American volunteer for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil
War and the protagonist of For Whom the Bell Tolls
Robert Jordan is pragmatic, very good at what he does, and never
lets his emotions interfere with his work. He appreciates physical pleasures
like smelling pine trees, drinking absinthe, and having sex. At
the same time, he is conflicted about his role within the war and
within the larger world. Interior dialogues in which he argues with
himself about these conflicts constitute a significant part of the novel.
Over the course of the novel, he gradually resolves these tensions
and learns to integrate his rational, thinking side with his intuitive,
in-depth analysis of Robert Jordan.
leader of the guerrilla camp. Pablo is an individualist who feels
responsible only to himself. Hemingway often compares him to a bull,
a boar, and other burly, stubborn, and unpleasant animals. Pablo used
to be a great fighter and a great man but has now started drinking
and has “gone bad,” as many characters remark. Tired of the war
and attached to his horses, Pablo is ready to betray the Republican
cause at the start of the novel.
in-depth analysis of Pablo.
part-gypsy “woman.” Pilar means “pillar” in Spanish, and indeed,
the fiercely patriotic, stocky, and steadfast Pilar is—if not the
absolute leader—the support center of the guerrilla group. Pilar
keeps the hearth, fights in battle, mothers Robert Jordan, and bullies
Pablo and Rafael. She has an intuitive, mystical connection to deeper
truths about the working of the world.
in-depth analysis of Pilar.
young woman with Pablo’s band who falls in love with Robert Jordan.
The victim of rape at the hands of Fascists who took over her town,
Maria is frequently described by means of earth imagery. Hemingway compares
her movements to a colt’s, and Robert Jordan affectionately calls
in-depth analysis of Maria.
old, trustworthy guerrilla fighter. For Robert Jordan, Anselmo represents
all that is good about Spaniards. He lives close to the land, is
loyal, follows directions, and stays where he is told. He likes
to hunt but has not developed a taste for the kill and hates killing
people. Anselmo has stopped praying ever since the Communists banned
organized religion but admits that he misses it.
trustworthy and high-spirited guerrilla fighter. Agustín, who mans
the machine gun, curses frequently and is secretly in love with
guerrilla fighter in his mid-thirties. Short and with a lazy eye,
Fernando is dignified and literal-minded, embraces bureaucracy,
and is easily offended by vulgarities. These factors, combined with
his lack of a sense of humor, make Fernando the frequent target
of Pilar’s jokes.
elderly guerrilla fighter. Despite his gray hair and broken nose,
Primitivo has not learned the cynicism needed for survival in the
war. His name, which means “primitive,” evokes his idealism as well
as the basic, earthy lifestyle of all the guerrilleros.
gypsy member of the guerrilla band. Frequently described as well-meaning
but “worthless,” Rafael proves his worthlessness by leaving his
lookout post at a crucial moment. He is a foil for the trustworthy Anselmo,
who does not leave his post on the previous night despite the cold
and the snow. Rafael has few loyalties and does not believe in political
of the guerrilla fighters, in his late twenties. Andrés comes into
conflict with the Republican leaders’ bureaucracy in his attempt
to deliver Robert Jordan’s dispatch to the Republican command. Andrés
serves also a foil to Pablo: although both Andrés and Pablo enjoy
killing in an almost sexual way, Andrés has had the opportunity
to satisfy that thirst through his experience with bull-baiting
during a town fiesta. As a result, unlike Pablo, Andrés has learned
to identify and control his desire to kill.
older brother and another of the guerrilla fighters. The jumpy Eladio
plays a relatively minor role in the novel. His most noticeable
feature is that Robert Jordan repeatedly forgets his name. His death
at the end of the novel attracts little notice.
El Sordo (Santiago)
The leader of a guerrilla band that operates near
Pablo’s. Short, heavy, and gray-haired, El Sordo (Spanish for “the
deaf one”) is a man of few words. Like Robert Jordan, he is excited
by a successful kill and is sad to die.
of the members of El Sordo’s band. Joaquín originally wanted to
be bullfighter but was too scared. He lost most of his family at
the hands of the Fascists and cries when he talks about them. Joaquín
buys into the Republicans’ propaganda but turns back to religion at
the moment of his death, illustrating the emptiness of political
rhetoric in times of true crisis.
Russian general, allied with the Republicans, who assigns Robert
Jordan the bridge-blowing mission. Robert Jordan says that Golz
is the best general he has served under, but the Republican military
bureaucracy impedes all of Golz’s operations. Golz believes that
thinking is useless because it breaks down resolve and impedes action.
Russian guerrilla operative who once worked with Pablo’s band to
blow up a train. Although Kashkin never appears in the novel, he
is a foil for Robert Jordan. Unlike Robert Jordan, Kashkin was openly nervous.
well-connected foreign correspondent for the Russian newspaper Pravda
and Robert Jordan’s friend in Madrid. Karkov, the most intelligent
man Robert Jordan knows, teaches Robert Jordan about the harsh realities
of wartime politics. Karkov believes that abstract philosophy is
superior to action and intuition.
Captain Rogelio Gomez
A former barber and now commander of the battalion
that Andrés first reaches after crossing the Republican lines. Gomez
romanticizes the idea of guerrilla warfare and escorts Andrés to
several commanders, trying to reach General Golz.
A Republican staff office brigade commander. Miranda’s
only goal in the war is not to be demoted from his current rank.
He is one of many examples of apathetic or inept Republican commanders
who contribute to the eventual Republican defeat.
French Commissar of the International Brigades, the troops of foreign
volunteers who serve on the Republican side in the war. Marty has
become blinded by political paranoia and is convinced that he is surrounded
Lieutenant Paco Berrendo
A devoutly Catholic Fascist officer who orders the
beheading of El Sordo’s men. Berrendo’s sorrow for his dead friend,
his awareness of the useless horror of war, and his tendency toward introspection
make him a sympathetic character. Hemingway’s portrayal of Berrendo
underscores the fact that the enemy side is not faceless but composed
of real individuals who also make real and difficult decisions.
overconfident Fascist commander in charge of taking El Sordo’s hill.
Moro serves as a foil for the more introspective Lieutenant Berrendo.
Finito de Palencia
Pilar’s former lover, a bullfighter who died from
complications from wounds received in a bullfight. Short, sad-eyed,
and sullen, Finito was brave in the ring in spite of his fear of
bulls. Finito, who appears in the novel only in Pilar’s flashbacks, exemplifies
the courage of Hemingway’s code hero and Hemingway’s deep respect
for the bullfighting profession.
Robert Jordan’s father
A weak, religious man who could not stand up to
his aggressive wife and eventually committed suicide. His father’s
weakness is a constant source of embarrassment to Robert Jordan.
Robert Jordan’s grandfather
A veteran of the American Civil War and a member
of the Republican National Committee. Robert Jordan feels more closely
related to his grandfather than to his father.