For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls Summary and Analysis of Chapters 8-14

Chapter Eight


Jordan awakes once in the night to find Maria beside him, but in the morning she is gone. Jordan decides to take advantage of his time and sleep but he is awakened when a large configuration of enemy planes pass overhead. This worries all the members of the camp, and Pablo assures him that they have never seen so many planes at once; Jordan is preoccupied and wonders if troops are already being brought in because they have found out about the attack. Jordan ironically notes that this could be the case because "They've known about all the others."

Over breakfast, Jordan orders Anselmo to monitor all the vehicles that pass on the road during the day while he is at El Sordo's camp. Jordan devises a code by which the illiterate Anselmo can keep track of the traffic and thus help determine whether troops are being mobilized for a counter-attack. Jordan then tells Rafael to follow Anselmo so that he can lead Jordan to him upon his return. Fernando then tells Jordan rumors of a loyalist attack- further evidence that that the fascists know about the planned offensive.

Jordan is infuriated by this security leak, and ironically wonders why the Spaniards run this war so haphazarly. The conversation then becomes lighter Fernando's assertion that he did not enjoy his time in Valencia compels Pilar to tell anecdotes about her life of carnal pleasures in Valencia with the bull fighter Finito.


In this section, the enemy aircraft overhead symbolizes the poor odds that the guerillas face. Indeed, the scattered terror the planes produce in these bold people foreshadows disaster. Pilar's story reveals that perhaps she, too, longs for the "good old days" before the war. The contrast between the luxuries of the past and the impending doom of the present create an ominous and sobering mood.

Chapter Nine


The planes are still the main focus of the band's attention, and while they observe the sky Jordan and Pilar discuss Maria. Her promises to be careful with her. Pilar obviously likes Jordan a great deal, as she exalts him above Pablo to Agustin. Pilar, Jordan, and Maria then embark to climb the mountain to El Sordo's camp. There, they hope to enlist the guerilla leader's help in blowing the bridge.


The planes play an important role in increasing the dramatic tension in this chapter. Once again, an animal metaphor describes warfare, as the planes are likened to sharks. Jordan thinks of the planes as "the wide-finned, sharp-nosed sharks of the Gulf Stream. But these, wide-finned in silver, roaring, the light mist of their propellers in the sun, these do not move like sharks. They move like no thing that has ever been. They move like mechanized doom." This metaphor is important because it reaffirms the tone of dread and impending doom that dominates the novel. So too, the fact that these planes are like nothing before them indicates that these warplanes, most likely the German Luftwaffle, will transform Spain, ushering her into a new modern age where she is ruled by violence and a power, like the sharks, yet unknown.

The appearance of the planes also makes time a very important theme in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Pilar, for example, urges Jordan and Maria to make love because "there is not much time." Sexual love and death are in constant juxtaposition, and they are paralleled with night and day. Pilar reminds them not to waste time and of the unknown dangers that threaten to end their bliss when she tells them: "You have the night. But there is the day, too." On one level, Pilar is urging them to spend as much time alone during the day as possible ("you could pick wild strawberries"). On the other hand, she is reminding Jordan of what must be accomplished during the day, the blowing of the bridge, violent physical destruction which is now in direct contrast with the mystical union he has formed with Maria during the night. Jordan's internal battle reveals itself in conversation with Pilar- he speaks to her of duty to the cause but also admits his love for Maria. He seems to question whether the cause is worth losing Maria in death, as he now reveals his preoccupation with the omen Pilar saw in his hand.

Chapter Ten


Jordan, Pilar, and Maria climb the mountain to El Sordo's camp. While Pilar stops to wash her feet in a stream, she tells the story of how Pablo led the revolutionary uprising in his hometown. The story is a brutal description of how the Fascists of the town were forced to run a "gauntlet" of Republican peasants armed with clubs and farming tools. Praying with a priest inside the town administration building, one by one emerged the braver men to be beaten and thrown over a cliff into the river. Finally, when the crowd, mostly composed of frightened or drunk people, became impatient, they stormed the administration building and killed all, including the priest.


This chapter is a small novella in itself, as it is a testimony to the brutal violence men can inflict upon with the apparent loss of the spiritual human connection between men. The tale is one of grim reality, yet it is written in an almost poetic and symbolic prose.

One symbol is the position of the characters half way up the mountain. Pilar points out that one can only go up or down on a mountain; this connotes the themes of life versus death, good versus bad, love versus war, and night versus day in the novel. It is very hard to be in between, as the characters are now, and forced to look at ambiguous and gray reality. A related symbol is the bird called the water wagtail that only goes up and down and is good for nothing else because it is inedible and does not sing. Pilar's insistence upon comparing her ugliness to Maria's beauty is also related to the theme of contrasts.

Another poignant symbol is the harvesting tools the Republican peasants use to torture the Fascists. These weapons are significant, as they symbolize the lowly origins of those who have risen to power. Also, the act of harvesting, separating the bad from the good, is alluded to by the harvesting tools. Thus, we see that the Fascists are dehumanized, like "bad seeds" whose removal will promote a crop of liberty.

