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Robert Jordan thinks to himself as he walks back from Primitivo’s post. He struggles with the conflict between wanting to follow orders and believing that the orders are useless. He remembers his family. His mother bullied his weak father, who finally committed suicide with the same rifle that his own father had used in the American Civil War.
As Robert Jordan imagines a tremendous success in the next day’s offensive, he realizes that the bridge-blowing operation won’t be called off because those making the decision won’t be able to help themselves from imagining the same success he imagines. The certainty calms him down.
Robert Jordan and Maria lie in his sleeping bag together. Maria says that she is sore, so they decide not to have intercourse, although Robert Jordan privately thinks that this bad luck the night before blowing up the bridge is a bad sign. Maria offers to bring him to orgasm some other way, but he declines.
Robert Jordan says that he’d rather not talk about the present, so they imagine their future life in Madrid. Their reverie is briefly interrupted when Maria reveals that Pilar predicted that they would all die tomorrow. Pilar’s indiscretion angers Robert Jordan.
Maria then talks about the day she was captured. The Fascists shot both of her parents against a wall. Her father was the mayor of their town, and his last words were for the Republic. Maria’s mother’s last words were about Maria’s father. The Fascists cut off Maria’s hair, gagged her with her own braids, drew the letters UHP (Unión de Hermanos Proletarios, a Communist association) on her forehead, and then took her into her father’s office and took turns raping her. Maria wants Robert Jordan to know that she struggled the whole time, and that Pilar suggested that the violent incident may have left Maria infertile. Robert Jordan promises that they will get married. After she falls asleep, he calms his anger by telling himself that both sides have committed atrocities in the war. He wishes that they could have made love and admires Maria’s mother’s last words.
In Madrid, Robert Jordan’s friend Karkov arrives at his apartments at the Hotel Gaylord and greets his wife and German-speaking mistress. Karkov finds out that the German commander has been telling everyone about the next day’s offensive. A puffy-eyed journalist for the Russian newspaper Izvestia informs Karkov that La Pasionaria (a Communist orator whose real name is Dolores) has brought news that the Fascists have been bombing their own troops near Segovia.