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The protagonist of For Whom the Bell Tolls,
Robert Jordan left his job as a college instructor in the United
States to volunteer for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil
War. Initially, he believed in the Republican cause with a near-religious
faith and felt an “absolute brotherhood” with his comrades on the
Republican side. However, when the action of the novel starts, we
see that Robert Jordan has become disillusioned. As the conflict
drags on, he realizes that he does not really believe in the Republican
cause but joined their side simply because they fought against Fascism.
Because he fights for a side whose causes he does not necessarily
support, Robert Jordan experiences a great deal of internal conflict
and begins to wonder whether there is really any difference between
the Fascist and Republican sides.
Robert Jordan’s interior monologues and actions indicate
these internal conflicts that plague him. Although he is disillusioned
with the Republican cause, he continues to fight for that cause.
In public he announces that he is anti-Fascist rather than a Communist,
but in private he thinks that he has no politics at all. He knows
that his job requires that he kill people but also knows that he
should not believe in killing in the abstract. Despite his newfound
love for Maria, he feels that there cannot be a place for her in
his life while he also has his military work. He claims not to be
superstitious but cannot stop thinking about the world as giving
him signs of things to come. These conflicts weigh heavily on Robert
Jordan throughout the bulk of the novel.
Robert Jordan resolves these tensions at the end of For
Whom the Bell Tolls, in his final moments as he faces death.
He accepts himself as a man of action rather than thought, as a
man who believes in practicality rather than abstract theories.
He understands that the war requires him to do some things that
he does not believe in. He also realizes that, though he cannot
forget the unsavory deeds he has done in the past, he must avoid
dwelling on them for the sake of getting things done in the present. Ultimately,
Robert Jordan is able to make room in his mind for both his love
for Maria and his military mission. By the end of the novel, just
before he dies, his internal conflicts and tensions are resolved
and he feels “integrated” into the world.
Ace your assignments with our guide to For Whom The Bell Tolls!