The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan's love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo's last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise. "If the function of a writer is to reveal reality," Maxwell Perkins wrote Hemingway after reading the manuscript, "no one ever so completely performed it." Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author's previous works, it stands as one of the best war novels of all time.
About the Author
Date of Birth:July 21, 1899
Date of Death:July 2, 1961
Place of Birth:Oak Park, Illinois
Place of Death:Ketchum, Idaho
Read an Excerpt
He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees. The mountainside sloped gently where he lay; but below it was steep and he could see the dark of the oiled road winding through the pass. There was a stream alongside the road and far down the pass he saw a mill beside the stream and the falling water of the dam, white in the summer sunlight.
"Is that the mill?" he asked.
"I do not remember it."
"It was built since you were here. The old mill is farther down; much below the pass."
He spread the photostated military map out on the forest floor and looked at it carefully. The old man looked over his shoulder. He was a short and solid old man in a black peasant's smock and gray iron-stiff trousers and he wore rope-soled shoes. He was breathing heavily from the climb and his hand rested on one of the two heavy packs they had been carrying.
"Then you cannot see the bridge from here."
"No," the old man said. "This is the easy country of the pass where the stream flows gently. Below, where the road turns out of sight in the trees, it drops suddenly and there is a steep gorge "
"Across this gorge is the bridge."
"And where are their posts?"
"There is a post at the mill that you see there."
The young man, who was studying the country, took his glasses from the pocket of his faded, khaki flannel shirt, wiped the lenses with a handkerchief, screwed the eyepieces around until the boards of the mill showed suddenly clearly and he saw the wooden bench beside the door; the huge pile of sawdust that rose behind the open shed where the circular saw was, and a stretch of the flume that brought the logs down from the mountainside on the other bank of the stream. The stream showed clear and smooth-looking in the glasses and, below the curl of the falling water, the spray from the dam was blowing in the wind.
"There is no sentry."
"There is smoke coming from the millhouse," the old man said. "There are also clothes hanging on a line."
"I see them but I do not see any sentry."
"Perhaps he is in the shade," the old man explained. "It is hot there now. He would be in the shadow at the end we do not see."
"Probably. Where is the next post?"
"Below the bridge. It is at the roadmender's hut at kilometer five from the top of the pass."
"How many men are here?" He pointed at the mill.
"Perhaps four and a corporal."
"More. I will find out."
"And at the bridge?"
"Always two. One at each end."
"We will need a certain number of men," he said. "How many men can you get?"
"I can bring as many men as you wish," the old man said. "There are many men now here in the hills."
"There are more than a hundred. But they are in small bands. How many men will you need?"
"I will let you know when we have studied the bridge."
"Do you wish to study it now?"
"No. Now I wish to go to where we will hide this explosive until it is time. I would like to have it hidden in utmost security at a distance no greater than half an hour from the bridge, if that is possible."
"That is simple," the old man said. "From where we are going, it will all be downhill to the bridge. But now we must climb a little in seriousness to get there. Are you hungry?"
"Yes," the young man said. "But we will eat later. How are you called? I have forgotten." It was a bad sign to him that he had forgotten.
"Anselmo," the old man said. "I am called Anselmo and I come from Barco de Avila. Let me help you with that pack."
The young man, who was tall and thin, with sun-streaked fair hair, and a wind- and sun-burned face, who wore the sun-faded flannel shirt, a pair of peasant's trousers and rope-soled shoes, leaned over, put his arm through one of the leather pack straps and swung the heavy pack up onto his shoulders. He worked his arm through the other strap and settled the weight of the pack against his back. His shirt was still wet from where the pack had rested.
"I have it up now," he said. "How do we go?"
"We climb," Anselmo said.
Bending under the weight of the packs, sweating, they climbed steadily in the pine forest that covered the mountainside. There was no trail that the young man could see, but they were working up and around the face of the mountain and now they crossed a small stream and the old man went steadily on ahead up the edge of the rocky stream bed. The climbing now was steeper and more difficult, until finally the stream seemed to drop down over the edge of a smooth granite ledge that rose above them and the old man waited at the foot of the ledge for the young man to come up to him.
