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For Whom The Bell Tolls

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 2

. . . [Y]ou felt that you were taking part in a crusade. . . . [It] would be as difficult and embarrassing to speak about as a religious experience and yet it was authentic. . . . It gave you a part in something that you could believe in wholly and completely and in which you felt an absolute brotherhood with the others who were engaged in it.

This passage, from Chapter Eighteen, is an interior monologue in which Robert Jordan describes his earlier idealism about the war, which the realities of warfare have long since crushed. The passage gives us a glimpse of what may have caused Robert Jordan to leave his life and job in the states to volunteer to fight in a foreign war: he sought something to believe in “wholly and completely” and also sought communion, an “absolute brotherhood” with other people. But his disillusionment with the “bureaucracy and inefficiency and party strife” he sees in the Republican cause and its leaders foreshadows his current opinion that the leaders have “betrayed” their people. The religious vocabulary Hemingway uses, such as “crusade,” “communion,” “consecration,” emphasizes the depth of Robert Jordan’s feelings and suggests that, for many people, the Republican cause became a substitute religion. But Robert Jordan’s use of religious language is accompanied by a touch of irony, since he immediately distances himself from using religious metaphors, which he characterizes as “embarrassing.” This constant qualification of exactly what he means is typical of Robert Jordan’s monologues.

Although Robert Jordan is jaded and cynical at the start of the novel, he comes to realize both his goals—his desire for something to believe in wholly and his desire for communion—by the end of the novel. Through his relationship with Maria, Robert Jordan finds love in which he can believe fully, love that he can integrate into his life. He also feels as if he has found family—an absolute brotherhood—with the guerrilleros: “I have been all my life in these hills. . . . Anselmo is my oldest friend. . . . Agustín . . . is my brother. . . . Maria is my true love and my wife. . . . She is also my sister . . . and my daughter.”