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For Whom The Bell Tolls

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

“Pasionaria says ‘Better to die on thy—’” Joaquín was saying to himself as the drone came nearer them. Then he shifted suddenly into “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. . . .”

This excerpt comes from Chapter Twenty-seven, El Sordo’s last stand on his hill. The quotation, spoken by El Sordo’s young companion Joaquín, starkly illustrates the inadequacies of the Republican government and its leadership in the war. The Republican government outlawed religion when it came to power six years earlier, and the teenage Joaquín came of age under its propaganda. He clings to Republican rhetoric throughout the attack on the hill, despite the laughter of his older and more cynical comrades. The Republicans’ empty words prove to be cold comfort as Joaquín faces death. Hemingway views this empty rhetoric as a betrayal of the true needs of the Spanish peasants, who had grown up with religion and see it as a comfort. Indeed, as Joaquín faces death, he remembers his Catholic childhood—his beliefs before the Republicans outlawed religion—and prays to the Virgin Mary. Likewise, Anselmo turns to prayer as he beholds the beheaded Joaquín and his comrades not long after. Ultimately, although most of the protagonists of Hemingway’s novels, including Robert Jordan, do not believe in God, Hemingway does not criticize the need to rely on religion for support.