For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 14 | Summary



The snow is coming down, but the two men at their posts have returned. Robert Jordan wants to go find them, as he told both of them to stay put until they were relieved, but Pablo tells him to stay put and refuses to help. Pablo, who has been drinking all day, encourages Jordan to partake in the wine as well. He tells Jordan he shouldn't sleep outside in the snow, making it clear that he is also unhappy that Jordan is sleeping with Maria, but Jordan tells him he is fine sleeping outside.

Pablo tells Jordan he brought horses for the bull rings, which is where he met Pilar. One of the brothers in the cave says that Finito, who was with Pilar at the time, wasn't much of a matador, and Pilar has a vision of Finito fighting a bull, remembering how fierce he was in the ring. Pablo says, "He was handicapped by his short stature" and Primitivo says, "clearly he was tubercular." Pilar goes on a rant about how many of the poor had to end up being matadors to make a living. To Pablo she says, "You are afraid to die now. You think that is something of importance. But Finito was afraid all the time and in the ring he was like a lion." She tells the story of the club named for him, and his fear of the bull's head on the wall. Then Rafael comes in from the cold, and Jordan decides he is going to find Anselmo. Fernando goes with him.


This chapter shows how much Finito meant to Pilar, and how she ended up with a man whom she says to herself is exactly like the bulls that Finito killed. Finito overcame his fears every single time he got into the ring, and yet Pablo can't find it in him to continue to fight for the Republic.

Pablo's comments to Maria and his insistence that Robert Jordan shouldn't sleep outside in the snow are also signs that Pablo is interested in Maria in a sexual way, which disturbs Pilar and is part of the reason she asks Jordan to take Maria away. Hemingway uses these subtle turns of phrase in dialogue to show how characters feel about each other or about situations they are dealing with. Jordan notices this right away and makes it very clear to Pablo that he intends to sleep outside: that is, with Maria.

Pilar's visions of Finito explain much of her sadness as well, having lost someone for whom she had so much passion. In addition to this type of sadness, there is the sadness that for poor people in Spain, there were very few ways to keep food on the table, and they were prone to diseases that the bourgeoisie could avoid, such as tuberculosis. Now the poor were on both sides of the war, suffering an even greater risk to their lives.

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