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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 37 | Summary



Robert Jordan ends up making love with Maria in the early hours of the morning, and he thinks about how he may not have more than this day to live. He realizes it is going to hurt terribly if he has to leave them, and all he wants to do is protect them. He sees Pablo's band as his family now, with Pilar as a mother and sister figure; Maria as mother, sister, wife, and lover; and the other men as brothers. Anselmo is his father figure, his guide. Jordan is going to do all he can to enjoy the feeling of having a family that actually cares about him.

Maria asks if she will be with him that day, and he says she will at the start, but will be with the horses while he works. Jordan is kinder to her than he was in his own thoughts when he tried to convince himself she had no place in his life now. They go into the cave to eat and prepare to leave.


Again the love scene is mostly made up of phrases that refer to being in the moment, living in the now, and while there are no graphic details, it is a passionate scene. The knowledge this will be the last time Robert Jordan and Maria make love is part of why it is so passionate: they make the most of their time together to let each other know they are deeply in love with each other. Each of them is fully immersed in the experience.

Equally moving is Jordan's realization the band is his family. In four days he has made stronger connections with people than he has in all previous years of his life. He never had this type of connection with his own family, which is revealing. The reader can see how the detachment from his family affected his relationships up until this point, and how his love for Maria has transformed him as a person, far beyond just his ability to love her fully.

Hemingway's description of Jordan's thoughts also reveals how emotionally loaded the day is going to be. Now Jordan is not only fulfilling his mission, but he is trying to protect his love and his family from harm. There is a lot on Jordan's shoulders, and he wants to do right by Pablo's band even if he doesn't live to tell the tale.

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