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The Republican military bureaucracy slows Andrés’s progress
considerably. Andrés meets Captain Gomez, the battalion commander of
the company Andrés encountered at the checkpoint. Gomez escorts
Andrés to the brigade command office in his motorcycle. They pass
war-ravaged trees on their way.
At the brigade command office, Gomez requests to speak
to a superior, Lieutenant-Colonel Miranda. An apathetic subordinate officer
says that Miranda is sleeping and refuses to wake him up until Gomez
threatens the officer with a gun. A short time later, Miranda walks
into the room and orders his subordinate officer to type up a letter
of safe conduct for Andrés. Miranda orders Gomez to escort Andrés
to General Golz’s headquarters.
The guerrilla fighters reach the place where they plan
to leave their horses. The horses are to be Maria’s responsibility
during the operation. Robert Jordan once again asks Pilar whether
she understands what she is supposed to do, which greatly irritates
her. He says goodbye to Pablo and is surprised by Pablo’s firm handshake.
Robert Jordan thinks that perhaps all allies, like he and Pablo,
hate each other deep down.
As Robert Jordan awkwardly says goodbye to Maria, he has
a sense of déjà vu and feels very young. He is reminded of going
away to school for the first time. He first felt very young and
scared, but then, embarrassed by his father’s tearful good-bye,
felt very old.
Robert Jordan, Anselmo, and Agustín separate
from the rest of the group and head toward the bridge. Robert Jordan
helps Agustín set up the machine gun and advises Anselmo about how
to shoot one of the sentries. Robert Jordan takes his position and
waits for daylight.
A truck accident delays Andrés and Gomez on their journey
to General Golz’s headquarters. When they finally arrive, Gomez
recognizes André Marty, a well-known military advisor, and asks
him for help in locating General Golz. But Marty, who has become
somewhat paranoid during the war, is suspicious and orders Andrés
and Gomez arrested as Fascists.
The narrator interjects to tell us that Marty, supported
by the flawed wartime bureaucratic system, has launched a number
of ill-advised combat missions, much to General Golz’s dismay. The
narrator adds, however, that the military machine is so poorly organized
that it is unlikely that the Republican offensive could have been
stopped even if Andrés had not been delayed.
Robert Jordan’s friend Karkov finds out about the arrest,
confronts Marty, and uses his power as a well-connected journalist
to send Andrés and Gomez to headquarters. At last, Robert Jordan’s dispatch
reaches Duval, Golz’s chief of staff. Duval considers calling off
the Republican offensive even though he doesn’t officially have the
authority to do so, but ultimately he decides against it because
he doesn’t know how this offensive fits into the bigger picture
of the war. By the time Golz sees the dispatch and learns that his
attack will fail, it is too late and the bombing has already begun.
Hemingway continues to criticize the Republican leadership,
now turning his focus toward the inefficiency of their bureaucracy.
He implies, in the chapters that chronicle Andrés’s mission, that
the eventual Republican defeat was at least partly the fault of
the Republicans’ poor organization. In the course of his quest,
Andrés is delayed by apathy, suspicion, and personal vendetta—all
of which are made possible by the inefficiency and corruption of
the Republican military. Ironically, Andrés travels faster behind
enemy lines than within Republican territory, where the Republican
military organization hinders rather than helps its own cause. Lieutenant-Colonel
Miranda is more committed to the bureaucratic system than to the
cause that the system was designed to serve—an attitude that hinders
Andrés under the guise of helping him. Above all, André Marty (a
real historical figure who was the Political Commissar of the International
Brigades, a coalition of foreign volunteers), comes across as stupid,
paranoid, insecure, and corrupt. Because the influential Marty is
in a position to do the most damage, he receives Hemingway’s most
scathing critique. But even the journalist Karkov, in many ways
an admirable character, falls prey to political factionism. The
conflict between Karkov and Marty seems to be as personal as it
Just as the impersonal bureaucracy menaces Andrés’s mission,
it also menaces the simple, organic world of the guerrilleros. As
the wartime bureaucratic structures take control of towns and cities, the
local population is either swept up in the changes or left behind. Some
alter their lives, while others, like much of the gypsy population,
move in circles outside mainstream society. In either case, life close
to nature becomes impossible, and the development of military bureaucracy
heralds the end of an era. Like the Fascist planes, the military
bureaucracy menaces both the Republic and the lifestyle of its citizens.
The two interweaving narratives of this section—Andrés’s
quest to deliver the message and Robert Jordan’s quest to blow the bridge—mirror
and reinforce each other. At approximately the same time in the
night that Pablo’s reappearance boosts Robert Jordan’s cause (Chapter
Thirty-eight), Karkov unexpectedly aids Andrés’s mission (Chapter
Forty-two). Furthermore, the pattern of events that take place during
Andrés’s mission in Chapter Forty-two—a halting struggle, temporary
triumph, and final letdown—foreshadows the pattern of events that
occur when Robert Jordan attempts to blow up the bridge in Chapter
Forty-three. Hemingway structures these two sets of events to cycle,
one after the other, for dramatic and atmospheric effect. By the
time we read it, the story that unfolds in the final chapter has
already been told.
Ace your assignments with our guide to For Whom The Bell Tolls!