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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 30 | Summary



Robert Jordan thinks of his grandfather, and wishes that he were there to advise him. Jordan is ashamed of his father for having married a woman who bullied him, and for having committed suicide. Jordan threw the gun that his father used to commit suicide into a lake. He thought of his father as a coward, but he realizes he can't know what led his father to do what he did. He wasn't in his father's shoes or in his marriage, and he doesn't know what relationship difficulties his father may have had with other family members either. He realizes that while he has been angry for a long time about the suicide, he can't really be angry. He, himself, is tempted to die just to avoid the inevitable torture ahead, though he won't be able to follow that temptation.

Jordan also realizes there is no choice: he has to blow the bridge. Golz won't call off the attack, and Jordan feels oddly at ease knowing what he has to do. When there is absolutely no choice left, Jordan feels that at least he will have done his duty and made some kind of mark on the war effort.


Robert Jordan's conscience leads him in directions that sometimes feel unproductive and are just a product of a racing brain. However the shift in his attitude toward his father signifies he knows his own life is about to come to an end, and no one knows the exact path he has taken to come to this end but him. His father's intentions to commit suicide, therefore, are impossible for him to surmise, because he was not in his father's shoes. He realizes that no one really knows exactly how it feels to be in another's shoes.

The gun thrown into a lake is Hemingway's way of foreshadowing the loss of another piece of equipment. It is also a way of emphasizing Jordan's obsession with honor and duty above all human feelings. Now that Jordan is in a life-threatening situation, and knows he is going to die soon, he realizes he has no right to judge his father's actions and no right to say his father was wrong to take his life.

There is no certainty at all that Golz will get the letter from Jordan, or that he will call off the attack, and this fact makes Jordan realize that he is alone with his mission. Jordan's decision that he has to stick with his plan is the only decision he can really make that feels like he's doing something useful, rather than just waiting for the Fascists to find the band, which is oddly comforting. He may die, but at least he can save some of the people he now loves.

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