For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 5 | Summary



Robert Jordan goes outside to get some air, and Rafael follows him. Rafael asks him quietly, "Why didst thou not kill Pablo?" Jordan has no idea that this was the reason for the silence and tension in the cave: all of the guerrillas were expecting that Jordan would kill Pablo, since Pablo was refusing to help with the mission. This is why Pilar sent the girl outside, he finds out. Rafael keeps egging him on to kill Pablo, but Jordan wants to know why someone else doesn't do it. He tells himself that killing a man and then working with that man's group afterward is not a good idea.

Pablo comes outside to smoke, and tells Jordan not to pay attention to Pilar, that she is devoted to the Republic, and that he is welcome there and will be helped. Then Pablo goes to check on his horses. Rafael says that Jordan should go kill him, but Jordan sends him down to Agustín to tell him what happened. Jordan goes to see what Pablo is doing in the meadow. He hears Pablo telling a horse how beautiful it is, as the horse stands there, annoyed, and tries to eat. Jordan decides it isn't worth the risk to kill him, and that Pablo really is checking on his horses, so Jordan goes back to the cave.


This chapter is unsettling, in that Robert Jordan didn't realize what was happening earlier in the cave. He had thought of killing Pablo, certainly, but he knew he didn't really want to take the risk. The mission is more important to him, and he is smart enough to know that in the heat of anger and frustration, one can do things that have permanent consequences. Jordan knows, first and foremost, that people's feelings change once one of their own has been hurt or killed in front of their eyes. The reality of the situation is very different than the fantasy.

In addition while Jordan knows it's possible that either Agustín or Rafael might kill Pablo, he doesn't have that responsibility, as the foreigner who is already introducing a dangerous mission into the mix. There is enough on Jordan's shoulders, and his emotional restraint, while being goaded all the while by the tension and Pablo's disagreeable attitude, is still intact: a necessary trait in a person who is supposed to keep his cool while blowing up a bridge. This levelheadedness will stand him in good stead later in the novel.

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