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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 19 | Summary



The band asks questions about Kashkin, wondering if Robert Jordan believes that a man can know what will happen in advance. Jordan tells Maria, who had liked Kashkin very much though she had been sick at the time, that Kashkin "was a good friend and comrade of mine ... I cared for him very much." Pilar points out that Jordan shot Kashkin, and Jordan explains that he did it at Kashkin's request because he was so badly wounded. He explains that Kashkin had seen terrible things at the front, and it had made him nervous and tired. Andrés asks again if Jordan believes that a man can know in advance what will happen to him, and Jordan says it's "ignorance and superstition." He says that "fear produces evil visions," and Primitivo says, "such as the airplanes today," while Pablo says softly, "Such as thy arrival." Jordan believes that Kashkin merely had a fear of the possibility of his being wounded and it "became an obsession." Pilar says that Kashkin smelled of death, and describes a combination of horrible smells that make up the smell of death. As Jordan goes to check the weather, he realizes that El Sordo will have left tracks in the snow if he has stolen horses.


After all of the tension with Pablo, the talk of Kashkin seems to make the rest of the band almost suspicious of Robert Jordan who doesn't believe that Kashkin knew he would die. The horrible smells that Pilar describes disgust him, but he simply responds that it's a good thing he shot Kashkin if he had really smelled of death.

When Pablo says Jordan's arrival was a bad sign, it is interesting to note the tone of his voice is described as soft and not at all provocative. He is simply saying what he believes and observes, without any malice. This may be because Jordan was willing to shoot Kashkin, a good friend, to save him from a slow and painful death. The band also has a better understanding of why Kashkin was so nervous, because they know of the horrible battles he was in and what he must have seen there. The theme of the horrors of war is expressed in their effects on Kashkin as he tried to complete a mission and failed to do it well.

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