"How are you making it?"
"All right," the young man said. He was sweating heavily and his thigh muscles were twitchy from the steepness of the climb.
"Wait here now for me. I go ahead to warn them. You do not want to be shot at carrying that stuff."
"Not even in a joke," the young man said. "Is it far?"
"It is very close. How do they call thee?"
"Roberto," the young man answered. He had slipped the pack off and lowered it gently down between two boulders by the stream bed.
"Wait here, then, Roberto, and I will return for you."
"Good," the young man said. "But do you plan to go down this way to the bridge?"
"No. When we go to the bridge it will be by another way. Shorter and easier."
"I do not want this material to be stored too far from the bridge."
"You will see. If you are not satisfied, we will take another place."
"We will see," the young man said.
He sat by the packs and watched the old man climb the ledge. It was not hard to climb and from the way he found hand-holds without searching for them the young man could see that he had climbed it many times before. Yet whoever was above had been very careful not to leave any trail.
The young man, whose name was Robert Jordan, was extremely hungry and he was worried. He was often hungry but he was not usually worried because he did not give any importance to what happened to himself and he knew from experience how simple it was to move behind the enemy lines in all this country. It was as simple to move behind them as it was to cross through them, if you had a good guide. It was only giving importance to what happened to you if you were caught that made it difficult; that and deciding whom to trust. You had to trust the people you worked with completely or not at all, and you had to make decisions about the trusting. He was not worried about any of that. But there were other things.
This Anselmo had been a good guide and he could travel wonderfully in the mountains. Robert Jordan could walk well enough himself and he knew from following him since before daylight that the old man could walk him to death. Robert Jordan trusted the man, Anselmo, so far, in everything except judgment. He had not yet had an opportunity to test his judgment, and, anyway, the judgment was his own responsibility. No, he did not worry about Anselmo and the problem of the bridge was no more difficult than many other problems. He knew how to blow any sort of bridge that you could name and he had blown them of all sizes and constructions. There was enough explosive and all equipment in the two packs to blow this bridge properly even if it were twice as big as Anselmo reported it, as he remembered it when he had walked over it on his way to La Granja on a walking trip in 1933, and as Golz had read him the description of it night before last in that upstairs room in the house outside of the Escorial.
"To blow the bridge is nothing," Golz had said, the lamplight on his scarred, shaved head, pointing with a pencil on the big map. "You understand?"
"Yes, I understand."
"Absolutely nothing. Merely to blow the bridge is a failure."
"Yes, Comrade General."
"To blow the bridge at a stated hour based on the time set for the attack is how it should be done. You see that naturally. That is your right and how it should be done."
Golz looked at the pencil, then tapped his teeth with it.
Robert Jordan had said nothing.
"You understand that is your right and how it should be done," Golz went on, looking at him and nodding his head. He tapped on the map now with the pencil. "That is how I should do it. That is what we cannot have."
"Why, Comrade General?"
"Why?" Golz said, angrily. "How many attacks have you seen and you ask me why? What is to guarantee that my orders are not changed? What is to guarantee that the attack is not annulled? What is to guarantee that the attack is not postponed? What is to guarantee that it starts within six hours of when it should start? Has any attack ever been as it should?"
"It will start on time if it is your attack," Robert Jordan said.
"They are never my attacks," Golz said. "I make them. But they are not mine. The artillery is not mine. I must put in for it. I have never been given what I ask for even when they have it to give. That is the least of it. There are other things. You know how those people are. It is not necessary to go into all of it. Always there is something. Always some one will interfere. So now be sure you understand."
"So when is the bridge to be blown?" Robert Jordan had asked.
"After the attack starts. As soon as the attack has started and not before. So that no reinforcements will come up over that road." He pointed with his pencil. "I must know that nothing will come up over that road."
"And when is the attack?"
