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Robert Jordan thinks to himself as he walks back
from Primitivo’s post. He struggles with the conflict between wanting
to follow orders and believing that the orders are useless. He remembers
his family. His mother bullied his weak father, who finally committed
suicide with the same rifle that his own father had used in the
American Civil War.
As Robert Jordan imagines a tremendous success in the
next day’s offensive, he realizes that the bridge-blowing operation
won’t be called off because those making the decision won’t be able
to help themselves from imagining the same success he imagines.
The certainty calms him down.
Robert Jordan and Maria lie in his sleeping bag together.
Maria says that she is sore, so they decide not to have intercourse,
although Robert Jordan privately thinks that this bad luck the night
before blowing up the bridge is a bad sign. Maria offers to bring
him to orgasm some other way, but he declines.
Robert Jordan says that he’d rather not talk about the
present, so they imagine their future life in Madrid. Their reverie
is briefly interrupted when Maria reveals that Pilar predicted that
they would all die tomorrow. Pilar’s indiscretion angers Robert
Maria then talks about the day she was captured. The Fascists shot
both of her parents against a wall. Her father was the mayor of their
town, and his last words were for the Republic. Maria’s mother’s
last words were about Maria’s father. The Fascists cut off Maria’s
hair, gagged her with her own braids, drew the letters UHP (Unión
de Hermanos Proletarios, a Communist association) on her forehead,
and then took her into her father’s office and took turns raping
her. Maria wants Robert Jordan to know that she struggled
the whole time, and that Pilar suggested that the violent incident
may have left Maria infertile. Robert Jordan promises that they
will get married. After she falls asleep, he calms his anger by
telling himself that both sides have committed atrocities in the
war. He wishes that they could have made love and admires Maria’s
mother’s last words.
In Madrid, Robert Jordan’s friend Karkov arrives at his
apartments at the Hotel Gaylord and greets his wife and German-speaking
mistress. Karkov finds out that the German commander has been telling everyone
about the next day’s offensive. A puffy-eyed journalist for the
Russian newspaper Izvestia informs Karkov that La Pasionaria (a
Communist orator whose real name is Dolores) has brought news that
the Fascists have been bombing their own troops near Segovia.
In conversation with a Hungarian general, Karkov
expresses annoyance with both the German commander’s and the journalist’s indiscretions.
Karkov is also concerned about Robert Jordan, whom he knows to be
working for General Golz near Segovia. The Hungarian general expects
that Robert Jordan will send a report on the bombing but does not
want to go to headquarters to check for a report because he does
not feel welcome there. Karkov goes to sleep, planning to wake up
at two in the morning to join Golz for the offensive.
At two in the morning, Pilar wakes Robert Jordan up and
tells him that Pablo has fled the camp with some of the dynamite
they were to use to blow up the bridge. Although Robert Jordan is
angry at Pilar, who was supposed to be guarding the dynamite, he
curbs his anger because she feels terrible. Pilar feels that she
has betrayed not only her promise to Robert Jordan but also the
Republic. Robert Jordan goes back to sleep, planning to wake up
Robert Jordan’s extended memories of his father and grandfather show
how the characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls must
work actively to overcome their pasts. Robert Jordan is saddened
that he never knew his grandfather, who was an admired hero in the
American Civil War, and is embarrassed by the weakness of his father, who
committed suicide. Ultimately, though, Robert Jordan does not dwell
on either. He forces himself to call his father a “coward” despite
the fact that doing so is unpleasant. He constantly works through
his memories in order to rob them of their power. Similarly, by
engaging in sexual activity with someone she loves, Maria confronts
her rape until it “is all gone.” Although it may seem odd to contemporary
readers to read about characters who suppress memories as a way
of coping with them, this ability to leave the past in the past
and live fully in the present is one of the features of Hemingway’s
code of values. As we have seen earlier, Robert Jordan avoids thinking
about the people he has killed, for guilt is not productive during
wartime. Only by actively suppressing unpleasant memories from the
past are Hemingway’s code heroes able to cope with the unpleasant
realities of the present.
Hemingway frequently describes Maria with natural, earthy imagery,
showing that she represents the pull of nature in Robert Jordan’s
life. Throughout the novel, Hemingway paints Maria in earth tones,
with hair “the golden brown of a grain field,” “breasts like small
hills,” and a belly button like a well on a plain. These images
demonstrate Maria’s strong, organic connection to the earth. Indeed,
it is during his sexual experience with Maria that the earth moves
for Robert Jordan. One critic suggests that the earthy imagery indicates
that Maria is the Spanish land, raped and pillaged by warring forces
beyond her comprehension, yet always loving and soothing. Robert
Jordan’s communion with Maria, then, is also a communion with his
chosen country. His progression from isolation at the beginning
of the novel toward a full union with Maria by the end is a journey
toward a fertile, earthy affirmation of life, guided by instinct
rather than reason.
In the chapter set at the Hotel Gaylord, Hemingway criticizes
the Republican leadership, whose apathy, incompetence, and factionalism
bears a large part of the blame for the Republicans’ eventual defeat.
Accordingly, Hemingway portrays his Republican high society characters
as uncaring, gossipy, self-indulgent, and stupid. The setting in
a fancy hotel contrasts starkly with the cave where Robert Jordan
and the guerrilleros sleep, implying that Republican leaders don’t
care about the conditions of their own people. We also see this lack
of involvement in the Hungarian general: he says he could go to headquarters
and find out whether Robert Jordan has sent word, but he doesn’t
like headquarters and consequently won’t go. The general’s apathy
seals the fate of Robert Jordan as well as countless others. Even
those characters who are not apathetic care about the wrong things.
The dramatic irony in La Pasionaria’s story is that the Fascists
actually bombed El Sordo, not their own troops. But the puffy-eyed
journalist focuses on La Pasionaria’s theatricality rather than
on the misinterpreted content of the story. In the end, the chapter
leaves us with the impression that the guerrilleros are the only ones
on the Republican side who truly know what is taking place in the
war, while the Republican leadership is frustratingly out of touch.
We find ourselves asking the same question Hemingway and Robert
Jordan ask: “Have there ever been people more betrayed by their
Ace your assignments with our guide to For Whom The Bell Tolls!