For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 42 | Summary



Gomez and Andrés finally get to where Golz is, but they are stopped by André Marty, a French commissary, who decides to arrest them. Gomez is furious, but the corporal who is on duty tells them Marty is crazy, and he knows how to deal with him. Gomez says to Marty, "Once tonight we have been impeded by the ignorance of the anarchists. Then by the sloth of a bureaucratic Fascist. Now by the over suspicion of a Communist." Gomez and Andrés are held until Karkov shows up and says that Golz should have received a message from Robert Jordan, an American. Karkov makes Marty give him the dispatch and the safe conduct pass. They finally get the information to Golz, who tries to call to stop the attack, but hears the planes. It is too late to stop the attack. He says to Duval, who is in the dugout, in French, "No, there's nothing that can be done. Nothing. We shouldn't think about it. We have to accept it."


Marty is a classic example of what power can do to a person who is not completely sane to begin with. Marty is conducting his own war in his head, and it's a war of paranoia. Nothing he does makes any sense, but he has the power to put anyone he wants to silence in jail. He uses this power randomly and at will. Everyone says they know how to deal with his brand of crazy, but it turns out, in this situation, that Gomez can't do anything to make Marty change his mind.

Karkov, Robert Jordan's friend, appears to save the day, and this is where Karkov's cynicism pays off. The reader sees how Karkov uses his position in the media to get what he wants, and if there's one thing that Marty fears, it's that the public will think he did the wrong thing and the bad publicity will make his superiors do what happens to all Russians who don't manage to enact Communism in the way that Stalin wants. So Karkov's threats work, thanks to the extent of Marty's paranoia.

All of the frustrating delays have led to this moment, and the planes leave before anyone can stop them, showing the reader how all of the bureaucratic interference and disorganization on the Republican side had devastating effects and eventually caused them to lose the war. Golz's quiet voice on the phone shows his acceptance of yet another "famous balls up," because at this point, he is used to missions being failures for one reason or another. Andrés can hear Golz's tone of voice, and realizes that he is too late, and the reader sees Andrés facing up to the realities of his side's dysfunctional structure for the first time.

Golz may be used to failure, but he still feels sick, knowing what this means for the bridge mission and his own brigades. It will be a disaster, and more lives will be lost. His emotions reveal to the reader how devastating it must have been for those leading Republican armies to see the deadly destruction that disorganization has wrought.

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