The metaphor of separating the good from the bad relates to the nature theme. The fascists are thrown into the river to die, thus swallowed up by the earth from which they were reaped. Thus, nature is once more the only law that men should live by; the Republican violence is a natural force of renewal, as are acts of violence in nature.

It is interesting to note, however, that natural competition never ends. The revolution creates the same competitive struggle for ascendancy and power as existed in the capitalist world it tries to replace. Pilar herself is a metaphor for this as she struggles to watch the proceedings while balancing on a chair, struggling with her comrade for a view. Indeed, this chapter reveals some of the darkest aspects of human nature, including selfishness and ruthlessness.

Hemingway seems to criticize the hypocrisy of the mob mentality with his ironic lines: "it would have been better for the town if they had thrown over twenty or thirty of the drunkardsŠbut in the next days we were to learn." Hemingway's descriptive prose also shows how fearsome a mob can be: "it was as though the mob were on my back as the devil is on your back in a dream."

Chapter Eleven


At El Sordo's camp, Jordan and Pilar convince the deaf old guerilla leader to help them blow the bridge. El Sordo does not like the fact that they have to complete the mission during the day because it will be very difficult to escape unharmed. El Sordo also has disturbing news from Segovia: the Fascists know about the Republican offensive, and many troops are being mobilized towards the bridge. El Sordo also points out that horses will be needed for their escape.


Hemingway's characterization of El Sordo is important, as he is the archetype of the rugged guerilla leader. His looks seem equal to the strength of his character: "he was clean shaven and he walked toward them from the mouth of the cave, moving with the bow-legged walk that went with his cattle herdsman's breeches and boots." Indeed, Hemingway the writer seems to make his presence clear through the thoughts of Jordan. For example, he observes the figures of Pilar, Maria, and Joaquin, one of Sordo's men, from a distance and says that they are representations of both tradition and change in Spain. Jordan's own aspirations to write as well as Pilar can tell a story are a subtle means of Hemingway to show that there is much of his own personality in Robert Jordan.

"If that woman could only write. He would try to write it and if he had luck and could remember it perhaps he could get it down as she told it."

Thus, Hemingway subtly confirms that much of the action in For Whom the Bell Tolls is based on his own observations of the Spanish Civil War.

Chapter Twelve


Returning to Pablo's camp, Maria tries to convince the visibly tired Pilar to rest. Pilar angrily tells the girl to "shut up" but, on the verge of fainting, concedes. They rest in a clearing and Pilar apologizes to Maria and explains that she is jealous that Maria is no longer hers. Maria displays much love and acceptance of Pilar. She is not angered but rather reassures Pilar that her jealousy "was not sillyŠand my head is well where it is." Thus, Maria still regards Pilar as a mother and remains seated with her head in Pilar's lap. She then leaves them, alluding that she prefers the couple stay behind so that they can again make love. She brushes off her anger by saying that she was upset because she noticed her ugliness in Joaquin's repulsed look. While Jordan tries to persuade her to let the group walk together, Pilar insinuates to Maria, who waits with her head lowered under the tree, that she too will not always be nineteen. Maria seems to understand Pilar's insinuations about the importance of being with ones lover before the battle comes. When Jordan tries to follow her, Maria shouts at him, "let her go!"


Pilar's stormy outburst further complicates the tangle of relationships that have arisen quickly during Jordan's arrival, the day before, at camp. Although Pilar supports Jordan over Pablo in their conflict of ideas- whether or not to risk the danger of bombing the bridge- Pilar now admits jealousy towards Jordan. Whereas Hemingway portrays sharp glances and sarcastic remarks from the other men when they notice that Pilar does not fiercely guard Maria around Jordan as she does with them, he now reveals that Pilar herself has hidden hostility about the love affair.

What is notable about this jealously is that Pilar does not want to possess Jordan, but rather Maria, the girl her caring saved from death. A few of the lines even go so far as to indicate that Pilar might have a hidden homosexual love for Maria: " ŒHe can have thee,' Pilar said and ran her finger around the lobe of the girl's ear, but I am very jealous.' ŒBut Pilar,' Maria said. ŒIt was thee explained to me there was nothing like that between us.' ŒThere is always something like that,' the woman said. ŒThere is always something like something there should not beŠ'" It is important to notice the ambiguity of this exchange. While touching Maria on the ear could be perceived as a gesture of sexual attraction, it could also be a sign of motherly affection. The allusion to a past conversation shows that it might have been the traumatized Maria who turned to Pilar for an extension of their platonic love. The repetition of "something" and the layers of allusion in the line "something like something" give a direct hint to the reader against quickly interpreting the jealousy of Pilar or the women's relationship.

An important metaphor in this chapter is the snow on the mountains at which Pilar gazes during her confession. She says, "What rotten stuff is snow and how beautiful it looksŠwhat an illusion is the snow." Indeed, the snow is a metaphor for the masking of horror with splendor; specifically then, it contributes to the theme of the cause of the republic merely being a hollow reason for death.