"I will tell you. But you are to use the date and hour only as an indication of a probability. You must be ready for that time. You will blow the bridge after the attack has started. You see?" he indicated with the pencil. "That is the only road on which they can bring up reinforcements. That is the only road on which they can get up tanks, or artillery, or even move a truck toward the pass which I attack. I must know that bridge is gone. Not before, so it can be repaired if the attack is postponed. No. It must go when the attack starts and I must know it is gone. There are only two sentries. The man who will go with you has just come from there. He is a very reliable man, they say. You will see. He has people in the mountains. Get as many men as you need. Use as few as possible, but use enough. I do not have to tell you these things."
"And how do I determine that the attack has started?"
"It is to be made with a full division. There will be an aerial bombardment as preparation. You are not deaf, are you?"
"Then I may take it that when the planes unload, the attack has started?"
"You could not always take it like that," Golz said and shook his head. "But in this case, you may. It is my attack."
"I understand it," Robert Jordan had said. "I do not say I like it very much."
"Neither do I like it very much. If you do not want to undertake it, say so now. If you think you cannot do it, say so now."
"I will do it," Robert Jordan had said. "I will do it all right."
"That is all I have to know," Golz said. "That nothing comes up over that bridge. That is absolute."
"I do not like to ask people to do such things and in such a way," Golz went on. "I could not order you to do it. I understand what you may be forced to do through my putting such conditions. I explain very carefully so that you understand and that you understand all of the possible difficulties and the importance."
"And how will you advance on La Granja if that bridge is
"We go forward prepared to repair it after we have stormed the pass. It is a very complicated and beautiful operation. As complicated and as beautiful as always. The plan has been manufactured in Madrid. It is another of Vicente Rojo, the unsuccessful professor's, masterpieces. I make the attack and I make it, as always, not in sufficient force. It is a very possible operation, in spite of that. I am much happier about it than usual. It can be successful with that bridge eliminated. We can take Segovia. Look, I show you how it goes. You see? It is not the top of the pass where we attack. We hold that. It is much beyond. Look Here Like this "
"I would rather not know," Robert Jordan said.
"Good," said Golz. "It is less of baggage to carry with you on the other side, yes?"
"I would always rather not know. Then, no matter what can happen, it was not me that talked."
"It is better not to know," Golz stroked his forehead with the pencil. "Many times I wish I did not know myself. But you do know the one thing you must know about the bridge?"
"Yes. I know that."
"I believe you do," Golz said. "I will not make you any little speech. Let us now have a drink. So much talking makes me very thirsty, Comrade Hordan. You have a funny name in Spanish, Comrade Hordown."
"How do you say Golz in Spanish, Comrade General?"
"Hotze," said Golz grinning, making the sound deep in his throat as though hawking with a bad cold. "Hotze," he croaked. "Comrade Heneral Khotze. If I had known how they pronounced Golz in Spanish I would pick me out a better name before I come to war here. When I think I come to command a division and I can pick out any name I want and I pick out Hotze. Heneral Hotze. Now it is too late to change. How do you like partizan work?" It was the Russian term for guerilla work behind the
"Very much," Robert Jordan said. He grinned. "It is very healthy in the open air."
"I like it very much when I was your age, too," Golz said. "They tell me you blow bridges very well. Very scientific. It is only hearsay. I have never seen you do anything myself. Maybe nothing ever happens really. You really blow them?" he was teasing now. "Drink this," he handed the glass of Spanish brandy to Robert Jordan. "You really blow them?"
"You better not have any sometimes on this bridge. No, let us not talk any more about this bridge. You understand enough now about that bridge. We are very serious so we can make very strong jokes. Look, do you have many girls on the other side of the lines?"
"No, there is no time for girls."
"I do not agree. The more irregular the service, the more irregular the life. You have very irregular service. Also you need a haircut."
"I have my hair cut as it needs it," Robert Jordan said. He would be damned if he would have his head shaved like Golz. "I have enough to think about without girls," he said sullenly.
"What sort of uniform am I supposed to wear?" Robert Jordan asked.
"None," Golz said. "Your haircut is all right. I tease you. You are very different from me," Golz had said and filled up the glasses again.
"You never think about only girls. I never think at all. Why should I? I am Général Sovietique. I never think. Do not try to trap me into thinking."
