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Robert Jordan and Anselmo scout out the bridge. Robert
Jordan watches a sentry on the bridge through binoculars and notes
that he has a “peasant face.” Fascist planes fly overhead, but Robert
Jordan lets Anselmo think that they are Republican planes. The two
men discuss war and religion. Anselmo likes to hunt but hates killing people,
whereas Robert Jordan hates killing animals but is willing to kill
people when required. They recall that gypsies and Native Americans
both view bears as man’s brothers. Anselmo says that he misses believing
in God. Robert Jordan silently resents his mission and thinks about
On the way back, Robert Jordan and Anselmo meet Agustín, another
of Pablo’s band, who stands guard but has forgotten his half of
the password. Agustín cautions Robert Jordan to watch his explosives.
When they are alone again, Anselmo says that Agustín is trustworthy,
but Pablo is “bad.”
Back at camp, Robert Jordan brings his backpacks into
the cave, where the atmosphere is tense. Pablo says that there is
little wine left, so Robert Jordan drinks from his own flask of
absinthe. Robert Jordan meets three more band members, Primitivo
and the brothers Andrés and Eladio.
Pablo announces that he refuses to blow up the bridge.
Robert Jordan replies that he and Anselmo will do it alone. Pilar
announces that she supports the bridge operation because she supports
the Republic. The men back Pilar, and she says that she is the real
leader of the group. Pablo gives in sullenly. Robert Jordan shows
the others his plans for the bridge. Looking at Pablo, Pilar is
momentarily filled with sorrow and foreboding.
After dinner, Robert Jordan steps outside the cave into
the night air. Inside, Rafael sings a song making fun of Catalans
(members of a Spanish ethnic subgroup) but Pablo interrupts him.
Rafael joins Robert Jordan outside and says that Robert Jordan should
have killed Pablo during the confrontation earlier. Robert Jordan
says that he considered it but did not want to risk alienating the
other band members.
Meanwhile, Pablo fondly confides in one of his horses.
The narrator notes that the horse does not understand what Pablo
Back inside the cave, Pilar says that Robert Jordan is
too serious. He replies that he is anti-Fascist rather than Communist.
Then, he seems uncomfortable discussing his father’s suicide. Maria
admits that she is attracted to Robert Jordan, and he strokes her
head. In private, he asks Pilar whether he should have killed Pablo.
She assures him Pablo is no longer dangerous.
Robert Jordan sleeps in a robe outside the cave. Around
one o’clock in the morning, Maria wakes him and slips in with him
under the robe. He tries to kiss her, but she is nervous. She says
she should not sleep with him if he does not love her. He says that
he loves her, and she says that she loves him. Maria tells Robert
Jordan that she was raped several times, but that Pilar told her
that having sex with someone she loved would heal her memory of
the rape. He shows her how to kiss, and they make love.
For Whom the Bell Tolls is preoccupied
with signs and omens, and this section reveals several instances
of foreshadowing that both heighten the drama and set the tone.
Agustín’s warning to Robert Jordan to pay close attention to his
packs explicitly increases the suspense and foreshadows Pablo’s
later betrayal. In contrast, Pilar’s sense of sadness upon looking
at Pablo after the men have sworn their allegiance to her establishes
mood in a less specific manner. Both types of foreshadowing establish
an atmosphere of foreboding for the future, and both make future
events appear predictable and inevitable. In particular, Pilar’s
sense of sadness is rooted in the idea that human nature does not
change and the idea that history repeats itself. This sense of predictability
and repetitiveness contributes to the grim, ominous mood that pervades
The poignant scene between Pablo and his horse sheds more
light on the opposition between Robert Jordan’s sense of community
and Pablo’s isolation. Misunderstood and lonely, Pablo complains
to and seeks comfort from his horse, a creature that belongs to
the natural world and remains untainted by the petty struggles of
humans. As we might expect, and as the narrator subsequently reveals,
the horse does not understand Pablo. The narrator drives home Pablo’s isolation
with the revelation that the horse actually finds Pablo bothersome
and wishes he would go away. Whereas Pablo fails in his attempt
to communicate with his horse using words, Robert Jordan is successful
in his nearly wordless communication with Maria. Robert Jordan eases
the pain of Maria’s past sexual trauma, whereas the horse does nothing
to ease Pablo’s emotional burden.
Hemingway cleanly divides his moral world into characters
who are “good,” such as Robert Jordan, Anselmo, Pilar, and Agustín; and
those who are “bad,” such as Pablo. Because Hemingway reiterates
these classifications many times through many different characters,
we can rely on it to infer that “good” qualities include competence,
steady nerves, honesty with oneself, and loyalty. On the other hand,
“bad” qualities include fear, greed, pessimism, and self-delusion.
Two characters—Rafael and Maria—notably escape this moral classification.
Both Rafael, a full-blooded gypsy, and Maria, a young woman, belong
to groups that Spanish society marginalized at the time. Rafael
is repeatedly characterized as well-meaning but “worthless,” which
puts his character in an ambiguous middle ground. Similarly, Maria
comes across as a somewhat weak and flimsy character, in part because
she is a naïve young woman. In this way, Hemingway’s seemingly rigid
moral classifications exclude people who exist only on the margins
of the world he portrays.
Robert Jordan, in particular, conforms to a character
type that recurs throughout Hemingway’s novels—a character commonly referred
to as the “code hero” because he follows the Hemingway moral code.
The code hero’s most prominent characteristic is his ability to
exhibit what Hemingway called “grace under pressure.” The code hero
lives life for the present and takes his pleasure in the physical
world of food, sex, and nature. He is a man of action rather than
thought, and his greatest triumph is conquering his fear of death
and nothingness (which some critics term nada after the Spanish
word for “nothing”). Robert Jordan’s appreciation for nature and
physical experiences—the smell of the pine trees, the taste of absinthe
that evokes Paris, his coupling with Maria—indicates that he fits
the code hero type, at least to some degree. For the time being, however,
we see that Robert Jordan experiences many unresolved tensions that
he tries to work through in his head. At this point, it is unclear
whether he is a man of thought or action.
Ace your assignments with our guide to For Whom The Bell Tolls!