Homage to Catalonia | Study Guide


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Course Hero. "Homage to Catalonia Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 June 2019. Web. 18 Aug. 2022. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Homage-to-Catalonia/>.

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Course Hero. "Homage to Catalonia Study Guide." June 7, 2019. Accessed August 18, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Homage-to-Catalonia/.


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Homage to Catalonia | Symbols



Chapter 6 includes the most fully described battle in Homage to Catalonia, a nighttime raid on a fascist position. During this battle, Orwell and his fellow militiamen seize a prize from the fascists: a telescope. The telescope symbolizes what Orwell's company hopes to gain, and it also symbolizes what they lose. Orwell and his company had hoped to seize the fascists' machine gun, but the fascists have dismantled it and carried it away with them. At first Orwell and the others mistake the telescope for the barrel of the missing machine gun because it is hidden in a leather case. When they open the case they discover "something ... even more precious" for their "weapon-starved army." With the telescope Orwell and the other militiamen could watch the fascist troop movements. The boredom and confusion of stationary warfare would be transformed for Orwell's company; they would know what was going on around them. But when the fascists return to the parapet, Orwell and his company must leave the telescope behind, symbolizing the futility of war and its transitory gains.


Shortly before he leaves Barcelona, Orwell goes to see a colonel in the War Department. He wants to help his friend Georges Kopp by retrieving a letter of his, now in the hands of the police. The colonel is not available; instead Orwell is attended to by "the little officer," an unnamed secretary to the colonel. In trying to explain how Kopp came to be imprisoned and why he must be released, Orwell cannot help admitting he and Kopp fought with the POUM militia. At the time Orwell makes this confession, in June 1937, the POUM has been declared illegal, and any evidence of having once belonged to it or its militia is grounds for arrest. The little officer could easily have arrested Orwell. Instead he not only helps Orwell retrieve Kopp's letter from the police, and he also shakes Orwell's hand. The handshake symbolizes the two men's equality and connection. Although the May Days in Barcelona have declared them members of enemy parties, the handshake shows they are fighting on the same side. As so often in Homage to Catalonia, Orwell is deeply moved when people set aside political differences in favor of common decency.

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