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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 13 | Summary



Maria and Robert Jordan walk in the heather together, hand in hand, and Jordan kisses her, holding her tight. They end up making love in the heather and Jordan says he feels so wonderful with her that he wants to die right there. Maria says she does die each time, and that she feels the earth move. Jordan tells her she has magic in her that makes him love her. Maria says they have that happiness for one day. But then Jordan begins to think of his job with the bridge, and how to accomplish it. He worries he has brought her band into something that will make them lose their lives, but he could not have refused to do the "impossible" mission either. He thinks about why they are fighting for a just society, and about marriage with Maria. He wants to have what he has with Maria his whole life.

When they walk back, they find Pilar asleep under a tree. She wakes up and is surly with them, but Maria tells her the earth moved. She asks Jordan if it did for him, and he says it did. Pilar claims this only happens three times in a lifetime and they are lucky. Jordan accuses her of giving him "chicken-crut," and she laughs at him. Then she looks at the sky and says it will snow.


This chapter has some beautiful descriptions of the landscape, descriptions for which Hemingway is famous. The way he describes the field of heather places the reader right into the scene, and while he never explicitly says what Robert Jordan and Maria are doing as they make love, the emotional language connected with the beauty of the landscape gives the reader a sense of the intensity between them and their knowledge that they have very little time left before the attack begins. The smell of the heather, the way the heather stalks become rough when bent, and the way Maria looks all blend together: "the sun bright on her closed eyes and all his life he would remember the curve of her throat with her head pushed back into the heather roots and her lips that moved smally and by themselves and the fluttering of the lashes on the eyes tight closed against the sun and against everything."

Jordan's interior monologue afterward is also long and detailed. There is so much to think about: for example, the job of wiring the bridge itself, the orders from Golz that are admittedly impossible, the idea of marrying Maria, of dying before he can, of putting everyone's life at risk, and of accepting that instead of having 70 years, he may only have 72 hours left to live and his life is beautiful now. With Maria he feels "the earth move out and away from under them."

Pilar, however, feels horrible: she is struggling with jealousy of the two lovers, of their beauty, and their intensity, along with the knowledge that everything may be blown up right along with the bridge soon. Her sadness about this possible future, along with her sadness about Pablo being such a disappointment to her, make her unavoidably mean, until she speaks for a while with Maria and Jordan and discovers that they have both experienced something that is rare and precious. Her love for both of them makes her joke and laugh, despite her feelings of misery.

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