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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 16 | Summary



Maria takes care of Robert Jordan and Anselmo, and Pablo begins to insult Jordan, insisting that he wears skirts. Primitivo tries to change the subject by asking Jordan about what his country produces and how their economic system works, and they come to the subject of how Pablo got rid of the Fascists in his village. Pablo says he drinks because he is sad that he killed so many people, and if he could, he would bring them back to life. Pilar and Agustín are disgusted by him. Agustín asks why Jordan is in Spain, and Jordan tells him he teaches Spanish. Pablo begins to insult Jordan again, calling him a false professor because he has no beard. Jordan begins to suspect that Pablo is not drunk. Agustín ends up punching Pablo three times, but Pablo is not going to do anything to justify anyone killing him. He goes out to his horses as Agustín flings obscenities at him.


The stress level in the cave is becoming problematic, especially because everyone is stuck there during the freak snowstorm. Pablo is supposedly drunker than usual, but Robert Jordan suspects that he isn't really drunk, and is trying to get the band to either kill him now or side with him.

It is Agustín, however, who ends up being physically violent, but Pablo says, "I do not provoke." Agustín can swear at him and knock his cup out of his hands, but Pablo will not respond in kind. His fear of death leads him to not care that the band will follow Jordan and Pilar, and he mocks both of them regarding how they will blow up the bridge and how they plan to escape death afterward with all of these "patriots." Pablo is certain that if he stays behind with the horses, he will be safe and his comrades will die. The dialogue between him and the rest of the band builds tension until he tells them what he thinks: that Pilar doesn't have the intelligence to lead, and the "foreigner" is there to "destroy" them.

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