For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Chapter 9 | Summary



Three more fighter planes fly over the treetops, close enough that everyone can see the pilots' faces. This is extremely disturbing, and Pilar thinks that she and Robert Jordan and Maria should walk to go see El Sordo. She asks Jordan if he and Maria made love, because Maria wouldn't tell her. Jordan won't either, so Pilar assumes they have, and tells him to be careful with her. Then she admits that the planes have brought up a sadness in her and that many of them will not live to "see another Sunday." "We are nothing against such machines," she says. She also thinks this sadness comes from the fact that she "wounded [Pablo] much with the story" about Valencia. She tells Jordan that she made it clear to Pablo that she is in charge, and that although he doesn't like Jordan, he didn't kill him because he thinks Jordan is "a good boy." Pablo admits to Pilar that he is afraid to die, and Pilar may have fears, but she doesn't let it affect her loyalty to the Republic the way Pablo does.

Jordan says that he doesn't allow anything to interfere with his work, and that he has never found a woman who moved him, but Pilar says he lies. Jordan admits that he cares for Maria very much. He also tells Pilar that he cares for her. Agustín arrives and Jordan goes into the cave to see Maria. Jordan kisses her on the mouth, and Fernando is upset until Pilar tells him Maria and Jordan are engaged. Then it's just fine with Fernando because dignity is upheld. A conversation ensues between Agustín and Pilar about guarding the explosives and seeing the planes, which is essentially a volley of insults and foul language. But then Agustín becomes serious and tells her that something terrible is going to happen, and Pilar knows this means they have to retreat as soon as the bridge is blown. Agustín insists that Pablo is the one to lead them in retreat, and that Pilar is not smart, though she is many other things. He urges her to get Pablo to study the best way to retreat, and she says she will think about it. She departs to see El Sordo accompanied by Jordan and Maria.


This chapter is where the tension begins to rise within the band as a result of their vulnerability. Pilar has made a judgment error in telling the Valencia story in front of Pablo, and she knows it. It's one thing for her to accuse him of being a coward, but it's another to flaunt a previous relationship in a way that sounds like her current one has never been as good. Pablo tries to defend himself, but she snaps at him and links one of his successes, the train explosion, to his failures and what she views as his cowardice.

The exchange with Agustín, however, foreshadows events that may prove that Pablo was right all along about the level of danger that this mission poses. Agustín says that Pablo is smart and Pilar, while loyal and brave, is not smart. Pablo's talent and intelligence is needed for being able to get out of this mess alive, he says, and urges Pilar to get Pablo to study how they're going to retreat once the attack happens.

Pilar's exchange with Robert Jordan, however, shows she is quite smart when it comes to relationships. Not only does she know when she's done something unacceptable to Pablo, but she also knows that the relationship between Jordan and Maria is a lifelong love that will only last another four days if they can't escape the mountains. She tells Jordan that she will give him time alone with Maria during the day as they travel back and forth from El Sordo's camp, because having time in the daylight as well as at night is important. She knows that they are in grave danger. She is, however, not ready to trust that Pablo can pull them out of it, because his fear has taken over.

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