For Whom the Bell Tolls

Carpe Diem: Life and Certitude in For Whom the Bell Tolls 12th Grade

The life expectancy in the United States is about seventy-eight years. Zambia’s life expectancy is roughly thirty-three years. Does this mean it is impossible for a person in Zambia to have a more fulfilling life than a person in the United States? In Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan conforms externally, but raises questions internally about the value of life, and discovers that it is possible to live a fulfilling life in any span of time if one lives life to its fullest.

In the beginning, Robert is sure of his causes and beliefs, and is willing to sacrifice his life to win the war. But by the end, Robert’s experiences and newfound acquaintances all work in synergy to persuade him otherwise. His companions change the value of human life for him. Anselmo, Pablo, and Robert are killers. They have all taken human life before, but have different views about doing so. For Anselmo, “it is a sin to kill. To take the life of another is…very grave” (Page 41). Religious and idealistic, Anselmo is the type of man Robert would like to look up to, but knows he can never be. No matter which path he takes, he can never parallel the peace-loving Anselmo—Robert has too much to fight for, too much to live for. On...

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