was completely integrated now and he took a good long look at everything.
Then he looked up at the sky. There were big white clouds in it.
He touched the palm of his hand against the pine needles where he
lay and he touched the bark of the pine trunk that he lay behind.
This passage from the last chapter of
the novel describes Robert Jordan at the moment when, wounded and
alone, he realizes that he will be able to stay alive long enough
to ambush the approaching Fascist cavalry, thereby buying the guerrilleros
some time to escape. The passage, especially its first phrase, provides
a climactic resolution of one of the novel’s themes—Robert Jordan’s
continual struggle with himself to figure out his motives and his
purpose. For the first time, he feels “completely integrated” with
Having rejected Communism sometime before the start of
the novel, Robert Jordan now embraces not some abstract idea of
a brotherhood of men but the concrete human relationships he has forged
with a specific group of guerrilleros. After long proclaiming that
he does not believe in Pilar’s signs and omens, he now accepts the
possibility that “[the gypsies] see something. Or they feel something.”
Having spent much of the novel arguing with himself about abstractions,
Robert Jordan is now at peace simply to appreciate and say goodbye
to his physical surroundings with his concrete, physical senses.
The style of this passage is classic Hemingway. The phrase
structures are the simplest possible—there are no commas. The sentence structure’s
only complexity, the tendency toward run-ons, gives the sentences
a concrete, physical shape, like a flowing river. Also typical of
Hemingway, the simplicity of the grammar hides the depth of feeling
just below the surface: Robert Jordan touches the elements of his
physical world, one by one, including the ever-present pines, in
a gesture of final farewell. He knows he is about to die. Hemingway’s
language, with its deep feeling simmering below unadorned stoicism,
is an echo of his hero.