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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Study Guide

Ernest Hemingway

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For Whom the Bell Tolls | Discussion Questions 41 - 50


In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 33, how do Pilar's and Pablo's actions reinforce the ideas of self and community?

In Chapter 33 Pilar stays awake after Pablo has stolen the explosives from Robert Jordan's sacks to show a contrast between self and community. It seems that Pablo will do anything to keep the band from blowing up the bridge, regardless of the consequences. In contrast to Pablo's act of seeming selfishness, Pilar supports the community by doing what she can: she stays up for the rest of the night cooking, planning, and trying to figure out how the band can escape. Although Jordan tells her to go back to sleep, and is kind to her because he knows she feels so bad about what happened and blames herself, she can't stop thinking about the theft and its impact on the group. All she can do are the things she usually does to nurture the group while she waits for the sun to rise. However it is possible to read Pablo's act as one of community, as well. He steals the explosives to protect his community, never harming anyone or putting anyone in harm's way. When his actions fail, he returns to help them.

In Chapter 37 how has Robert Jordan changed since the beginning of For Whom the Bell Tolls?

In Chapter 37, in the early hours of the morning, Robert Jordan realizes that he may be losing everything he has built with Maria and Pablo's band in the short time that he has been there. The men have been his fathers and brothers, the women his mothers and sisters, and Maria his lover and wife. He thought at the start of his mission that he could remain "cold" but he has become so close to all of these people that he realizes it is not only impossible to be cold, but that their safety rests on his shoulders. A few chapters earlier in the novel, he tried to convince himself that Maria had no place in his life during the mission and that he didn't want the responsibility of Pablo's band, but now, they are his family, more than his blood family ever was.

In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 38, how does Pablo redeem himself in Robert Jordan's eyes?

In Chapter 38 Pablo comes back and tells Robert Jordan that he threw the materials he stole into the river, but felt bad about it and came back. He brings with him extra grenades, five horses, and five men, which lets Jordan know that he is serious this time. If he had been trying to deceive Jordan out again, he would not have brought him extra materials to blow up the bridge. He has also come up with a plan to blow up the bridge using the grenades, as has Jordan, so he has put his intelligence to work in the situation as well. Finally the reason why he could not stay away is that he was lonely without Pilar. He wants Jordan to know he still does not approve of this mission, but he is doing this for Pilar, because it is too lonely without her. This, Jordan can believe, coming from the essentially selfish Pablo.

In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 39, how has Pablo lied to the horsemen, and why does he lie?

In Chapter 39 Pablo realizes that he will not have enough horses to get all of his band out of the mountains safely when they retreat. He encounters five men who are not very good guerrillas, but who have horses. He lies to them about how safe the mission is, and how successful it will be. He goes so far as to tell Robert Jordan not to tell the men that he is afraid of how the mission will really go, and he is afraid they all will die. He especially doesn't want the men to know they are going to try to escape after the mission of blowing up the bridge is complete. Jordan catches on to what Pablo is talking about, and realizes that, apart from his love for Pilar, Pablo is as ruthless as ever. Pablo intends to kill the men and take their horses so that he can save his band and protect his community. This disgusts Jordan, but he can't say anything against Pablo now.

Why does Robert Jordan say goodbye to everyone as he goes to wire the bridge in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 41?

In Chapter 41 Robert Jordan says goodbye to everyone as if he is never going to see them again. He never actually says this to any members of the band, and certainly not Maria, but he feels that he is not going to make it out of the bridge mission alive. The equipment they have to rig up is not sufficient to pull and get away from quickly, as it would have been had Pablo not stolen the detonator, but there is nothing Jordan can do about that now. He loves these people, and needs to make sure that he connects with each person before he goes, even shaking Pablo's hand. He kisses Maria goodbye as well, but simply insults Pilar in a way that lets her know that he loves her, too. She insults him right back, as usual, to let him know that she cares for him. Nothing is certain as he leaves.

In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 41, what is the relationship between Anselmo and Robert Jordan as they go to wire the bridge?

In Chapter 41 Robert Jordan and Anselmo are comrades, but more than that, they are partners. They teach each other what the other one doesn't know, and Anselmo is like a father to Jordan. Jordan was not close with his own father who committed suicide, and he has been angry at him ever since. With Anselmo there are terms of endearment exchanged as they go over the business of how best to shoot, how to wire the bridge, and what to do when they are ready to blow up the bridge. For Jordan, parting with Anselmo, knowing he may not see him again, is extremely difficult and he has to work very hard to maintain his composure.

In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 42, how is a lack of communication at fault for Andrés's difficulty in finding Golz and giving him Robert Jordan's message?

In Chapter 42 Andrés attempts to communicate with characters who are crazy or ignorant to fulfill his mission, which causes a series of delays. All of these delays mean that Golz gets the message too late. Andrés goes from frustration to heartache, as Golz makes the call at the same time that the planes take off to head out for the attack. Andrés has been given almost no guidance, or clear communication, by Robert Jordan on who to look for and how to get to Golz, and Jordan should have known that there would be barriers. The total lack of communication, again, causes the Republican side to fail in another mission, and it costs people their lives.

What have Pablo's actions cost Robert Jordan regarding the bridge explosion in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 43?

In Chapter 43 Pablo's theft of the detonator and all of the equipment that would have allowed Anselmo and Robert Jordan to explode the bridge from farther away has led to a disastrous result. Anselmo is the one who has to pull the wire, but he is too close to the bridge to avoid the shards of metal that fly everywhere when it explodes. Anselmo is killed, and Jordan is devastated because Anselmo had become his father figure. The pair bonds over a respect for duty and their shared statuses as outsiders in the band. However Anselmo, unlike Jordan, is honest about his fear and his loneliness, and he uses following the rules of war as a substitute for bravery. Nonetheless Jordan is furious with Pablo for increasing the mission's risks even more, and a part of him is furious and stunned that he is alive and Anselmo is dead. Pablo's actions have cost Jordan the closest thing to a true father he has ever had.

In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 43, how do Agustín's final actions reveal the nobility of his character?

In Chapter 43 Agustín offers to shoot Robert Jordan after the others have abandoned him so that he won't be tortured if he gets caught. Maria, who once offered to commit this act and Jordan's great love, is not there to fulfill her promise. Agustín's offer is one that comes from the heart, a place of high moral ideals and principles. Agustín loves Jordan enough to do this for him, as horrible as it would be to have to shoot a good friend. Agustín is also crying, which he never does, showing that he is torn apart inside, having to leave Jordan alive and vulnerable, for the Fascists to find.

In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Chapter 43, how do Robert Jordan's final actions reveal the nobility of his character?

In Chapter 43 Robert Jordan declines the easy bullet of Agustín and chooses to endure further suffering in an effort to protect the community of which he now feels a part. Jordan is going to try to take down whomever he can hit before he dies, to do some good for his comrades and have one less person to follow them as they escape. He hides behind a pine tree, reconvening with nature as he makes his last stand. He is comforted in death not by the success or failure of a military mission but by the knowledge that he is helping his friends. Jordan's last act is meaningful and noble because the sacrifice is real—he protects his new family by letting go of himself.

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