Literature Study GuidesFor Whom The Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway

Year Published





War Literature

Perspective and Narrator

For Whom the Bell Tolls is told from the third-person point of view by an omniscient narrator.


For Whom the Bell Tolls is told primarily in the past tense.

About the Title

The title, For Whom the Bell Tolls, comes from a text called Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne, a 17th-century English poet and Anglican priest. The 17th of Donne's meditations begins with the words "No man is an island, entire of itself," and ends with the line "Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." Donne refers to funeral bells: since everyone meets the end of life at some point, the bells toll for everyone as a metaphor for death. Ernest Hemingway sided with the fight against fascism, as most Americans did. He chose the excerpt to express his support for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War and to emphasize the theme of sacrifice for a cause that is greater than any one individual.


This study guide and infographic for Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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