Some one on his staff, sitting on a chair working over a map on a drawing board, growled at him in the language Robert Jordan did not understand.
"Shut up," Golz had said, in English. "I joke if I want. I am so serious is why I can joke. Now drink this and then go. You understand, huh?"
"Yes," Robert Jordan had said. "I understand."
They had shaken hands and he had saluted and gone out to the staff car where the old man was waiting asleep and in that car they had ridden over the road past Guadarrama, the old man still asleep, and up the Navacerrada road to the Alpine Club hut where he, Robert Jordan, slept for three hours before they started.
That was the last he had seen of Golz with his strange white face that never tanned, his hawk eyes, the big nose and thin lips and the shaven head crossed with wrinkles and with scars. Tomorrow night they would be outside the Escorial in the dark along the road; the long lines of trucks loading the infantry in the darkness; the men, heavy loaded, climbing up into the trucks; the machine-gun sections lifting their guns into the trucks; the tanks being run up on the skids onto the long-bodied tank trucks; pulling the Division out to move them in the night for the attack on the pass. He would not think about that. That was not his business. That was Golz's business. He had only one thing to do and that was what he should think about and he must think it out clearly and take everything as it came along, and not worry. To worry was as bad as to be afraid. It simply made things more difficult.
He sat now by the stream watching the clear water flowing between the rocks and, across the stream, he noticed there was a thick bed of watercress. He crossed the stream, picked a double handful, washed the muddy roots clean in the current and then sat down again beside his pack and ate the clean, cool green leaves and the crisp, peppery-tasting stalks. He knelt by the stream and, pushing his automatic pistol around on his belt to the small of his back so that it would not be wet, he lowered himself with a hand on each of two boulders and drank from the stream. The water was achingly cold.
Pushing himself up on his hands he turned his head and saw the old man coming down the ledge. With him was another man, also in a black peasant's smock and the dark gray trousers that were almost a uniform in that province, wearing rope-soled shoes and with a carbine slung over his back. This man was bareheaded. The two of them came scrambling down the rock like goats.
They came up to him and Robert Jordan got to his feet.
"Salud, Camarada," he said to the man with the carbine and smiled.
"Salud," the other said, grudgingly. Robert Jordan looked at the man's heavy, beard-stubbled face. It was almost round and his head was round and set close on his shoulders. His eyes were small and set too wide apart and his ears were small and set close to his head. He was a heavy man about five feet ten inches tall and his hands and feet were large. His nose had been broken and his mouth was cut at one corner and the line of the scar across the upper lip and lower jaw showed through the growth of beard over his face.
The old man nodded his head at this man and smiled.
"He is the boss here," he grinned, then flexed his arms as though to make the muscles stand out and looked at the man with the carbine in a half-mocking admiration. "A very strong man."
"I can see it," Robert Jordan said and smiled again. He did not like the look of this man and inside himself he was not smiling at all.
"What have you to justify your identity?" asked the man with the carbine.
Robert Jordan unpinned a safety pin that ran through his pocket flap and took a folded paper out of the left breast pocket of his flannel shirt and handed it to the man, who opened it, looked at it doubtfully and turned it in his hands.
So he cannot read, Robert Jordan noted.
"Look at the seal," he said.
The old man pointed to the seal and the man with the carbine studied it, turning it in his fingers.
"What seal is that?"
"Have you never seen it?"
"There are two," said Robert Jordan. "One is S. I. M., the service of the military intelligence. The other is the General Staff."
"Yes, I have seen that seal before. But here no one commands but me," the other said sullenly. "What have you in the packs?"
"Dynamite," the old man said proudly. "Last night we crossed the lines in the dark and all day we have carried this dynamite over the mountain."
"I can use dynamite," said the man with the carbine. He handed back the paper to Robert Jordan and looked him over. "Yes. I have use for dynamite. How much have you brought me?"
"I have brought you no dynamite," Robert Jordan said to him evenly. "The dynamite is for another purpose. What is your name?"
"What is that to you?"
"He is Pablo," said the old man. The man with the carbine looked at them both sullenly.
