is perhaps the most significant. He is a
staunch supporter of the cause, willing to do his share of the work and more, and acceptant that this may lead
to his death. He is also a contradictory character—whilst willing to serve and to fight, he hates killing and
seeing others killed. When he is asked to kill the bridge sentry, he does so but comes away with tears
streaming down his face.
It is the complexity of the characters, both major and supporting, which allows For Whom the Bell Tolls to
explore the many aspects of the Spanish Civil war and war in general.
Robert Jordan
Before the Spanish Civil War Robert Jordan had been a college Spanish instructor with a deep love of Spain
and its people. His liberal political leanings prompted him to join the Loyalists in their fight against the
Fascists. Initially, he idealized the Loyalist cause and the character of its devotees, but as the novel begins,
with Jordan embroiled in the realities of war, he experiences a profound disillusionment. He notes that his
devotion to the cause had been almost like a religious experience, likening it to “the feeling you expected to
have but did not have when you made your first communion.” That “purity of feeling,” however, soon
dissipated. He has observed atrocities on both sides of the conflict and has been chided for his naivete and
“slight political development.” At Gaylord’s Hotel in Madrid, where he heard the callousness of the Russian
officers, he concluded that they could “corrupt very easily” but then wondered “was it corruption or was it
merely that you lost the naivete that you started with?”
He has come to the realization that most of the people of Spain have, like him, become disillusioned about
their noble cause and so are not as willing to sacrifice themselves to it. As a result, he no longer defines
himself as a communist; now he insists instead that he is an “anti-fascist,” not a firm supporter of a cause but
at least a dissenter to a movement he finds abhorrent.
His sense of duty compels him to complete the task he has taken on—the blowing up of a bridge in Fascist
territory in an effort to aid the Loyalists’ advance—even when he understands the probability of failure and
the danger to himself and others. His courage, evident throughout the novel as he carries out his perilous
mission, faces its greatest test after the mission fails to impede the Fascist movements and he suffers a severe
injury when his horse stumbles. Understanding that his injuries will slow the others’ escape, he convinces
them to go on ahead to safety without him. He quickly overcomes his desire to kill himself and determines to
face the oncoming Fascist forces in a last effort to help his comrades escape.
Jordan meets the young and beautiful Maria at Pablo’s hideout. She has been brutalized by the Fascists after
they murdered her father, a Loyalist mayor. Fascist sympathizers shaved her head as punishment for her
association with the enemy, and, as a result, she is tagged with the nickname “Rabbit,” which also suggests
her timid demeanor. She gains strength, however, through her intense and short-lived love affair with Jordan.
Robert Jordan 37
Several critics, including Leslie Fiedler, have noted that Maria, like many of Hemingway’s women, lacks
development. She appears in the novel as an idealized image of a devoted woman who enjoys extreme sexual
pleasure in her relationship with the protagonist. She seems to exist in the novel as a tool to help reveal
Jordan’s character and to provide him with a sense of meaning. By the end of the novel, he must decide
between his love for her and his duty to his compatriots.
Maria’s immediate sexual attraction to Jordan seems unlikely given the sexual abuse she has repeatedly
experienced at the hands of the Fascists. Yet her romantic insistence on staying with the injured Jordan at the
end of the novel inspires readers’ sympathy.
Pablo serves as a foil to Jordan. He is the leader of the central guerrilla band and Pilar’s husband. Prior to
Jordan’s appearance, he had earned the group’s fearful respect. Yet, when Jordan challenges his authority
and outlines the dangerous plan to blow up the bridge, Pablo’s cowardice and self-absorption emerge. He
tries to cover his fear by insisting that the mission is too dangerous, claiming that the lives of his men would
be put at risk and their headquarters would most likely be discovered, since it is close to the bridge. His men,
however, determine that they will follow Jordan’s plan of action in an effort to ensure a Loyalist victory.
Pablo’s vicious battle with Jordan for supremacy over the group, coupled with the fear that he will endanger
the mission, prompts the band to consider killing him, but Pablo escapes with the explosives before they can
act. Pablo’s return to the group the next morning appears to be generated by his feelings of remorse over his
actions; yet his primary motive may be his jealously over Maria’s love for Jordan. When he returns, he insists
that he now wholeheartedly supports the mission.
Hemingway suggests that, like Jordan, Pablo has lost his idealism by witnessing the brutalities of war on both
sides. His acknowledgment of these atrocities has weakened his resolve to fight for the cause and has made
him fearful for his own safety. Yet, though Jordan also at some points in the story becomes afraid for his life,
he eventually exhibits the strength of character necessary to help ensure the safety of the others in the group.
Pablo too often gives in to fears for his own safety and to jealousy over Jordan’s power and his relationship
with Maria.
Yet his character is contradictory. When Pilar asks him why he did not kill Jordan when he had the
opportunity, Pablo replies that Jordan is “a good boy.” Pablo appears to redeem himself at the end of the
novel when he admits that he returned to the camp because, as he describes his desertion, “having done such a
thing, there is a loneliness that cannot be borne.” Ironically, Jordan must depend on Pablo for the group’s
survival. After Jordan is severely wounded, Pablo leads the rest of them to safety.
Pilar is married to Pablo, the leader of the central guerrilla band. Unlike many of Hemingway’s other women,
Pilar is a complex, strong woman who does not allow her husband to dominate her. When Pablo’s actions
threaten to subvert their mission, Pilar promptly takes over as leader of the guerrillas. Hemingway suggests
that Jordan could not have carried out his mission without her. She comes to represent in the novel the ideals
and dedication of the Spanish Loyalists.
She also helps engineer Jordan and Maria’s relationship, giving her as a gift to him. Pilar tells Maria that she
supports and encourages her union with Jordan but admits that their relationship will make her jealous. Pilar
insists that she is “no tortillera (lesbian) but a woman made for men”: “I do not make perversions,” she
claims, yet she refuses to explain her jealousy.
Maria 38
Michael Reynolds, in his article “Ringing the Changes: Hemingway’s ‘Bell’ Tolls Fifty,” writes that this
scene, more than any other, reveals her complexity. Hemingway, he notes, “who would become increasingly
fascinated with such triangles, realized the androgynous side of men and women earlier than most have given
him credit.” Pilar has insisted elsewhere, “I would have made a good man, but I am all woman and ugly. Yet
many men have loved me and I have loved many men.” However, as Reynolds notes, Hemingway has
characterized her as androgynous, juxtaposing her insistence of her attraction to men with her tenderly holding
Maria at the end of the novel, as the band leaves Jordan behind, waiting to die.
Her strength of character also emerges in her supernatural powers. When she reads Jordan’s palm, she
foresees his death, yet she stays devoted to the mission even at the risk of her own life. Her powers of
perception allow her to recognize the depths of Jordan’s and Maria’s suffering, which prompts her to help
them come together.
Pilar serves as the group’s storyteller, spinning her stories as appropriate thematic backdrops to the action. As
the group prepares for their mission, she tells the story of Finito, a bullfighter overcome by fear in the
bullring, and of Pablo and his men murdering Fascist sympathizers by throwing them over a cliff.
