For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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Course Hero, "For Whom the Bell Tolls Study Guide," September 29, 2016, accessed September 26, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/For-Whom-the-Bell-Tolls/.

For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 4 | Summary

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Summary

Robert Jordan and Anselmo are at the camp, and it becomes clear to Jordan that Pablo has been talking about him with the rest of the guerrillas. Jordan brings his sacks of explosives into the cave in order to keep an eye on them, and Pablo tells him he doesn't want explosives in the cave, but Jordan brushes it off, offering him cigarettes. He looks around at the other guerrillas; Primitivo, with a broken nose and flat face; and two brothers.

Pablo says that he and his band will not blow up the bridge, and Jordan says that he will do it alone with Anselmo. Pablo tells him that there will be no blowing up the bridge. Jordan wants to know what Pilar thinks, and she says she is for blowing the bridge and against Pablo, who is a drunkard and a coward. The rest of the guerrillas fall in step right behind Pilar, and Pablo is furious, because he is in command. Pilar tells him, "Here I command!" Pablo says he wants to be safe, but Pilar reminds him that no one is as safe as they think they are. She uses her former lover, Finito, as an example, and his colleagues, who thought they knew when they had killed a bull in the ring, but ended up being gored by the supposedly dead bull. Pablo eventually relents but reminds her, "I am not stupid."

Analysis

The reader is introduced to Primitivo and the two brother guerrillas who are not yet named. The dialogue is meant to give the reader a sense of the tension in the cave, which is already present when Robert Jordan arrives with Anselmo. Jordan tries to alleviate the tension, but discovers that even Rafael, who had been joking with him before, is suddenly no longer interested in being cordial.

Pablo is determined not to have any part in blowing up the bridge, and he is frustrated that no one is thinking the same: "Am I the only one who sees the seriousness of this?" But he is portrayed as protesting in a pitiful manner, partially because he is drunk, and partially because, unbeknownst to Jordan, Pablo's past is full of murderous acts. Now the war has been going on for a year, and he fears that the Fascists will find his band if they blow up the bridge, and they will all die.

Pilar, in stating that she is in command, is revealing what has likely been the case for a long time, given that Pablo is a drunkard and she is a woman with an extremely strong personality. Jordan thinks that Pilar doesn't really understand how dangerous and prone to failure this mission is, but Pilar is not stupid. She is, however, so loyal to the Republic that she knows one has to do what one has been ordered to do in order to serve the Republic, and she may be a guerrilla with no general above her, but she knows that Jordan doesn't have the same luxury to give up on the mission.

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