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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 17 | Summary



The entire band votes on whether to kill Pablo, and they all want to. Robert Jordan and Anselmo are exempt from the vote. They all fear that Pablo will do something to sabotage their attack and their ability to defend themselves as they make their escape. But Jordan remembers that they can't have a shooting match because there is dynamite in the sacks in the cave. He hauls Agustín out to talk with him and reminds him what is in the sacks. Agustín has also forgotten, and feels like a fool. He goes back into the cave and offers Pablo a drink, asking after the horses. Pablo says the weather is changing, and he will help with the bridge. He has changed his mind, but no one trusts him. He says he can take them to Gredos better than anyone else can. Agustín goes outside, calling the cave a manicomio, an insane asylum.


Robert Jordan has made a crucial mistake, allowing Pablo to get everyone worked up, as Pablo knows that no one can make a move unless they plan to blow up the cave with the dynamite that is in the sacks. Jordan has completely forgotten that point, so has Agustín, and Jordan feels they deserve what they get for having been so stupid.

The change of heart Pablo has is likely not real, because he has listened in on what everyone was saying, and will find his opportunity to sabotage the action later. He will lead the escape, but that still leaves the bridge explosion, and there are two sacks full of equipment for it in the cave, which he has access to. He may have done a lot of thinking outside, but at this point, such a fast turnaround in opinion is not believable. Also such a fast turnaround in sobriety is not even possible.

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