Other Characters
Anselmo is an elderly member of Pablo’s band. Anselmo lacks education but reveals a moral and
compassionate nature. He supplies the human element to the struggle that Jordan and Pablo so often ignore, as
he embodies the Loyalist ideals to which the two men had originally devoted their lives. Each time he
witnesses or participates in a killing, the event profoundly troubles him. He is killed as he helps Jordan blow
up the bridge.
General Golz
General Golz is one of the Russians who have been sent to help the Loyalist army. He oversees the upcoming
planned attack against the Fascists.
El Sordo
El Sordo is the leader of a neighboring guerrilla band. Jordan asks him and his men to join Pablo’s band to
help blow up the bridge.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Essays and Criticism
A Linguistic Analysis of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell
Many critics have pointed out that Hemingway’s language in For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of the
weaknesses of the book. His language was intended to be the intimate expression of the intellectual hero
Jordan and also to present the local idiom of the Spanish fighters. Some argue that the meditations of Jordan
are turgid and the “Platonic language composed of the Spanish idiom, the Bible, and the Elizabethans . . . is . .
. Weighed down with overmuch local color.”(1) Hemingway attempts, through language, to capture the spirit
of a nation and, despite any weaknesses in his style, the contrast between Jordan’s inner thoughts, when he
reflects in his native English, and the formal archaic language of the guerillas, which represents a contrast in
Pilar 39
There is also, however, the contrast between the archaic language in the conversations between Jordan and
Maria, Anselmo and Fernando, and the vulgarity of Pilar and Agustin. The relationship between Jordan and
Maria is one of love; that between Jordan and Anselmo one of mutual respect and a basic dislike for killing;
and Fernando represents the dignified Spaniard who still reveres pride, manners and honor. The exchanges
between these four in the archaic dialogue suggest:
another time when life was simpler, personalized by “thee” and “thou,” a time when human
dignity seemed assured.(2)
The present time is represented in the vulgar speech of Pilar and Agustin, reminding that these are harsh days.
Jordan speaks Spanish fluently, although he continues to think in his native tongue. Thus, a division is drawn
between his sharing a language and a cause with the guerillas and his individuality and private mind, in which
he expresses his deviations from the Spanish culture and values and affirms his Americanism. In Jordans
saying and thinking, a contrast of tongues and a double vision is created.(3) The dichotomy also represents the
expression of diverging cultures. Often, his thoughts focus on the language, cultural, and psychological
differences between himself and the guerillas.
While Pilar’s language is, in general, blunt and vulgar, she is capable, when relating her history, of speaking
eloquently and with great beauty of expression. Thus, she tells of the deaths of the fascists in a village taken
over by the guerillas and of her past love affairs. Yet when she returns to the present, she asserts her
leadership by using strong, aggressive language, matching the men in their obscenities.
The fact that Jordan is linked to both cultures is expressed when, on meeting the deaf El Sordo, the latter
speaks to him in pidgin Spanish, assuming that, being of a different race, he will not understand Spanish
fluently spoken. But as Jordan reveals his knowledge of the language and at the same time, more importantly,
his sympathy with the cause of the guerillas, El Sordo begins to speak to him in fluent Spanish. Thus he is
accepted into the culture of the guerilla leader, despite his foreign status.
Agustin, the most obscene of the guerillas in his language, is also the most assertive of his manhood. He, more
than the other guerillas, is eager for action, not solely for the principles of the republicans but for action’s
sake: Early in the novel Hemingway makes the connection between speech and masculinity or bravery when
he permits Agustino to speak in the same breath of language and action in battle:
It is a way of speaking I have. Maybe it is ugly. Who knows? Each one speaks according to
his manner. (Which may be interpreted as his relative manhood.) Listen to me. The bridge is
nothing to me. As well the bridge as another thing. Also I have boredom in these mountains.
That we should go if it is needed.(4)
The words that are most often repeated throughout the book are ones which convey important attitudes,
feelings and values. To lay emphasis upon them, Hemingway usually leaves them in the Spanish. Jordan
refers to Maria as his “guapa,” a term of endearment expressing his love and reminding of the softer side of
human nature. In making reference to courage—or the lack of it—the men refer to “les cojones,” indicating
guts and bravery in a man. The “cobarde” or coward is constantly referred to, representing the man who has
not the courage to fight for his country and who is the less masculine for it.
In the Catholic Lieutenant Berrendo, there is a conflict between his use of foul language and his religious
beliefs. He uses obscenities, as do the other men, to bolster his masculinity and even to give him courage
through the use of assertive language. But he and his sniper:
A Linguistic Analysis of Hemingway’s For Whom the BellTolls 40
were Carlists from Navarra and while both of them cursed and blasphemed when they were
angry they regarded it as a sin which they regularly confessed. . . . They did not want to have
that sort of talk on their consciences on a day in which they might die. Talking thus will not
bring luck, the sniper thought. Speaking thus of the Virgin is bad luck.(5)
Maria often refers to the cultural differences between herself and Jordan, thinking herself inferior because of
them. “When thou seest a beautiful woman of the same culture as thee?” she asks, “Wilt thou not be ashamed
of me?” She vows to study American manners should she ever travel with him to his home country. And
often, Jordan himself thinks of the Spanish as barbarous, thinking of how Maria was raped, and how
“treacherous swine” have always ruled the country, and even when power was turned over to the people,
“then be darned careful what they turn into when they have power.”
Yet ever so, he has to remember also that the Spanish are among the finest people of the world, and it is for
the good ones that he is fighting, men like Anselmo and Fernando. Finally, he decides, one is not able to
understand the Spanish. Even among the guerilla band there are those he distrusts, those he thinks worthless
(the gypsy), and those he values and respects. All, despite their common nationality, are from different
cultural backgrounds. Anselmo represents a more stable past in which dignity was valued, while the gypsy
represents a culture that lacks loyalty to the dominant culture and does not share its values. He fights only for
the sake of fighting and is irresponsible when given duties to perform.
Whatever the weakness of For Whom the Bell Tolls in terms of language, Hemingway manages to use shifts
in speech and language patterns to convey cultural shifts.
1. Nemi D’Agostino, “The Later Hemingway,” in Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by
Robert P. Weeks (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1962) p.156.
2. Arthur Waldhorn, A Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway (New York: Farrar, Straus & Garoux, 1972)
3. Sheldon Norman Grebstein, Hemingway’s Craft (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973) p.
4. Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls (New York: Charles Scribener’s Sons, 1940) p. 45-6.
5. Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, p.318.
Baker, Carlos. Hemingway and His Critics. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961.
Grebstein, Sheldon Norman. Hemingway’s Craft. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Gurko, Leo. Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism. New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell, 1968.
Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Charles Scribener’s Sons, 1940.
Rovit, Earl. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1963.
Weeks, Robert P., ed. Hemingway: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:
Prentice-Hall, 1962.
A Linguistic Analysis of Hemingway’s For Whom the BellTolls 41
Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader’s Guide to Ernest Hemingway. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Gircux, 1972.