"Good. I have heard much good of you," said Robert Jordan.
"What have you heard of me?" asked Pablo.
"I have heard that you are an excellent guerilla leader, that you are loyal to the republic and prove your loyalty through your acts, and that you are a man both serious and valiant. I bring you greetings from the General Staff."
"Where did you hear all this?" asked Pablo. Robert Jordan registered that he was not taking any of the flattery.
"I heard it from Buitrago to the Escorial," he said, naming all the stretch of country on the other side of the lines.
"I know no one in Buitrago nor in Escorial," Pablo told him.
"There are many people on the other side of the mountains who were not there before. Where are you from?"
"Avila. What are you going to do with the dynamite?"
"Blow up a bridge."
"That is my business."
"If it is in this territory, it is my business. You cannot blow bridges close to where you live. You must live in one place and operate in another. I know my business. One who is alive, now, after a year, knows his business."
"This is my business," Robert Jordan said. "We can discuss it together. Do you wish to help us with the sacks?"
"No," said Pablo and shook his head.
The old man turned toward him suddenly and spoke rapidly and furiously in a dialect that Robert Jordan could just follow. It was like reading Quevedo. Anselmo was speaking old Castilian and it went something like this, "Art thou a brute? Yes. Art thou a beast? Yes, many times. Hast thou a brain? Nay. None. Now we come for something of consummate importance and thee, with thy dwelling place to be undisturbed, puts thy fox-hole before the interests of humanity. Before the interests of thy people. I this and that in the this and that of thy father. I this and that and that in thy this. Pick up that bag."
Pablo looked down.
"Every one has to do what he can do according to how it can be truly done," he said. "I live here and I operate beyond Segovia. If you make a disturbance here, we will be hunted out of these mountains. It is only by doing nothing here that we are able to live in these mountains. It is the principle of the fox."
"Yes," said Anselmo bitterly. "It is the principle of the fox when we need the wolf."
"I am more wolf than thee," Pablo said and Robert Jordan knew that he would pick up the sack.
"Hi. Ho...." Anselmo looked at him. "Thou art more wolf than me and I am sixty-eight years old."
He spat on the ground and shook his head.
"You have that many years?" Robert Jordan asked, seeing that now, for the moment, it would be all right and trying to make it go easier.
"Sixty-eight in the month of July."
"If we should ever see that month," said Pablo. "Let me help you with the pack," he said to Robert Jordan. "Leave the other to the old man." He spoke, not sullenly, but almost sadly now. "He is an old man of great strength."
"I will carry the pack," Robert Jordan said.
"Nay," said the old man. "Leave it to this other strong man."
"I will take it," Pablo told him, and in his sullenness there was a sadness that was disturbing to Robert Jordan. He knew that sadness and to see it here worried him.
"Give me the carbine then," he said and when Pablo handed it to him, he slung it over his back and, with the two men climbing ahead of him, they went heavily, pulling and climbing up the granite shelf and over its upper edge to where there was a green clearing in the forest.
They skirted the edge of the little meadow and Robert Jordan, striding easily now without the pack, the carbine pleasantly rigid over his shoulder after the heavy, sweating pack weight, noticed that the grass was cropped down in several places and signs that picket pins had been driven into the earth. He could see a trail through the grass where horses had been led to the stream to drink and there was the fresh manure of several horses. They picket them here to feed at night and keep them out of sight in the timber in the daytime, he thought. I wonder how many horses this Pablo has?
He remembered now noticing, without realizing it, that Pablo's trousers were worn soapy shiny in the knees and thighs. I wonder if he has a pair of boots or if he rides in those alpargatas, he thought. He must have quite an outfit. But I don't like that sadness, he thought. That sadness is bad. That's the sadness they get before they quit or before they betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out.
Ahead of them a horse whinnied in the timber and then, through the brown trunks of the pine trees, only a little sunlight coming down through their thick, almost-touching tops, he saw the corral made by roping around the tree trunks. The horses had their heads pointed toward the men as they approached, and at the foot of a tree, outside the corral, the saddles were piled together and covered with a tarpaulin.
