For Whom the Bell Tolls tells the interesting story of Robert Jordan, who is a college teacher, and American supporter of the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Within a short span of sixty-eight hours, Jordan gets involvement with a band of guerrillas, and a young woman named Maria, with who he later on in the book falls in love with. She forces him to question his own participation in the war. This war seems unwinnable, and Jordan later on realizes that fighting for the sake of political causes might be too high a price to pay. First Jordan discusses the location of a bridge with a local guide named Anselmo. We find out that the Spain Jordan loves is in a Civil War, and that Jordan has really come to help fight for the side he believes in. At that moment Jordan has to destroy a bridge behind the enemy lines. This first assignment came to Jordan from General Golz, who was a Soviet officer also in Spain to fight the war. According to General Golz, the destruction of this bridge at the right time can be a big factor for the Republican forces. Jordan needs help to do this job, so the peasant Anselmo brought Jordan to a guerrilla band hiding in the mountains. From the moment Jordan meets Pablo, the leader of this guerrilla band, he suspects that Pablo might lead Jordan to some trouble. But Jordan needs Pablo to be his ally in this operation. We find out that Pablo had gone bad . He lost his drive, his purpose as a guerrilla leader. He lost the idea to simply stay hidden and survive, rather then to harass the enemy. With the arrival of Jordan, Pablo gives new instructions to the seven men and two women of the band, on how to do things and when to do them. I think this was to show Jordan that there is some leadership in the band. A lot of the band members and some other bands don t like Pablo, and would be happy if Jordan would kill him, but he doesn t. Instead Jordan makes plans to meet with another neighboring guerrilla band, led by El Sordo. Jordan has them help in the demolition of the bridge. Robert Jordan finds more than the bridge to occupy his attention. Among the guerrilla band there is a women named Maria, who the band rescued during their last significant operation. Maria and Robert almost instantly are attracted to each other and spend the first night making love. This is not the first sexual experience for either of them. Jordan has been with other women. And Maria was once raped by a group of enemy soldiers. But this was the first experience that combined sex and love for both of them. The next day Robert, Maria, and Pilar, who is Pablo s mistress, go to the hideout of El Sordo to ask for their help in destroying the bridge. El Sordo promises their support. On the return trip, Pilar leaves Jordan and Maria on purpose by themselves for a while. And again they make love, and this is where I think Jordan begins to realize that this war might not be the most important thing in his life after all. Pablo s band then tries to avoid being seen by the enemy soldiers riding through the area. El Sordo and his men are not so fortunate. Nationalist soldiers the enemy trap them on a hill and they are slaughtered. Jordan and the others hear the sounds of fighting but did not come to aid El Sordo. Jordan thinks that it is a horrible feeling. Jordan talks about some personal experiences with now make him doubt the value of this war. He says the concentration of enemy soldiers and planes in the area make him doubt if they have the ability of blowing up the bridge. He says that if General Golz was aware of the numbers of the enemy soldiers, he would want the operation canceled. So Robert Jordan writes a message for Golz. But the messenger is delayed because of the presence of so many soldiers in the area. And finally the note never gets to Golz because the messenger is arrested and the note is taken away. At the camp Maria and Jordan dream about their future together, but Jordan knows that they are fooling themselves. Soon after some time passes Pilar brings Jordan the news that Pablo ran away and took with him the detonation devices. Jordan says that the bridge operation isn t easy with the detonation devices but without it seemed impossible. Jordan now has to come up with a makeshift exploder and detonators just to have a chance of succeeding. Night and day after that Jordan spends to figure out a way, and holding Maria. We will be killed but we will blow up the bridge , he whispers into her ear while she sleeps in his arms. On the fourth day, while the band eats what can be their last breakfast Pablo returns. He apologizes for his moments of weakness, and to make up for it he brought several more men from the area to join them, but the exploder and the detonators are gone, he tossed them in the river. The messenger is then released and the note gets to Golz, but it is too late because the enemy begins their attack. So the mission of blowing up the bridge proceeds. Jordan and Pablo come up with some detonation devices just in time. And the plan was that at the sound of the Loyalist attack the bridge should be destroyed. Jordan s mission is then accomplished, and he had done what he s come to do, but he is now a different man from what he was a short while ago. The success gives him just a little of satisfaction. Now the band must attempt to retreat. Pablo, the most familiar with the area, comes up with a plan which is possible to work. The band is fired at a lot of times, but no one is hurt. They all have a chance to escape to a safe area, except Robert Jordan. His horse is hit and falls on him, breaking his thigh. So he is left behind, and everyone but Maria can see that there s no other way to survive unless they keep going. There is a short but very painful good-bye. Maria protests to the end and won t leave until Pilar and Pablo force her to. Robert Jordan struggles to remain conscious just long enough to kill at least some of the enemy, and then he just lies there on the ground.
After having read both For Whom the Bell Tolls and Farewell to Arms both novels by Earnest Hemmingway I can clearly see what War/Romance was like. The theme in For Whom the Bell Tolls is clearly demonstrated by the actions of Robert Jordan. Throughout his participation in the Spanish Civil War, he fight s actively for a cause. Not the cause of communism, as Robert Jordan says but the cause of antifascism. As I read more and more of the novel, I realized that the involvement of Robert with the guerrilla band and Maria, teach him the value of the individual as he affects a larger society. For Jordan, Maria represents human love, at least the first he has ever known. I think it is for her that he stay s behind to allow the rest of the band to escape at the end of the novel, demonstrating his realization that others depend on him as he depended on them. I don t know why he doesn t commit suicide at the end of the book, I think it may be his understanding that he must fight for the people whose lives are affected by the cause. The relationships between Robert and Maria, and Henry and Catherine, are both very similar. Both couples meet each other at the front, and fall in love. And by the end of the book they realize that their love is better then the war, they had to fight. Robert and Henry s lives change, their views on life, war, love and relationships between human s change. I think most changes were for the better. I think Hemmingway depicts a few different kinds of love in For Whom the Bell Tolls . Romantic love is depicted in the relationship between Jordan and Maria. Before Jordan met Maria, he expressed himself sexually, but he never loved. Loving Maria makes Robert a better person, she represents the love that makes Jordan a human. For Maria, Jordan s love is the healing touch she needs to cure the psychic wounds administered upon her by her previous captors. Hemmingway also shows some kind of love between the people and land they are fighting for. Jordan s love of freedom brought him to Spain to fight for the Republican cause. The pain of Pablo s band as the guerrillas listen to the attack on El Sordo s camp shows some kind of love between the people. And Pilar s concern about Maria s happiness and well being is a kind of motherly love that play s a big part in Maria s healing process. To some extend For Whom the Bell Tolls not only a book of war and love, but also death. Robert Jordan from the beginning of the book realizes that death may come at any time. Henry in the Farewell to Arms also realizes this, but it is the nature of war that people get killed. And being at the wrong place at the wrong time, can get you killed. I think death is also linked to the novel s one of major themes, which I though was the interdependency between people. Everyone in the book and in the band depended on one another. The death s that happen during the story, like Kashkin s death in the beginning of the book, affected the lives of others. For example Kashkin s death affects Jordan and the guerrilla band, because that s one less person in their band. El Sordo s death had some serious consequences for the members of the camp. Jordan is also haunted by the deaths of his father and grandfather. I think Jordan s decision to hold off his own death by not committing suicide is made in order to save the lives of the others who are trying to run away from the enemy. Just as one man s life can have a strong affect on those around him, so therefor his death can have similar consequences.