An Analysis of Robert Jordan and Frederick Henry
In the characters of Robert Jordan and Frederick Henry, novelist Ernest Hemingway has given us examples of
the prototypical existential rebel. These figures are seen as a breed apart, men who have rejected value
systems imposed upon them from the outside in favor of action determined from within themselves. In both A
Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, “those who adhere to the ideal of self-fullfillment are in the
minority, and their very existence becomes intolerable to the majority who follow another course.”(1) This
concept is given eloquent expression by Frederick Henry when he concludes, “If people bring so much
courage to this world, the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them.” This conflict, then,
is basically the “antithesis between the self and the anti-self”(2) and finds its expression both in external
events and within the minds of the characters.
In both Jordan and Henry we find men who have left the common path. Jordan leaves his intellectual
seclusion to deliberately fight “for all the poor of the world,” while in A Farewell To Arms, “Frederick Henry
at first participated in a common adventure, war, but then by deserting he struck out on his own.”(3) In both
cases, we find the Hemingway hero distinguishes himself from the commonality, and “in his struggle for a
decent life . . . he must conquer old habits and conventions, he must keep free from gilded chains, and to
preserve his inner freedom he must assert life by action.”(4) As Henry says after the retreat from Caporetto,
“I had seen nothing sacred and the things that were glorious had no glory.” In the case of Jordan, the
protagonist finds a cause within himself to which he gives primary importance. As he says to himself,
“neither you or this old man is anything, you are instruments to do your duty . . . you have only one thing to
do and you must do it.” We see that the price is indeed high but that the debt is to one’s self.
This departure from the common path has its internal effects on both Jordan and Henry. Jordan forces himself
to kill, although “he never kills with pleasure but always with reluctance.”(5) He is, as one critic has said, “a
true man of action yet wrestling with his own un-communistic honest to God soul.”(6) Another conflict
within Jordan’s psyche is that “he is in love with Maria, even though there isn’t supposed to be any such
thing as love in a purely materialistic conception of society.”(7)
In Frederick Henry we find the character purposely rejecting his conflicting thoughts as he reaches the
conclusion, “I was not made to think, I was made to eat, My God yes, eat and drink and sleep with
Catherine.” Although there is a notable reversal in Henry's status—he deserts the Italian Army—we find that
this attitude of preferring action to thought was present in Henry from the beginning of the work. Witness his
professed reason for first joining the Italian Army, “I was in Italy and I spoke Italian,” or his avoidance of
becoming involved in Passini and Manera’s debates about the war. In both instances we see mental reflection
taking a back seat to action. Once Henry has determined his course, he rarely reflects upon his choice. In both
characters we find an existential outlook similar to that of Soren Kierkegaard’s “narrow pass” in his
philosophical volume The Fear and the Trembling. One sets himself a task or test, and no matter what the
consequences of passing through that test, he must proceed according to this resolution.
For both Henry and Jordan the results are tragic, for the forces which these rebel-heroes confront are in fact
too numerous to overcome. For Jordan, fighting with the Loyalist forces against the Fascists, there is historical
evidence to justify this conclusion, for the Fascists still controlled Spain. In Henry’s case the situation is a bit
more complex, however. We find that his opposition to those men who have “the devotion to stern justice of
men dealing in death without being in danger of it” contributes to his final isolation.
In Jordan, and in Henry as well, we find the attitude “that it is better to die on your feet than live on your
knees.” In this Jordan shows a certain similarity to the guerilla leader El Sordo for whom “dying was nothing
An Analysis of Robert Jordan and Frederick Henry 42
and he had no picture of it, nor fear of it in his mind,” for in his most precarious position just before his death,
we find the character reflecting upon the natural phenomena around him rather than fearing for his life. He has
made a conscious choice in favor of what he is from moment to moment, rather than what he is to become.
In Henry’s case we find this attitude taking the form of a retreat. But Henry is not attempting to escape
danger—in fact his situation becomes more threatening after his desertion—but merely expressing a preference
for being ever becoming: all he wishes to do is to see Catherine. The value of life from moment to moment is
more important to him than his future fate, and in this attitude we see the existential distinction, the preference
for existence over essence. As Rinaldi says, “I don’t want to become your friend, baby, I am your friend,”
and we find at this point Henry’s friend expressing exactly the concept by which Frederick will determine his
future actions. Later, when Henry first sees his son, he admits he has “no sense of fatherhood,” no thought for
the future, but rather an involvement in his current attachment to his wife. The brave in Hemingway’s works
die not once but “perhaps, two thousand times,” for they are involved in a constant struggle between what
they want for themselves and what society expects of them.
In conclusion, we see that in A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway has presented us
with characters who attempt to assert their lives through action rather than by reflecting on the possible.
Although this rebellion takes radically different, if not opposite, forms of expression in the two novels, the
attitude in both of the protagonists is that it is more important to be true to one’s own way of life than to try to
follow any externally determined course. The results, while externally tragic, are in fact difficult to assess in
this philosophical context, for only the characters themselves can truly know if they have succeeded. In
typical existential fashion they refrain from any such general evaluation, for they have already made the
choice from which there is no turning back.
1. Joseph DeFalco, The Hero in Hemingway’s Short Stories (Pittsburgh, 1963) p. 195.
2. Carlos Baker, Hemingway and His Critics (New York, 1961) p. 131.
3. Baker, Hemingway and His Critics, p. 166.
4. Baker, Hemingway and His Critics, p. 168.
5. Baker, Hemingway and His Critics, p. 319.
6. Baker, Hemingway and His Critics, p. 317.
7. Carlos Baker, Hemingway (Princeton, 1956) p. 144.
Atkins, John. The Art of Ernest Hemingway. London: Peter Nevill, 1952.
Baker, Carlos. Hemingway. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1956.
———. Hemingway and His Critics. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961.
DeFalco, Joseph. The Hero in Hemingway’s Short Stories. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963.
An Analysis of Robert Jordan and Frederick Henry 43
Robert Jordan as a Hemingway “Code Hero”
Several of Hemingway’s protagonists share qualities that define them as a specific type of character that has
come to be known as Hemingway’s “code hero.” The world in which Hemingway’s code heroes find
themselves helps to define them. Often the setting is war or some other dangerous arena, like the plains of
Africa or a boxing ring, where the hero faces the ultimate test of courage. The protagonist must face fear
along with a growing sense of despair over the meaninglessness of experience. Fear results not only from
physical danger and impending death but also from the gradual disintegration of the self in a world of
“nothingness,” a world stripped of consoling ideals. He reveals his courage as he stoically faces his inevitable
defeat and accepts it with dignity.
In his early work, Hemingway’s heroes find dignity through purely personal moments of fulfillment. For
example, the protagonist in his short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” becomes a code
hero when he stands his ground as a buffalo charges at him on an open plain in Africa. Previously, he had
shown himself to be a coward when he had run from a lion, an action his wife uses to humiliate him and thus
gain power over him. Yet, by the end of the story, Macomber has found his courage and so experiences a
perfect moment of transcendence when he faces the buffalo without fear. His perfect moment is a purely
personal one, based on his own desperate need to prove himself a man. Robert Jordan, the protagonist in For
Whom the Bell Tolls, presents another example of Hemingway’s code hero. However, Hemingway alters his
traditional type in his characterization of Jordan. Instead of defining him as a hero through a personal moment
of dignity, as he does with Macomber, Hemingway presents a man who becomes a hero through an expression
of communal responsibility.