As they came up, the two men with the packs stopped, and Robert Jordan knew it was for him to admire the horses.
"Yes," he said. "They are beautiful." He turned to Pablo. "You have your cavalry and all."
There were five horses in the rope corral, three bays, a sorrel, and a buckskin. Sorting them out carefully with his eyes after he had seen them first together, Robert Jordan looked them over individually. Pablo and Anselmo knew how good they were and while Pablo stood now proud and less sad-looking, watching them lovingly, the old man acted as though they were some great surprise that he had produced, suddenly, himself.
"How do they look to you?" he asked.
"All these I have taken," Pablo said and Robert Jordan was pleased to hear him speak proudly.
"That," said Robert Jordan, pointing to one of the bays, a big stallion with a white blaze on his forehead and a single white foot, the near front, "is much horse."
He was a beautiful horse that looked as though he had come out of a painting by Velásquez.
"They are all good," said Pablo. "You know horses?"
"Less bad," said Pablo. "Do you see a defect in one of these?"
Robert Jordan knew that now his papers were being examined by the man who could not read.
arThe horses all still had their heads up looking at the man. Robert Jordan slipped through between the double rope of the corral and slapped the buckskin on the haunch. He leaned back against the ropes of the enclosure and watched the horses circle the corral, stood watching them a minute more, as they stood still, then leaned down and came out through the ropes.
"The sorrel is lame in the off hind foot," he said to Pablo, not looking at him. "The hoof is split and although it might not get worse soon if shod properly, she could break down if she travels over much hard ground."
"The hoof was like that when we took her," Pablo said.
"The best horse that you have, the white-faced bay stallion, has a swelling on the upper part of the cannon bone that I do not like."
"It is nothing," said Pablo. "He knocked it three days ago. If it were to be anything it would have become so already."
He pulled back the tarpaulin and showed the saddles. There were two ordinary vaquero's or herdsman's saddles, like American stock saddles, one very ornate vaquero's saddle, with hand-tooled leather and heavy, hooded stirrups, and two military saddles in black leather.
"We killed a pair of guardia civil," he said, explaining the military saddles.
"That is big game."
"They had dismounted on the road between Segovia and Santa Maria del Real. They had dismounted to ask papers of the driver of a cart. We were able to kill them without injuring the horses."
"Have you killed many civil guards?" Robert Jordan asked.
"Several," Pablo said. "But only these two without injury to the horses."
"It was Pablo who blew up the train at Arevalo," Anselmo said. "That was Pablo."
"There was a foreigner with us who made the explosion," Pablo said. "Do you know him?"
"What is he called?"
"I do not remember. It was a very rare name."
"What did he look like?"
"He was fair, as you are, but not as tall and with large hands and a broken nose."
"Kashkin," Robert Jordan said. "That would be Kashkin."
"Yes," said Pablo. "It was a very rare name. Something like that. What has become of him?"
"He is dead since April."
"That is what happens to everybody," Pablo said, gloomily. "That is the way we will all finish."
"That is the way all men end," Anselmo said. "That is the way men have always ended. What is the matter with you, man? What hast thou in the stomach?"
"They are very strong," Pablo said. It was as though he were talking to himself. He looked at the horses gloomily. "You do not realize how strong they are. I see them always stronger, always better armed. Always with more material. Here am I with horses like these. And what can I look forward to? To be hunted and to die. Nothing more."
"You hunt as much as you are hunted," Anselmo said.
"No," said Pablo. "Not any more. And if we leave these mountains now, where can we go? Answer me that? Where now?"
"in Spain there are many mountains. There are the Sierra de Gredos if one leaves here."
"Not for me," Pablo said. "I am tired of being hunted. Here we are all right. Now if you blow a bridge here, we will be hunted. If they know we are here and hunt for us with planes, they will find us. If they send Moors to hunt us out, they will find us and we must go. I am tired of all this. You hear?" He turned to Robert Jordan. "What right have you, a foreigner, to come to me and tell me what I must do?"
"I have not told you anything you must do," Robert Jordan said to him.
