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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 25 | Summary



Robert Jordan leaves Anselmo with Agustín and the gun and goes to Primitivo to explain why they can't help El Sordo. The firing is followed by grenade sounds, and it is a massacre. There is also a double line of cavalrymen headed in El Sordo's direction. Primitivo says they have to help: "We cannot leave them alone to this." But Jordan says, "They are lost ... They were lost when the snow stopped. If we go there we are lost, too." Jordan says that in war, sometimes they have to endure things like this. Primitivo has tears in his eyes and is swearing. Pilar arrives with binoculars and expresses sympathy for Sordo. She realizes that it is because of the horse stealing and tracks in the snow. She also tells Jordan that Rafael told her about the cavalrymen. She tells Primitivo to stop being a romantic and act like a man about Sordo. She says she'll send food up for them, and tells Primitivo she was not trying to insult him.


Pilar shows she has much more good sense than Primitivo and the others, by understanding that it is impossible to save Sordo, and that he got himself into this trouble. She feels horrible for him, and is sad that she is losing her friend, but she knows that it is too dangerous to go help. Pilar has a fiery personality, but she often knows exactly what to do in such situations, where the men tend to act first and think later.

It seems strange that El Sordo, an experienced guerrilla leader, would not realize that the tracks of the horses would lead the Fascists to his group. His actions lead the reader to surmise that the Fascists have known about his location for a while, and he is just doing what he can to minimize the damage he knows is coming. He also wanted to help Pablo's band, and he is willing to put his life on the line for that. The overhead planes are still running, and the number of planes earlier would have spotted the horses he already had. He is smart enough to know this is the case.

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