Robert Jordan volunteers to help the Loyalists in their war with the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War
because of his liberal politics and his great love for the Spanish people. Initially, he is devoted to their cause;
however, he soon becomes disillusioned about the reality of war. He sees atrocities committed on both sides
and listens to Loyalist sympathizers plot, not for the good of the cause, but for their own personal gain.
During his frequent internal debates, Jordan comes to the conclusion that he distrusts the politics and practices
of those he has sworn to support. He has heard Russian officers, who in theory have come to aid the Loyalists,
discuss their intentions to gain personal advantages during the war. He has also heard of how the Spanish
people, for whom he is ultimately fighting, can take enjoyment from the brutal slaughter of the enemy.
The world of For Whom the Bell Tolls appears to lack meaning like the God-abandoned world of Macomber
on an African safari or of Frederick Henry on the battlefield of A Farewell to Arms (1929). Both Macomber
and Henry eventually exhibit a strong sense of dignity in the face of their meaningless existence in very
personal moments. Both men are alone at the end of their stories, revealing a certain “grace under pressure,”
a courageous standing of their ground as they confront their fear of the unknown. Jordan, however, stands his
ground not for a purely personal sense of dignity and self-worth but for the common good. Even though he
suspects that their plan to blow up the bridge and thus check the Fascist advance will fail and even though he
recognizes that many of his compatriots have lost their belief in the cause, he refuses to turn his back on them.
In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway expressed one of the tenets of his code heroes: “What is moral is what
you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” As Pablo notes, Jordan is a “good boy”
whose sense of morality is tied to the protection of his community. This moral code frames the novel. On the
first page, Hemingway quotes from a poem by John Donne. The poem opens with the statement “No man is
an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent” and closes with an insistence that, as a result,
“never send to know For Whom the Bell Tolls; it tolls for thee.” This opening suggests that Jordan’s
experience will inevitably be a common one—that his test will be to find the courage to work toward the good
of the community. He can only fulfill his personal destiny if he fulfills that of the group.
Robert Jordan as a Hemingway “Code Hero” 44
Jordan struggles with this philosophy throughout the novel as he plans the destruction of the bridge, assuming
that the mission will fail, and as he considers suicide while facing death at the hands of the Fascists. At one
point, near the end of the novel, he tries to convince himself, “why wouldn’t it be all right to just do it now
and then the whole thing would be over with?” Yet, finally, he recognizes that he must resist the urge to end
his suffering and must, instead, stand his ground, because, he notes, “there is something you can do yet.” He
forces himself to retain consciousness so that he can stall the Fascists and so give the others a few more
minutes to get to safety.
Thus while Jordan is certainly a member of the Lost Generation, facing a world bereft of meaning and sense,
he ends his life in a community of the lost, insisting to his comrades that he will remain with them, even after
death. One of his final images is of the group making their way to safety, to a place where they can continue
to fight for the cause. The ultimate dignity that Jordan achieves in the novel is through his determination not
to give up his hope for the future, even though he knows that he cannot be a part of it. Thus he achieves the
status of a true hero, one who not only honors his own sense of responsibility but also, ultimately, that of his
Source: Wendy Perkins, Critical Essay on For Whom the Bell Tolls, in Novels for Students, The Gale Group,
2002. Perkins is an associate professor of English and American literature and film at Prince George’s
Community College and has published several articles on British and American authors.
Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom
the Bell Tolls
Ronda sits perched in the hills of southern Spain, halfway between Seville and Malaga. Its dramatic setting,
hanging on the cliffs above a river splitting the town in two, has inspired poets and artists for generations,
most notably Rainier Maria Rilke. It is therefore not surprising that Hemingway should have chosen Ronda as
a destination during his first visit to Spain in 1923. Carlos Baker tells the story:
The night life of Seville was boring to Hemingway. They watched a few flamenco dances,
where broad-beamed women snapped their fingers to the music of guitars. . . .“Oh for
Christ’s sake” he kept saying, “more flamingos!” He could not rest until Bird and McAlmon
agreed to go on to Ronda. It was even better than Mike had predicted—a spectacular village
with an ancient bullring, high in the mountains above Malaga.
His love affair with Ronda did not diminish. In Death in the Afternoon (1932) Hemingway wrote:
There is one town that would be better than Aranjuez to see your first bullfight in if you are
only going to see one and that is Ronda. That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain
on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone. The entire town and as far as you can see in
any direction is romantic background. . . . if a honeymoon or an elopement is not a success in
Ronda, it would be as well to start for Paris and commence making your own friends.
Later on in his life, when Hemingway returned to Spain in the mid-1950s, Ronda again became a favorite
destination, especially when he befriended bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez, who is from Ronda. Like fellow
expatriate Orson Welles, Hemingway spent long sojourns at Ordóñez’s “cortijo” (country house) near
When Hemingway arrived in Spain in February 1937 to cover the Spanish Civil War most of the south,
including Ronda, had already fallen to Franco. He was therefore unable to go to Andalusia during the war, but
there is little doubt that, even before reaching Spain, he had heard innumerable stories about the peasant
Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls 45
uprisings that took place in the south following the July 1936 military coup. Chapter 10 of For Whom the Bell
Tolls is Pilar’s painfully graphic account of one such uprising. More than any other chapter in the novel, it
has stirred readers’ imaginations with its gruesome realism, sparing no detail in recounting the massacre of
fascist landlords by Andalusian peasants.
Although Hemingway does not mention the location of the massacre in For Whom the Bell Tolls, scholars
have traditionally assumed that Ronda was the site of the peasant uprising. This assumption, however, has not
gone uncontested. Angel Capellán has argued that because both Pilar and Pablo (the peasant leaders) say they
come from Castilla (central Spain) we should look for an appropriate town in this area. Capellán suggests
Cuenca, like Ronda dramatically perched on the ledge of a cliff. Hemingway himself, however, put the matter
to rest when he told Hotchner: “When Pilar remembers back to what happened in their village when the
fascists came, that’s Ronda, and the details of the town are exact.”
The details of the town may be “exact” in For Whom the Bell Tolls, but not necessarily the details of the
events that took place in Ronda in 1936. Writing to Bernard Berenson in 1954, Hemingway stated that the
fascist massacre in the novel was a thing that he had “invented completely.” However, he hastened to add
that a writer has “the obligation to invent truer than things can be true." This would seem to indicate that
Hemingway was trying to reach beyond actual events in a small Spanish town to a “higher reality,” a
description of the July peasant revolution which would reveal its “inner truth,” to paraphrase Hemingway
Because Pilar’s description of the massacre is generally considered a highlight of the novel, Chapter 10 has
attracted a fair amount of critical attention. Robert Gajdusek analyzes the revolution in terms of Jungian
archetypes and points to the myth of Dionysus to explain the peasant revolution. Gajdusek also points out that
when Hemingway compares Pilar’s skill as a narrator to that of the Spanish writer Francisco de Quevedo, he
is shining his own boots, so to speak, for all to see.
As if to balance Gajdusek’s approach to the chapter through pagan myth, H. R. Stoneback has argued that it
possesses an undercurrent of Catholic doctrine which he claims runs throughout the novel as a whole.