"You will though," Pablo said. "There. There is the badness."
He pointed at the two heavy packs that they had lowered to the ground while they had watched the horses. Seeing the horses had seemed to bring this all to a head in him and seeing that Robert Jordan knew horses had seemed to loosen his tongue. The three of them stood now by the rope corral and the patchy sunlight shone on the coat of the bay stallion. Pablo looked at him and then pushed with his foot against the heavy pack. "There is the badness."
"I come only for my duty," Robert Jordan told him. "I come under orders from those who are conducting the war. If I ask you to help me, you can refuse and I will find others who will help me. I have not even asked you for help yet. I have to do what I am ordered to do and I can promise you of its importance. That I am a foreigner is not my fault. I would rather have been born here."
"To me, now, the most important is that we be not disturbed here," Pablo said. "To me, now, my duty is to those who are with me and to myself."
"Thyself. Yes," Anselmo said. "Thyself now since a long time. Thyself and thy horses. Until thou hadst horses thou wert with us. Now thou art another capitalist more."
"That is unjust," said Pablo. "I expose the horses all the time for the cause."
"Very little," said Anselmo scornfully. "Very little in my judgment. To steal, yes. To eat well, yes. To murder, yes. To fight, no."
"You are an old man who will make himself trouble with his mouth."
"I am an old man who is afraid of no one," Anselmo told him. "Also I am an old man without horses."
"You are an old man who may not live long."
"I am an old man who will live until I die," Anselmo said. "And I am not afraid of foxes."
Pablo said nothing but picked up the pack.
"Nor of wolves either," Anselmo said, picking up the other pack. "If thou art a wolf."
"Shut thy mouth," Pablo said to him. "Thou art an old man who always talks too much."
"And would do whatever he said he would do," Anselmo said, bent under the pack. "And who now is hungry. And thirsty. Go on, guerilla leader with the sad face. Lead us to something to eat."
It is starting badly enough, Robert Jordan thought. But Anselmo's a man. They are wonderful when they are good, he thought. There is no people like them when they are good and when they go bad there is no people that is worse. Anselmo must have known what he was doing when he brought us here. But I don't like it. I don't like any of it.
The only good sign was that Pablo was carrying the pack and that he had given him the carbine. Perhaps he is always like that, Robert Jordan thought. Maybe he is just one of the gloomy ones.
No, he said to himself, don't fool yourself. You do not know how he was before; but you do know that he is going bad fast and without hiding it. When he starts to hide it he will have made a decision. Remember that, he told himself. The first friendly thing he does, he will have made a decision. They are awfully good horses, though, he thought, beautiful horses. I wonder what could make me feel the way those horses make Pablo feel. The old man was right. The horses made him rich and as soon as he was rich he wanted to enjoy life. Pretty soon he'll feel bad because he can't join the Jockey Club, I guess, he thought. Pauvre Pablo. Il a manqué son Jockey.
That idea made him feel better. He grinned, looking at the two bent backs and the big packs ahead of him moving through the trees. He had not made any jokes with himself all day and now that he had made one he felt much better. You're getting to be as all the rest of them, he told himself. You're getting gloomy, too. He'd certainly been solemn and gloomy with Golz. The job had overwhelmed him a little. Slightly overwhelmed, he thought. Plenty overwhelmed. Golz was gay and he had wanted him to be gay too before he left, but he hadn't been.
All the best ones, when you thought it over, were gay. It was much better to be gay and it was a sign of something too. It was like having immortality while you were still alive. That was a complicated one. There were not many of them left though. No, there were not many of the gay ones left. There were very damned few of them left. And if you keep on thinking like that, my boy, you won't be left either. Turn off the thinking now, old timer, old comrade. You're a bridge-blower now. Not a thinker. Man, I'm hungry, he thought. I hope Pablo eats well.
Copyright © 1940 by Ernest Hemingway.
Copyright renewed © 1968 by Mary Hemingway.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Guide for For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ernest Hemingway was born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. After graduation from high school, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked briefly for the Kansas City Star. Failing to qualify for the United States Army because of poor eyesight, he enlisted with the American Red Cross to drive ambulances in Italy. He was severely wounded on the Austrian front on July 9, 1918. Following recuperation in a Milan hospital, he returned home and became a freelance writer for the Toronto Star.
