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1. One of the most frequent criticisms
of for whom the bell tolls is that Hemingway portrays
Maria as too submissive and eager to please to be a believable character.
Do you agree with this critique? What is the role of women in the
2. The novel ends with Robert
Jordan near death but still alive, feeling his “heart beating against
the pine needle floor of the forest.” What is the effect of this
ending? How would the novel be different if it ended after his death?
Which ending do you prefer?
3. Some have criticized Hemingway
for romanticizing the Spanish peasantry, especially in passages
such as “They are wonderful when they are good, he thought. There
is no people like them when they are good, and when they go bad
there is no people that is worse.” Find at least one other passage
that takes a similar tone. Do you agree with this criticism of Hemingway?
If so, does his romantic portrayal of the peasants detract from
the novel? If not, why not?
4. Robert Jordan projects a jaded,
seen-it-all attitude throughout much of the novel, yet he also believes
that “one thing done well . . . may make all the difference.” Is
Robert Jordan a cynic or an idealist? Does his view of the world change
during the course of the novel? How does his attitude differ from
5. Many characters in for
whom the bell tolls remember or tell stories about their
pasts. Pilar remembers her life with the toreador Finito and tells
a long story about the brutal beginning of the war in Pablo’s home
town. Robert Jordan remembers his father and grandfather and meeting
his friend Karkov in Madrid. Maria talks about the day the Fascists killed
her parents and cut off her hair. Andrés remembers baiting bulls
in his village. In a novel in which the action happens over a scant
three days, what is the role of the past? How does it affect the
Ace your assignments with our guide to For Whom The Bell Tolls!