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Andrés rides through the night to deliver Robert Jordan’s
dispatch to General Golz. He thinks about his feeling of relief
when Robert Jordan asked him to deliver his message—relief because
killing thrills Andrés in a way that embarrasses him. He
remembers having the same feeling of exhilaration and embarrassment
on his town’s annual bull-baiting day, in which, by tradition, he
was expected to bite the bull by the ear. He also remembers feeling
the same sense of relief if the bull-baiting ever was canceled.
Andrés arrives at a checkpoint.
Robert Jordan lies next to Maria, seething with
anger at Pablo and reproaching himself for letting Pablo steal from
his packs. He forces himself to let go of his anger. Calm, he thinks
about how to blow up the bridge without enough people, horses, or
weapons, and now without the mechanism for properly detonating the
dynamite. Robert Jordan whispers to the sleeping Maria that they
can still finish the mission. They will all be killed, he thinks,
but they will complete their task. He tells Maria that a good night’s
sleep will be her wedding present.
At the checkpoint, the guards challenge, insult, and threaten
to shoot Andrés. After much wrangling, Andrés finally convinces
them that his mission is legitimate. One of the guards takes Andrés’s
gun and escorts him down the hill.
Robert Jordan and Maria lie in bed just before three in
the morning. He licks her ear, and she wakes up. They make love,
and once again they experience a simultaneous orgasm and feel the
earth move. Maria calls this state “la gloria.” They talk about
how lucky they are to have found each other. Robert Jordan thinks
that these people—Maria, Pilar, Anselmo, Agustín—are his family,
and that he has been here at the fort his whole life. He thinks
about how much he has learned.
Before dawn, the guerrilla fighters eat breakfast and
nervously prepare for the attack later that day. Robert Jordan plans
to use hand grenades to make up for the stolen explosives. He thinks
that they have too few men and that the attack will fail. He struggles
to overcome his anger at Pablo. Pilar tells Robert Jordan that she
cares about him very much and that he should forget about how troubled she
seemed after reading his palm.
Pablo suddenly returns to the camp. He has thrown the
explosives he stole into the river but has brought five men with
their horses from neighboring guerrilla bands. He explains that
he left in a moment of weakness and that he felt great loneliness
after he threw the explosives in the river. Although Pilar compares
Pablo to Judas Iscariot (the biblical apostle who betrays Jesus),
both Pilar and Robert Jordan are relieved that Pablo has returned.
Having packed up the camp, the guerrilla fighters begin
to take their positions for the bridge operation. Though Robert
Jordan doesn’t believe in luck, he takes Pablo’s return as a positive
sign. He engages in brief conversations with Pablo and Maria. Pilar
recognizes and greets two of the five men that have come with Pablo.
Robert Jordan’s competent behavior under difficult circumstances in
this section fits him in to a line of Hemingway protagonists who exhibit
what Hemingway calls “grace under pressure.” Nowhere more than here
does Robert Jordan display this virtue of the code hero. With Pablo
gone and the explosives stolen, Robert Jordan manages to control
his anger and apply himself to solving the new, more difficult problem
of destroying the bridge with less manpower and fewer explosives.
Always supremely pragmatic, Robert Jordan neither dwells on the
past nor fears the future but instead concentrates on the present
situation. This focus on the present allows him to savor fully the
physical pleasures that fate grants him—the smell of pine trees,
the taste of absinthe, sex with Maria. It also enables him not to
fear death, which is the code hero’s true antagonist. Ultimately,
Robert Jordan’s level-headedness is the only force that holds the
guerrilleros together in the face of daunting odds.
The words “now” and “one,” which dominate Robert Jordan’s consciousness
during his lovemaking with Maria on the morning of the attack, point
to his appreciation of life in the present and the wholeness of
their communion with each other. The present “now” is the only time
that he has with Maria, for they barely have a past, and the future
is uncertain. Robert Jordan frequently thinks that he is living
his whole, full life in the seventy hours portrayed in For Whom
the Bell Tolls. When focusing on the present, Robert Jordan sees
the “now” as representing “now and before and always.” He stops
thinking about the future and the probability of his death—in a
sense, he transcends death and becomes temporarily immortal. This
immortality becomes possible through Maria’s idea that Robert Jordan
and she are “one” person. And indeed, the word “one” pervades their
conversation after sex. Robert Jordan and Maria’s communion is complete,
blessed and sealed by the natural forces that move the earth. Robert
Jordan’s new feelings—his growing thoughts about the concept of
“now” and his feeling of being “one” with Maria—are rather non-scientific
and non-rational. As the novel draws to its close, we see that Robert
Jordan gradually moves toward accepting and embracing Pilar’s brand
of mysticism and supernatural wisdom.
Hemingway’s description of Andrés baiting the bull emphasizes the
connection between death and sex in the novel. Andrés remembers
how “he lay on the hot, dusty, bristly, tossing slope of the muscle,
the ear clenched tight in his teeth, and drove his knife again and again
and again into the swelling, tossing bulge of the neck that was now
spouting hot on his fist.” The strong sexual overtones are unmistakable,
especially in “spouting hot” and “again and again and again,” which
echoes the rhythm of the passages about Robert Jordan and Maria’s
lovemaking. The high that Andrés experiences after bull-baiting
is a sexual one, which explains both its addictiveness and the sense
of shame that accompanies it. Importantly, the realm in which Andrés
gained his experience in killing—bull-baiting—was a relatively controlled
environment. The experience of killing under his belt, Andrés knows
how to recognize the urge to kill and consequently how to control
it. But Pablo’s first experience with killing was the massacre of
the Fascists in his town. He never had the opportunity to face his
cruelty in a controlled environment and never learned to control
his passions, which makes him dangerous. In connecting bloodlust
and sexual lust in this manner throughout the novel, Hemingway implies
that the desire for violence is as common a sensation as sexual
desire—a bold statement about human nature.
Ace your assignments with our guide to For Whom The Bell Tolls!