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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 38 | Summary



Pilar tells Robert Jordan that the palm reading she did was "gypsy nonsense" and doesn't want him to worry. Jordan lets her know he is not worried, but Pilar can see the truth. She is extremely persistent in making him believe she was lying about the palm reading, so that she doesn't further affect his ability to think clearly through the mission and not believe everything he does is fated to fail.

Anselmo brings grenades and bombs, and Jordan tries to figure out a way to use them instead of the missing materials. As he is figuring all of this out, and asking how effective and reliable all of these materials are, Pablo walks into the cave. Pablo says he threw the materials into the river, but he brings horses and five men. He also brings extra grenades. He could not bear being alone, he says. It is not for Jordan that he returns, but for Pilar. Jordan is furious with Pablo but extremely happy to see him.


Telling Robert Jordan that her ability to read palms was fake shows how much Pilar cares for Jordan. To set aside her very real trepidation about the mission's destiny, which she knows is failure, shows the reader that it is more important to Pilar to keep Jordan emotionally strong through this mission than it is to be right. This is a change in Pilar, who is usually very insistent, and profanely so, about being right.

Jordan goes through a moment of terrible self-doubt, thinking his plan is a total failure, but then Pablo shows up. The fact that Pablo returns with horses and men makes his apology believable. In addition Pilar is quite moved by Pablo's return, and realizes that the Pablo she knew is back. The change in her voice shows she is overcome with emotion. The theme of courage is present in Pablo's willingness to come back and admit his mistake. Pilar pushes him a bit, because she is still angry, but he keeps responding with the fact that he is there, he came there because he missed her, and he could have stayed away, but didn't. Pilar has to take this gesture of love as the very big deal it really is. Pablo is not usually this tied to anyone, but he is to Pilar.

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