Stoneback argues that the priest who is finally slaughtered is the real protagonist of Pilar’s tale, and that the
priest points to one of the novel’s central themes, the need for atonement.
As engaging as these two readings of Chapter 10 may be, it seems to me that there is a need to examine the
real history of Ronda—the actual events that took place in this town in July 1936—in order to understand
Hemingway’s fictional rendering. In 1996 I was invited to Ronda for a conference on Hemingway and Orson
Welles, a perfect opportunity to do research in the local archives and to browse through the records of the
Town Hall, and above all, to talk with senior citizens who could still remember those days of passion and
death. Oddly enough, no book has been written on the subject, and those books that mention the massacre of
Ronda do so from a partisan perspective. This, then, is a brief—and certainly incomplete—narration, pieced
together from different written and oral accounts of the revolution.
On 19 July 1936 the commander of the small army garrison in Ronda, upon reports of a military uprising in
Morocco, went to the Town Hall with a small platoon and demanded that the mayor submit to his authority
and publicly announce that the city was under martial law and the army was taking control. The mayor
belonged to the left-wing coalition known as the Popular Front. He refused to follow the commander’s orders
and swiftly disarmed him and his small band of soldiers, heavily outnumbered by the peasant groups
beginning to assemble on the plaza outside the town hall. Thus, Ronda remained loyal to the Republican
government of Madrid, and did not fall to the fascists until 18 September 1936.
However, it would be wrong to assume that during these two months the Republican government in Madrid
had any control over the town or its inhabitants. As soon as the reports of a military rising in Africa began to
Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls 46
spread, the peasants from neighboring villages poured into Ronda and in effect took control. Although the
mayor was nominally in charge, the real power belonged to a “Comité” formed by the peasants themselves,
most of whom belonged to CNT (Conferación Nacional del Trabajo), the Anarchist Labor Union.
The task of this committee was three-fold: first, to arrest all persons suspected of having fascist sympathies;
second, to insure that food was evenly distributed to all inhabitants (money was outlawed and vouchers with
the CNT rubber-stamp were issued); third, to prepare to defend Ronda from a probable attack by fascist troops
stationed in Seville.
The word “revolution” immediately comes to mind when we attempt to describe the situation in Ronda in
summer 1936. The Secretary’s “Record of Proceedings” for 28 July 1936, preserved in Ronda’s Town Hall,
displays revolutionary rhetoric: “[W]e are living through a moment of historic transcendence . . . the fascist
coup has spurred the populace to rise to the last man and to demand social justice . . . a new society is being
born, based upon liberty, justice and equality . . . justice has now become ‘revolutionary justice’ designed to
cleanse the state of all fascist elements as well as to establish the basis for a new social order etc.”
Ronda—like so many other towns and villages in Andalusia—was living through a revolution characterized,
according to Pitt-Rivers, by “its moralism, its naturalism, its millenarian belief, its insistence upon justice and
order in the organization of social relations, its refusal to tolerate authority not vested in the community, to
admit any social organization other than the pueblo.” The Andalusian anarchists had been waiting for
generations for the right moment to strike. In July 1936 a weak government in Madrid, together with a coup
by the fascist generals in Morocco produced the ideal situation for such a rising. The Anarchists realized the
vacuum of power affecting great parts of Spain and moved quickly to take control.
There is no official record of how many people were killed during the summer 1936 peasant revolution of
Ronda. Estimates range from 200 to 600. Hugh Thomas remarks: “Hemingway’s account is near to reality of
what happened in the Andalusian town of Ronda . . . 512 were murdered in the first month of the war.”
Thomas took this figure from the Catholic writer José María de Peman, so he is not necessarily accurate. Still,
the figure is staggering considering that the town’s population in 1935 was 15,000 people.
The summer 1936 massacre in Ronda did not take place quite in the way Hemingway described it. Normal
procedure would be for the Anarchists’' Committee to draw up a list of people who were either fascist or had
fascist sympathies and to order their arrest. Some were arrested, but others were taken to a lonely location out
of town (sometimes the cemetery itself) and shot dead. I was told that the truck which carried this doomed
cargo came to be known as “Dracula,” and that the sight of this truck entering a neighborhood, usually at
night, was not a welcome one for those fearing arrest.
No mass carnage occurred in front of the Town Hall—as Hemingway describes—but several massacres did
occur, the most notorious involving the killing of a number of local priests: “On the twenty-third of July two
hundred armed peasants entered the castle, where the local Salesian priests have their residence, in order to
search for machine guns, which, they said were stored secretly in the basement. . . . On the following day,
they returned and took the priests under arrest. . . . In the evening, a number of these priests were taken from
the prison where they were being kept and driven to an out-of-town location known as El Tajo, where they
were shot dead. . . . They were the first victims of the red terror in Ronda.”
No fascists were thrown over the cliff, as Hemingway would have it. One person did commit suicide by
throwing himself over the cliff, according to an eyewitness report. Edward Stanton has drawn my attention to
a passage in Death in the Afternoon that seems to foreshadow the fascist massacre in For Whom the Bell
Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls 47
The bull ring at Ronda was built at the end of the eighteenth century and is of wood. It stands
at the edge of the cliff and after the bullfight when the bulls have been skinned and dressed
and their meat sent out for sale on carts they drag the dead horses over the edge of the cliff
and the buzzards that have circled over the edge of the town and high in the air over the ring
all day, drop to feed on the rocks below the town.
It is hardly surprising that the dramatic cliffs of Hemingway’s beloved Ronda should come to mind as a
setting for the portrayal of revolution in a small Spanish town.
One key element in Hemingway’s description was apparently absent in the Ronda revolution of 1936: the
practice of ritual. There is nothing haphazard or disorganized—as one would expect in a mob action—in
Hemingway’s fictional massacre. Everything follows Pablo’s carefully established plan and unfolds in three
stages. First, the fascists are arrested in their homes, taken to the Town Hall, and imprisoned. Second, Pablo’s
men besiege the small local garrison of the Guardia Civil until it is finally conquered and its defenders shot.
The final stage of Pablo’s plan is the most surprising and (for some critics) the most shocking: “While the
priest was [hearing confession,] Pablo organized those in the plaza into two lines. He placed them in two lines
as you would place men in a rope pulling contest, or as they stand in a city to watch the ending of a bicycle
road race with just enough room for the cyclists to pass between or as men stood to allow the passage of a
holy image in a procession.” The ritual of death is about to begin.
According to Blackey and Paynton, ritual in a revolutionary process serves two important functions: it
reaffirms individual loyalties and brings mob violence under control by curbing the destructive instincts
which any revolutionary process inevitably arouses. There is therefore nothing “morbid” or “gruesome”
about the organized lynching of the fascist prisoners. Only by so doing—Blackey and Paynton would
argue—does the peasant community become truly “revolutionary.” Only through this “communion of blood”
are revolutionary loyalties firmly established.
The ritual of death—the sacrifice of the landlords—will bring about the regeneration of the peasant community.
“‘We thresh fascists today’ said one [peasant], ‘and out of this chaff comes the freedom of this pueblo.’”
The peasants themselves understand that the revolution—like other rituals they have participated in (harvest
fiestas, bullfights, the Catholic mass)—should bring about a catharsis, a spiritual cleansing.