In December of 1921, he sailed to France and joined an expatriate community of writers and artists in Paris while continuing to write for the Toronto Star. There his fiction career began in "little magazines" and small presses and led to a volume of short stories, In Our Time (1925). His novels The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929) established Hemingway as the most important and influential fiction writer of his generation. His later collections of short stories and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) affirmed his extraordinary career while his highly publicized life gave him unrivaled celebrity as a literary figure.
Hemingway became an authority on the subjects of his art: trout fishing, bullfighting, big-game hunting, and deep-sea fishing, and the cultures of the regions in which he set his work France, Italy, Spain, Cuba, and Africa.
The Old Man and the Sea (1952) earned him the Pulitzer Prize and was instrumental in his being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954. Hemingway died in Ketchum, Idaho, on July 2, 1961.
Robert Jordan, a Spanish professor from Montana serving with Loyalist guerrilla forces during the Spanish Civil War, is guided by the old man Anselmo to Pablo's guerrilla band in the mountains above a bridge which Jordan must blow up when the Loyalist offensive begins. Pablo, aware that Jordan's mission will invite fascist forces, refuses at first to participate, but relents, returning with additional men and horses shortly before the mission begins. Knowing that the fascists are aware of the offensive, Jordan sends a message to General Golz, hoping the offensive will be canceled, but the message arrives too late. Jordan blows the bridge, and Anselmo is killed by flying steel. As the group attempts escape, Jordan is seriously injured, and Maria, having been told by Jordan that he will always be with her, leaves with the survivors while Jordan remains behind, waiting for death.
1. Is Pablo opposed to blowing the bridge because he is a coward, as Pilar says, or is Pablo, himself, correct when he says he "has a tactical sense"? Why does Jordan agree with Pablo's reference to "the seriousness of this" (p. 54)? Is Agustín correct when he calls Pablo "very smart" (p. 94)?
2. Was the communist effort to eliminate God successful? What does Anselmo's view of killing suggest about the limitations of dogma? What does he mean when he says of the bridge sentries, "It is only orders that come between us" (pp. 192-193)? What is implied when Anselmo says soldiers should atone and cleanse themselves after the war?
3. "Time" is a major theme in For Whom the Bell Tolls. How does Pilar's awareness of time affect her attitude toward Robert Jordan's and Maria's relationship? What conclusions does Robert Jordan draw about his own life during the very short time he spends with Maria?
4. Pablo calls his compatriots "illusioned people" (p. 215). Does this remark prove to be true? Does Jordan expose illusions? Does For Whom the Bell Tolls suggest that because of their illusions and vulnerability to exploitation the victims of the war were the entire Spanish people?
5. Does the epigraph, an excerpt from John Donne's Devotions XVII, convey the theme of For Whom the Bell Tolls? What is that theme? What scenes in the novel develop the sentiment of the epigraph? What is the narrator telling us when he says that Robert Jordan, lying on the forest floor waiting for death, is "completely integrated" (p. 471)?
After Reading the Novel
To read For Whom The Bell Tolls is to experience Hemingway's most compelling assertion of his role as an artist. Writing in a time of war and of passionate partisans, he chose truth once more, and he chose as well aesthetic principles over propaganda. Your group might enjoy Hemingway's Spanish Civil War dispatches written prior to For Whom the Bell Tolls. They are available in By-Line: Ernest Hemingway (Touchstone Books) and provide clues to Hemingway's process of composition. You might also want to compare The Fifth Column, Hemingway's play about the Spanish Civil War, to the novel and draw conclusions as to why the play did not succeed as did the novel. The Spanish Earth, a Loyalist film which Hemingway helped make, is not readily available: however, it can be obtained, usually from your public, college, or university library. Although it is propagandistic, it does provide battlefield scenes along with Hemingway's sound-track comments. A Hollywood movie of For Whom the Bell Tolls stars Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman.