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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 41 | Summary



Robert Jordan says goodbye to everyone as he goes to clear the sentry and wire the bridge with Anselmo and Agustín. Pablo shakes his hand, and Maria kisses him goodbye. He and Pilar exchange friendly insults. Everyone tries to remain unemotional, but it's impossible. They are all aware of the danger they face, and the goodbyes take on the aura of a last goodbye.

Then the men leave to go to their posts. They leave Agustín at a post to cover them should they not be able to clear the sentry. Jordan and Anselmo go over details about when and where to shoot, which makes Anselmo terribly uncomfortable, but he pushes through it anyway. Anselmo is at the end of the bridge which will require pulling a wire, and Jordan is at the end where he has to wire in the explosives. He has to use grenades because that is all they have. He and Anselmo go to their respective posts at each end of the bridge and wait for the Republican planes to arrive.


Robert Jordan feels like a young kid heading off on his own, and yet he is in charge. He also has to review how to shoot a man with Anselmo. This teaching moment reveals two things: the depth of Anselmo's conviction that killing people is morally wrong, and the relationship between Jordan and Anselmo. The way they speak is efficient, employing short sentences to make sure that the instructions are very clear. There is no room for error, and both of them feel the tension building in each other, so they both communicate in a way that circumvents that tension with clarity and allows them to listen through the stress.

However Jordan and Anselmo use terms of endearment with each other, which makes their parting feel like the parting of a father and his son. Anselmo is the closest thing Jordan has had to a father, and at this point, he loves him as if he was his real father. He knows it is a gift to have had this kind of concern and attention from Anselmo, as well as Anselmo's willingness to go where Jordan goes, no matter what the danger. Anselmo is an old peasant, and one would think that he would draw the line much earlier and decide this mission is too dangerous, but Anselmo is as fond of Jordan as Jordan is of Anselmo. Anselmo gets to have a son, if only for a short time.

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