Pilar explains both the nature of revolutionary ritual and the reasons for its failure: “Certainly if the fascists
were to be executed by the people, it was better for all the people to have a part in it, and I wished to share the
guilt as much as any, just as I hoped to share in the benefits when the town should be ours. But after Don
Guillermo [’s death] I felt a feeling of shame and distaste, and with the coming of the drunkards and the
worthless ones into the lines . . . I wished I might disassociate myself altogether. . . .” The exemplary
punishment of a few fascist landlords became a bloodbath by a mob totally out of control, as Hemingway so
vividly portrays in his novel.
He does not, however, condemn the revolution itself, but rather the way it is mishandled when the drunkards
take over. Pilar puts the blame squarely on the CNT for the bloodbath: “It would have been better for the
town if they had thrown over [the cliff] twenty or thirty of the drunkards, especially those of the red-and-black
scarves, and if we ever have another revolution, I believe they should be destroyed at the start.” While it is
true that CNT members (“red and black scarves”) got out of hand and turned “revolution” into “bloodbath,”
it is also true that without the CNT there would hardly have been a revolution in Spain at all. The Anarchists
in general should be credited both for the early success of the revolution in most of Andalusia as well as for
their failure to control it. As we noted earlier, it was precisely through “ritual” that Pablo—a true
anarchist—attempted to control his own revolutionary coup. The fact that he failed in no way discredits the
ritual he engaged in.
Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls 48
But was this “ritual-of-death” a Hemingway invention or a common practice amongst Anarchists? Although I
found no evidence of such ritual in the massacre at Ronda, I did locate several instances in the records of
neighboring towns and villages. Here are but a few examples—In Almeria, a bullfight took place in which six
fascists were shot dead for each of the six bulls in the fight. In Huercanal (Cordoba), the whole village lined
the streets to stab, with their own kitchen knives, a sexton reported to have received as many as two hundred
wounds before he was finally put to death (the report is strikingly similar to Hemingway’s own story). In the
village of Grazalema, close to Ronda, a local peasant being questioned about the fascists he murdered during
the uprising first refused to answer, and then finally stated that “he” did nothing . . . that “Grazalema” did it
(this recalls the medieval story of Fuenteovejuna—a town that rose in arms against its Governor and then
refused to apportion individual responsibility for the deed—“Fuenteovejuna did it”).
Stories such as these—which Hemingway must have heard in plenty as soon as he arrived in Spain in February
1937—ultimately inspired him to write his own account of the July 1936 peasants’ uprising. Pilar’s long and
detailed story of this revolt becomes the cornerstone of the whole novel. The revolution failed not simply
because “three days . . . later the fascists took the town,” but because, the peasant revolt of Andalusia
drowned in its own blood. The failure of the Anarchist revolution of July was the perfect justification—nine
months later—for the May 1937 Communist takeover of the Republican government. It is no idle coincidence
that Hemingway begins the narration of his story at precisely this moment. Robert Jordan receives his orders
from a Soviet commander, General Golz, and although Jordan is not affiliated with the Communist Party, he
strongly believes (as did Hemingway himself) that only the Communists could win the war for the Republic.
Thus Hemingway takes us from the beginnings of the war (the Anarchist revolution of July 1936), to its
midpoint (the Communist takeover in May 1937) and then points to the end of the war with the death of
Robert Jordan and his reflections on what the war has meant for him and his reasons for fighting “the good
fight.” Although the main action of For Whom the Bell Tolls takes place in May 1937, the novel should be
read as a “total” commentary on the war, spanning its commencement and its final moments.
Much has been written about Hemingway’s political position during the Spanish Civil War. William Watson
has shown the close ties, mediated by Joris Ivens, between Hemingway and the Communist Party. It was
Hemingway’s deep conviction—while the war lasted—that only the Communist Party could possibly bring
final victory to the Republic. But as soon as the war was over and Hemingway began to write For Whom the
Bell Tolls, he “detached himself politically,” as Allen Josephs puts it, and contemplated the war from a
broader perspective. It is from this politically detached position that Hemingway narrates, through Pilar, the
Anarchist rising of 1936. It is no accident that he chose Pilar to tell the tale of revolution, for only Pilar, as
Stanton has suggested, has the epic grandeur, the tragic feeling, and the duende to tell such a story. Her tale
echoes Yeats’ of the Irish Easter Rising: “a terrible beauty is born!”
Source: Ramón Buckley, “Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls,” in
Hemingway Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, Fall 1997, pp. 49-56.
Macho Posturing in For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Role of
Andrés of Villaconejos
In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway presents us with a strange dialogue between Fernando and the gypsy
woman Pilar, whose praise of melons from the Valencia region draws this reply:
“The melon of Castile is better,” Fernando said. “Qué va,” said [Pilar]. "The melon of
Castile is for self abuse. The melon of Valencia is for eating.” (85, italics, except for the
Spanish, added)
Macho Posturing in For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Role of Andrés of Villaconejos 49
Why does Hemingway have Pilar recommend the melon of Castile as an object for self abuse for the male
Fernando and thus as an object of vaginal signification? Is this one of the numerous seemingly meaningless
obscenities in Hemingway’s Spanish Civil War novel, some of which appear to serve no other purpose than
providing comic relief? Hemingway offered an explanation when he remarked in his famous interview with
the Paris Review in 1958 that
it is very bad for a writer to talk about how he writes. He writes to be read by the eye and no
explanations or dissertations should be necessary. You can be sure that there is much more
than will be read at any first reading and having made this it is not the writer’s province to
explain it or run guided tours through the more difficult country of his work. (Plimpton 29-30,
italics added)
Gary Cooper (far right) as Robert Jordan and Ingrid Bergman (second from right) as Maria in the 1943 film
version of the novel
I approach For Whom the Bell Tolls as a text where not only do earlier parts determine the meanings of later
parts as is customary, but where the meanings of earlier parts are retroactively informed by later passages:
phrases, passages, or scenes palimpsestically interact with those that come later in the novel. How, then, does
Hemingway retroactively endow with thematic significance the foul-mouthed Pilar’s remark about certain
melons being vaginal objects? In a novel that seems to celebrate the bravery of a few good men. “Andrés
Lopez of Villaconejos,” as he identifies himself to guards he encounters while trying to deliver a message
from Robert Jordan to a Loyalist headquarters, replies, when asked where he was born:
“Villaconejos,” Andrés said. “And what do they raise there?” “Melons,” Andrés said. “As
all the world knows.” (375, italics added)
What the ironist Hemingway wants to communicate to the reader is that, according to Pilar’s and even
Andrés’s own pronouncement, in Señor Lopez’s home town they raise something which males can employ
for the purpose of “self abuse”—“As all the world knows.
That Hemingway could expect the reader to discover a palimpsestic intertextuality between Andrés’s mention
of melons from Villaconejos on page 375 and Pilar’s obscene pronouncement almost 300 pages earlier
concerning the proper use of the “melon of Castile” results from his writing a linguistic-game novel that
centers around the nickname the protagonist gives to his lover—“Rabbit”—the Spanish word for which is
conejo. Andrés Lopez comes from a place named “Village of Rabbits.” But then, conejo is also a slang term
for the female pudendum, comparable to English “[p—].” Therefore an association between Pilar’s “melon of
Castile” and the melons of “Villaconejos” indeed makes sense—if Hemingway is presenting Andrés’s home
Macho Posturing in For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Role of Andrés of Villaconejos 50
town as a “Village of [P—s].” But is this what Hemingway is doing?
