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For Whom The Bell Tolls

Ernest Hemingway

Chapters Eighteen–Twenty

Chapters Fourteen–Seventeen

Chapters Eighteen–Twenty, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary: Chapter Eighteen

You felt that you were taking part in a crusade. . . . It gave you a part in something that you could believe in wholly and completely.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Robert Jordan feels that his confrontations with Pablo recur as though they were on a merry-go-round. He finishes drawing up plans for blowing up the bridge. He imagines going to Madrid after blowing up the bridge, staying at the Florida Hotel, and dining at Gaylord’s, the gathering place for important Russian expatriates in Madrid. It was at Gaylord’s that Robert Jordan began to learn insider information, such as the fact that many Spanish Republican leaders had been trained in Russia or came from more privileged backgrounds than they let on. Although these deceptions and the opulence at Gaylord’s initially made Robert Jordan uncomfortable, he has come to understand that the deceptions are necessary and that the opulence is nice.

At Gaylord’s, Robert Jordan met Karkov, an intelligent journalist for the Russian newspaper Pravda with great taste in women. The two men became friends. Robert Jordan remembers that Karkov was at one point responsible for three wounded Russians who were being held captive in the city. If Madrid were taken by the Fascists, Karkov was to poison the three men so that no evidence of Russian involvement would remain. Karkov said that it was not a difficult task to poison someone if you were used to always carrying poison you might have to use on yourself.

Thinking of Karkov, Robert Jordan remembers another scene. During an attack on Madrid, Robert Jordan dragged a dead man out of a car only to abandon him in the street as the dead man’s partner wanted. He abandoned the body in order to go assist a third man who was dying of an arm wound nearby. Moments afterward, Robert Jordan was stopped by a well-known British economist named Mitchell, whom Robert Jordan recognized but had never met before. Mitchell offered a cigarette and asked for information about the war, but Robert Jordan swore at him, disgusted with his academic airs. Robert Jordan remembers discussing Mitchell with Karkov. Karkov suggested that Robert Jordan read up on philosophy. Karkov also said that he read Robert Jordan’s one published academic book and said that he liked its writing style. Robert Jordan resolves to write another book about the things he knows now, the things he has come to learn in the war, which are “not so simple.”

Summary: Chapter Nineteen

Maria interrupts Robert Jordan’s musings. In front of everyone, Pilar says that Robert Jordan shot Kashkin. Pilar claims that Kashkin had a premonition that he would die, and that he smelled of death. Robert Jordan, who claims that he does not believe in superstitions, says it was more of a self-fulfilling prophecy for the nervous Kashkin.

Pilar describes the smell of death, which has four main components: the brass on a ship in danger of sinking, the taste of the kiss of an old woman who has drunk the blood of a slaughtered animal, dead flowers in the trash, and dirty water from a brothel. The snowstorm ends.

Summary: Chapter Twenty

Outside, Robert Jordan makes a bed out of a spruce tree. He lies in the bed, thinking about soul-calming smells, and waits for Maria. She comes barefoot through the snow wearing her nightgown, which she calls her “wedding shirt.” Their pillow-talk revolves around the idea that they are one and share the same heart. They make love, and Maria says that this coupling was different from the afternoon’s. In the middle of the night, Robert Jordan wakes up and embraces her, then moves away and thinks.

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