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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 21 | Summary



Robert Jordan has to shoot a cavalryman first thing in the morning, and then hears a plane overhead. Rafael was supposed to have been on watch, but the cavalryman got through. It appears he is just a lone rider patrolling the mountains, but Jordan is taking no chances. He gets Pablo to take the horse back down the mountain and hide it, and tells Pilar to ready horses and his sacks, with everything stripped from the cavalryman in them. It is necessary to make preparations to leave in case another patrol comes looking for the missing cavalryman. Agustín takes the machine gun up higher so they can shoot anyone who comes through. Maria wants to go with Jordan, but he tells her to stay with Pilar. She tries to get him to say he loves her, but he won't, because this is not the time.


This chapter shows how serious Robert Jordan is in times of war, a trait of which he is very proud. He thinks he is able to split himself between his war personality and his love personality. As Maria gets dressed in the sleeping robe, he thinks, "She had no place in his life now." Maria is upset that he won't say he loves her and won't let her help him, but she says, "Good. I go. And if thou dost not love me, I love thee enough for both." When Jordan smiles, it indicates that he really can't separate the two parts of his life the way he thought was possible. He is having true feelings of love, and no one can just set those aside completely.

Pablo is actually impressed with the quick reaction and solid thinking that Jordan has shown, and his leadership in a crisis. Jordan is surprised that Pablo tells him so. It remains to be seen, though, if this keeps him from trying to sabotage Jordan later.

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