Señor Lopez had gained quite a reputation among the men in the village he grew up in when, during a
bullbaiting, he had the animal’s “ear clenched tight in his teeth” as he was driving “his knife again and again
and again” into the bull’s neck. “And every year after that he had to repeat it. They called him the bulldog of
Villaconejos and joked about him eating cattle raw.” “Or they would say, ‘That’s what it is to have at pair
of cojones! Year after year!’.”
But Andrés isn't happy about having to live up to his reputation, and he feels relieved every time he doesn’t
have to go through with it:
Surely. He was the Bulldog of Villaconejos and not for anything would he have missed doing
it each year in his village. But he knew there was no better feeling than the one the sound of
the rain gave when he knew he would not have to do it.
The reader perceives the irony that, whereas Andrés is afraid of repeating his performance, his fellow villagers
extol his courage. However, Hemingway also may be satirizing the concept that underlies the use of the word
cojones in the meaning of courage: he ridicules and perhaps even questions the appropriateness of such a
male-sexist concept by presenting Andrés’s hometown as a “Village of Pussies.”
Hemingway thus poetically transmogrifies those men who would restrict a universal character trait, courage,
to those humans who possess male genitalia into conejos / “pussies” / “wimps” / cowards. The change in my
word selection suggests my belief that Hemingway was more interested in exposing macho posturing by
“wimps” than actually “vaginifying” those men. But then we must not forget that the palimpsestic
interaction of the novel does transform a paragon of “what it is to have a pair of cojones” into what Pilar
views as sexually symbolized by a melon. A middle ground would be that without necessarily meaning any
physiological references, Hemingway spiritually unmans or “melonifies” the would-be bullfighters of
It is important to note that Hemingway does not tell us of Andrés’s boyhood adventures and adolescent fears
until his cowardice as a soldier has been revealed. Andrés is ordered to deliver a message that might prevent
his returning for the dangerous bridge-blowing, and it is that order that prompts Andrés to remember his
bullbaiting days:
[Andrés] wanted to get this message-taking over and be back for the attack on the posts in the
morning. Did he really want to get back though or did he only pretend he wanted to be back?
He knew the reprieved feeling he had felt when the Inglés had told him he was to go with the
message . . . when the Inglés had spoken to him of the message he had felt the way he used to
feel when he was a boy and he had wakened in the morning of the festival of his village and
heard it raining hard so that he knew that it would be too wet and that the bullbaiting in the
square would be cancelled. (363—64, italics added)
Hemingway carefully sets Andrés up for his eventual exposure during adulthood. We know from pages
363-64 that Andrés has the “reprieved feeling”: that having been given an opportunity to escape the dangers
of the bridge-blowing mission he is reminded of the reprieve rain afforded him when bullbaitings in his
boyhood village were cancelled. It is therefore appropriate that Hemingway has Andrés mention the melons of
Villaconejos when he is on a journey that he knows will grant him a “reprieve” from the deadly fighting at
the bridge.
It is through having Andrés relive his adolescent bullbaiting reprieves during his military reprieve that
Hemingway performs a “melonification” of this extolled paragon of manhood. When the guerilla group
Macho Posturing in For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Role of Andrés of Villaconejos 51
meets on the morning of the bridge-blowing mission, Agustin makes a seemingly strange remark to Andrés’s
brother about his brother’s absence: “And thy brother? . . . Thy famous brother has mucked off?.” Why does
Hemingway have Agustin refer to Andrés as a “famous” brother, and why is that famous brother’s name
conspicuously absent from this context? While Agustin presumably is referring to the “Bulldog of
Villaconejos” and his famous “pair of cojones,” the author actually is calling on the reader to take a closer
look at the absentee’s name. Hemingway is making a hilarious pun in his satiric portrayal of the cowardly
Señor Lopez: the name of Andrés’s Biblical predecessor, Andrew, literally means “manly.”
Once we discover that Hemingway actually uses Señor Lopez’s first name for a linguistic pun, we see how
Pilar’s pronouncement on the usefulness of melons fits into the linguistic games the author plays in the
“Andrés Lopez of Villaconejos” context: Hemingway poetically un-Andrews Señor Lopez not only into a
conejo, but also into a “melon”—into something that “All the world knows . . . they raise in Villaconejos.”
And we as readers might do well to consider the possibility that Hemingway actually may have used For
Whom the Bell Tolls to satirize, however subtly, macho posturing—including the macho posturing that he
himself had been guilty of in his own writings.
Source: Wolfgang E. H. Rudat, “Macho Posturing in For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Role of Andrés of
Villaconejos," in ANQ, Vol. 94, No. 1, Winter 1996, pp. 27-30.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Selected Quotes
1) “I don’t like that sadness, he thought. That sadness is bad. That’s the sadness they get before they quit or
betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out.” Page 12
For Whom the Bell Tolls follows Robert Jordan, an American fighting on the side of the loyalists in the
Spanish Civil War. Jordan joins a group of guerillas, namely Pablo, who used to be a respected and feared
leader but is deteriorating into a drunk. When Jordan first meets Pablo, he compliments him on his courage
and loyalty. However, he soon discovers Pablo is sullen, and it disturbs him. He realizes Pablo’s sullen
sadness will result in tragedy.
A Hemingway code hero fights for freedom. His actions are determined by his own code of beliefs, not the
vague causes of justice or glory. However, some who cannot accept the fight for freedom become
disillusioned, or sullen and sad, in the case of Pablo. Pablo has fought valiantly for freedom, but it is not
sustaining him. When this happens, as Jordan predicts, the person will sell out. This passage appears very
early in the book and foreshadows Jordan’s dealings with Pablo as well as his own death.
2) “An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with fools.” Page 215
Pablo was once a revered guerilla leader, but after he obtained horses, he becomes sullen and begins to drink
heavily, to the point his own men plot to kill him. He is not trusted and proves later not worthy of this trust
when he steals the detonators. When Pablo makes this statement, it is after Jordan has tried to provoke him so
he can kill him, and Agustin has hit him several times, to which Pablo simply replies, “Thou wilt injure thy
hands.” This statement shows his contempt for the men whom he has fought with in the past.
Pablo is the image of past glory, greed, and disillusionment. He even sarcastically toasts Jordan and Pilar, his
woman, with “To all the illusioned ones,” implying that he is not disillusioned but in fact the only one seeing
clearly. He states he must be drunk to be around them. While others view this as cowardice, he has his own
goals of survival. His actions do a lot of harm, but he shows moments of conscience, illustrating that he has
not totally shunned his past ideals.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Selected Quotes 52
3) “Here it is the shift from deadliness to normal family life that is the strangest.” Page 227
In this chapter, Jordan is very contemplative about his situation and conflict in general. He says it is like a
merry-go-round that takes you back where you started and has no prizes. While he is working on drawings,
Maria stands over his shoulder. He keeps reminding himself to stay off the wheel, when he is talking to Pablo
about the plan for attacking the bridge. While observing the scenes of domesticity, such as Pilar watching a
card game, he thinks about the down turn of the wheel, the shift to “normal family life,” that gets you. Before
his involvement with this group, life for him was much simpler. He knew what he had to do and how to do it.