Another important symbol in this chapter is the daylight. Pilar specifically states that "in the daytime" she can confess her jealousy to Maria. Thus, a symbolic contrast between night and day is established: night is the time for covert action and feelings, while day represents truth. Also, as the character of Pilar represents passion for the cause and for physical pleasure, she not reveals the danger of passion when she says she is "so simple I am very complicated." Thus, the reader wonders if Pilar's love of the republic could ever falter as well. Jordan's response, that he is neither simple nor complicated, alludes that his character as well might experience a moral crisis and be forced to follow or abandon his feelings. Indeed, Pilar's crisis of conscience over Maria is symbolic of questions one might feel about the love of the republic.

Chapter Thirteen


Jordan and Maria walk, lovers-style, through the forest. They end up making love in a clearing, and describe their passion as "the earth moved." Jordan is now completely enamored with Maria, and thinks about taking her back with him to Montana. He wonders if he will even be welcome back there after fighting for the communists.

When they find Pilar, she makes them reveal a detail about their time together. When she learns that the earth moved, Pilar superstitiously tells them that they will have that experience only three times in their lives. As the chapter closes, it begins to snow, even though it is May. Thus, they note that their retreat will not be invisible to their enemies, for they will leave tracks in the snow.


In this chapter we see that the love between Maria and Jordan has many mystical or religious elements. Not only does it purify Maria of her past experiences, but also, for Robert Jordan, physically loving Maria is a celebration of the senses. Indeed, after making love to Maria in the forest Jordan seems reaffirmed in his belief of living for the moment: "There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrowŠthere is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion." Not only do these lines formulate Hemingway's religious theme for the novel, but it also explains why it is not improbable that, with perhaps only two more days to live, the love affair between Maria and Jordan developed so quickly.

Pilar makes both Maria and Jordan confess to her how their time together was not to emphasize the vulgar tendencies of her character, as it may appear, but rather to contrast her character with Jordan. Pilar's mysticism, for example when she says "such a thing can happen only three times in a lifetime" is contrasted with Jordan's continual refusal to admit that his inner trepidation of the inexplicable. Jordan, despite his new feelings of physical and emotional ties with Maria and the seedlings of doubt about the fate of the mission, must fulfill his duty at all costs. To do this, it seems that he must fulfill the role of the code hero in words as well as deeds, thus he says "focus less on mysteries and more on work."

Chapter Fourteen


When Jordan, Pilar, and Maria return to camp, the snow is falling heavily. A drunken Pablo greets Jordan and tells him "with this thy offensive goes, Ingles." Although he appears outwardly calm and reassures Maria that there is no use in worrying, Jordan is enraged by Pablo's snide remarks. He curses his luck to be involved in such an inefficient war and to have the bad luck to be caught in a snowstorm. Jordan takes the opportunity to ask Pablo about his past. Pablo tells Jordan that he was "always for the left" and that he used to furnish horses for the bullfighting rings. He met Pilar when she was traveling with the bullfighter Finito.

Pilar then picks up the threads of the story, and tells of how she stayed faithful (almost, she concedes) for five years until Finito died, and then she became Pablo's woman. At the end of the chapter Rafael comes in and reports the locations of various Fascist watches in the area. He reports "nothing out of the ordinary." Jordan then recruits Fernando to accompany him to relieve Anselmo from his day-long watch by the road.


The snow is very important element, as it is nature's sudden upsets, and not the disunity of the band, that ultimately cause the hiding place of El Sordo to be discovered, thus destroying Jordan's hope of backup. Thus, Jordan is truly alone, unable to depend upon man or nature; this reaffirms the theme of the isolation of man in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

The snowstorm is also a metaphor for the anti-thesis of warfare- not so much peace as a unity with nature. "It was like the excitement of battle except that it was cleanŠin a snowstorm it always seemed, for a time, that there were no enemies. Indeed, the snow metaphor reveals that Jordan has a great of a need for purification as Maria. He obsesses over the snow's cleansing powers with words such as "white cleanness" and "stillness." Jordan's resignation to enjoy the storm, despite the fact that "it ruined everything" and could ultimately cause his death is ironic. Perhaps he, like Pablo before him, is beginning to wish for a way out of the war. As we saw in the previous chapter, Jordan's spirituality has helped him rationalize living life for only two more days, if it is lived to the fullest. Thus, as he is quick to make love to Maria whenever he can, he will enjoy the power of nature despite the threat it poses to his mission.

Pilar's flashback to the bullfight is another important metaphor for warfare in this chapter. Unlike the peace of the storm, the bullfight is a metaphor for the violence that permeates Spain, not only in times of war, but within its very culture and social structure. The bullfight indeed alludes to how quickly a life is risked, and how death does not matter as much as if one dies honorably. Thus, the reader understands why the peasants were ready to die for the cause, but why they now have grown weary, the glory days of the Republic over.

Pilar's story also gives us a glimpse into her own character: we see that the rock hard patriotism might be cracking a little, but that even she will not admit this to herself. "Neither bull force nor bull courage lasted, she knew now, and what did last? I last, she thoughtŠbut for what?" She quickly dismisses these thoughts, but the reader knows that she is disturbed by her own question of her life's dedication to Republicanism by the manner in which she brusquely snaps at Maria to care for the fire. "This is a fire to cook with. Not to burn down a city." The quick wit masks self-doubt.