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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 10 | Summary



Pilar, Robert Jordan, and Maria walk to El Sordo's camp, but Pilar needs to stop partway to soak her feet in a stream. Jordan asks her if she ever goes to Segovia, and she says she can't because her ugly face is recognizable. She says she would have made a handsome man, but she is "all woman and all ugly."

Then Jordan asks how she ended up with Pablo, and Pilar tells the horrific story of Pablo clearing out their town of Fascists and starting the revolution there. Fascists were put through a gauntlet, beaten to death by the townspeople so that no one actually shot anyone and no one had to take complete responsibility for their deaths. The bodies were tossed over the cliff into the river, dead or not. The drunkenness of the crowd turned them into vicious killers. Pilar tells Jordan and Maria that she slept with Pablo that night, but she saw one victim's wife on her balcony, "kneeling and crying." Pilar says this was the worst day of her life until the Fascists attacked three days later, and she didn't want to tell that story in front of Maria.


Readers see the personality Pablo had before Robert Jordan met him, according to Pilar. Pablo is known among guerrillas as being ruthless and fierce, intelligent and quick to mount an attack. Pilar's disgust with Pablo's fear of death now and his interest in keeping his band safe by not fulfilling the mission of the Republic is an interesting contrast with the way she felt as people were being bludgeoned to death and tossed over the cliff that long ago. She was horrified by it, and began not to have the stomach for killing, even though the people going to their deaths were Fascists.

Part of Pilar admires Pablo for his ruthlessness, but part of her is disgusted by that aspect of him as well. She is definitely disgusted with drunkenness, and says it causes people to do awful things they would never do if they hadn't been drinking. The drunkenness may be the real issue behind her current feelings for Pablo.

Another passage that reveals much about Pilar is her thoughts on her ugliness. Instead of just saying that she is ugly, she elaborates by describing what it is like to feel inside that one is beautiful, and have someone be attracted to that, but then begin to see the ugliness on the outside instead of the beauty on the inside. It seems that Pilar, though she has loved many men, has also been hurt by almost all of them. Her revelations about ugliness and beauty reveal that she, too, is capable of having her feelings hurt.

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