But after falling in love with Maria, who feels she has been desecrated, and joining up with Pablo, who is a
fallen leader, things become complicated for him.
The rest of this chapter describes Jordan’s relationship with Karkov and more of his feelings about war and
the hypocrisy of leaders. At the beginning, he considered himself a crusader, an interesting religious
correlation with his earlier request that Maria wash his feet, evoking images of Christ and Mary Magdalene.
Now, with Maria as his anchor, he has to think beyond his assignment and alter his plans to include her.
4) “Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the
grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and
a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond.” Page
For a code hero, death is an inevitable. Dying is not feared, but the hero wants to die with courage and honor
and fighting for a good cause. In this chapter, the point of view has switched to El Sordo, who is being
massacred by the Fascists. His men have retreated to a hill, where he knows they’ll die, and he’s angry about
being trapped on a hill. He thinks, “If one must die . . . and clearly one must, I can die. But I hate it.” Then he
continues that dying is nothing, but living is different. Later, because he knows they are dying, his men try to
take out as many of the enemy as they can, yet they can’t fight against the planes that tear them to bits,
illustrating how violent and pointless war can be. When they are all dead, the opposition lieutenant Berrendo
orders them beheaded to use as an example, commenting, “What a bad thing war is.”
To a soldier like El Sordo, death is inevitable but not to be feared. He doesn’t long for death and avoids it if
he can, but in the end he knows it will come and he wants to go out fighting. In comparison, life is small and
violent, a field of grain on a hill, a hawk in the sky; a combination of nature’s gifts and the realities of
survival. It is water among dust, poetic in its hardship. War defiles all of this by trampling the land and ending
the lives of its people, turning them into barbarians.
5) “But is not a good night’s sleep supposed to be priceless? You had a good night’s sleep. See if you can
wear that like a ring on your finger.” Page 371
In this chapter, Jordan is in bed with Maria. She has previously told him of the horrors in her past, and he says
he wants to marry her. Pablo has deceived them, and he believes the next day will be his last. After fighting
down his anger at Pablo, Pilar, and himself, Jordan watches Maria sleep. He is glad he kept his worries and
anger from her, so she sleeps restfully, and that is all he can give her for a wedding present, but it is priceless.
However, as he continues to watch her sleep, he feels her breath and heartbeat and watches his wrist watch,
foreshadowing his death.
This section is a respite from the violence. Between the slaughter of El Sordo’s men and the coming battle on
the bridge, plus the despair Jordan feels at having lost the detonators, this short chapter serves as a brief
moment of peace; earlier, El Sordo had said life was like a jar of water in the dust of a threshing machine.
This chapter illustrates that analogy.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Selected Quotes 53
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Compare and Contrast
1930s-1940s: The world experiences a decade of aggression in the 1930s that culminates in World
War II. This second world war results from the rise of totalitarian regimes in Germany, Italy, and
Japan. One week after Nazi Germany and the USSR sign the Treaty of Nonaggression, Germany
invades Poland, and World War II begins.
Today: The world is threatened by Islamic fundamentalist groups who have declared a holy war
against the West. These radical groups have committed terrorist acts in several countries including the
United States. On September 11, 2001, the most devastating acts of terror to date worldwide are
delivered as terrorists fly planes into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and into the
Pentagon and are responsible for the crash of another plane in Pennsylvania.
1930s-1940s: Civil war breaks out in Spain in 1936 between the Fascists, backed by Germany and
Italy, and the Loyalists, backed by the USSR.
Today: Spain has been established as a social and democratic country that is governed by a
parliamentary monarchy. National sovereignty is vested in the Spanish people.
1930s-1940s: American women gain a measure of independence in the workplace as they labor in the
factories, replacing men who have gone to war. By 1945, the peak of the war production,
approximately 19 million women hold jobs. Independence is difficult to relinquish when, at the end of
the war, the men come home and demand their jobs back, and their wives return to their traditional
roles in the home.
Today: American women have made major gains in their fight for equality even without the 1972
Equal Rights Amendment Bill. Discrimination against women is now against the law.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Topics for Further Study
Watch the film version of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Do you think the film is dated? What scenes
would you update for today’s audience?
Compare the portrait of war in A Farewell to Arms to that of For Whom the Bell Tolls. How are they
simliar? What differences do you see? Which resonates the most for you as the reader, and why?
Research the Loyalist sympathizers during the Spanish Civil War. Do Hemingway’s guerrilla bands
in For Whom the Bell Tolls represent an accurate portrayal of the Loyalist faction during this war?
Explain your answer.
Some critics find the relationship between Jordan and Maria to be overly romantic and unrealistic.
Support or refute this conclusion.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Media Adaptations
For Whom the Bell Tolls was adapted as a film by Sam Wood, with a screenplay by Dudley Nichols,
starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, from Paramount, 1943. It is available on video and DVD.
· An audio version, read by Alexander Adams, has been published by Books on Tape.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: What Do I Read Next?
Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1929) chronicles a doomed love affair between an American
lieutenant and a British nurse during World War I.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Compare and Contrast 54
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) is considered, along with The Sun Also Rises, to be
one of the seminal works of the Lost Generation.
Antony Beevor’s The Spanish Civil War, published in 2001, presents a comprehensive account of the
conflict that served as a bloody precursor to World War II.
Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926) focuses on the aftermath of World War I especially on how
the war affected the lives of displaced Americans.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Bibliography and Further Reading
Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel. Dell, 1960.
Nagel, James. “Ernest Hemingway.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 9: American Novelists,
1910-1945. Gale Research, 1981, pp. 100-20.
Reynolds, Michael. “Ringing the Changes: Hemingway’s Bell Tolls Fifty.” In Virginia Quarterly Review,
Vol. 67, No. 1, Winter 1991, pp. 1-18.
Young, Philip. “Ernest Hemingway.” In American Writers, Vol. 2, 1974, pp. 247-70.
For Further Reading
Buckley, Ramon. “Revolution in Ronda: The Facts in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.” In
Hemingway Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, Fall 1997, pp. 49-57. Buckley places the novel in its historical context.
Martin, Robert A. “Robert Jordan and the Spanish Country: Learning to Live in It ‘Truly and Well.’” In
Hemingway Review, Vol. 16, No. 1, Fall 1996, pp. 56-64. Martin presents a close analysis of the character of
Robert Jordan and his relationship to Spanish culture.
Meyers, Jeffrey, “For Whom the Bell Tolls as Contemporary History.” In The Spanish Civil War in
Literature, edited by Janet Perez and Wendell Aycock. Texas Tech University Press, 1990, pp. 85-107. This
essay explores the political implications of the novel.
Wylder, Delbert E. “For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Mythic Hero in the Contemporary World.” In
Hemingway’s Heroes. University of New Mexico Press, 1969, pp. 127-64. Wylder presents an analysis of
Robert Jordan who, he writes, “follows the mythical journey of the hero in a modern setting.”

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