For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 22 | Summary



Robert Jordan has to reposition the machine gun and teach Agustín how to shoot it properly, where to aim, and how far away the target must be. He realizes that no one in the entire band has ever had to shoot a machine gun before, and they really don't know anything about it, despite the fact that they took it apart to try to learn how it works. Jordan realizes that he has to teach them how to strategize with a weapon like this. He also has Anselmo get an axe to cut trees to plant as a screen. He puts pine boughs around the area and explains how the rocks will give them a place to hide if a plane flies overhead. Rafael shows up with two hares, having left his post to trap them, and Jordan tells Rafael that he is lucky Jordan isn't going to shoot him. Rafael is not quite clear he has done something wrong, but Jordan tells him never, ever to leave his post again.


The fast pace and short length of the chapter gives the reader a sense of the increasing level of danger, given that there are observation planes arriving and it is possible that another patrol could follow the cavalryman's tracks. Robert Jordan is still quite levelheaded, even with Rafael who left his post and put the rest of the band in danger. He has to use his experience to prepare the band to defend themselves and take down anyone who attacks, but learning on the fly like that rarely works if there is a great deal of panic or emotion involved. He does get angry at Rafael, and reprimands him, swearing at him in a way that he doesn't usually do, but he also understands that it's already done, and the result is what he has to live with, so they may as well eat well.

Hemingway brings in the symbols of the pines again as a representation of shelter and safety. Jordan, after making all of these preparations to mount a defense, feels positive about the next mission, and feels as if the Republicans will really be able to take Segovia. However there are many unknowns on the Fascist side, regarding what they know and where they will position themselves the next day.

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