for whom the bell tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

By Ernest Hemingway

I read the book "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway. This story takes place in the mountains of Spain during the Spanish civil war. The main character, Robert Jordan, is an American that is stationed behind fascist lines with a band of guerillas. Jordan was a Spanish professor at the University of Montana before the war. Now he has become a dynamiter for the Republic which opposes the fascists. Jordan was sent there by General Golz to blow a bridge that will cut off the reinforcements of the fascists after the Republic has launched it's major offensive on the Capital of one of the provinces. That is the plot of the story, it has a love interest involved, deceit, death and many twists involved.

The story begins when Robert Jordan first arrives in the hills of Spain and is taken by Anselmo to the bridge that he is to blow and shows him the obstacles he must overcome. There are 2 sentry boxes, one on each end of the bridge, and a sawmill which contains 4-5 soldiers. Anselmo then leads him to where he meets Pablo, the leader of the guerilla band. He is then led by Pablo back to their camp where he meets the other members of the band. It is at the camp where he meets Maria who he is told they found hiding after the blowing up of a train that this guerilla band had done a while ago. The train was done by another foreigner who was dead now. Jordan shot him at his own request because he was wounded and had a fear of being captured. He is then taken to the camp of El Sordo who is to help them in the bombing of the bridge. Earlier he had learned how vicious this band had been. They had captured a city in the mountains and first had executed all the guards by lining them up and shooting them in the back of their heads with their own guns and then taking all the fascist party members out of their homes and sending them through 2 lines of people where they were beaten to death and then thrown over the side of a cliff. Jordan then continues to fall in love with Maria and Pilar who is her protector gives her to Jordan and they make love and then they are always together.

Pilar takes the leadership of the band from Pablo and is now the new leader of the band of guerilla's. There has been a lot of heated debate over whether or not to kill Pablo now because some see him as a threat now that he has become a drunk and a coward. Jordan decides in favor of not killing him and Pablo just leaves but later returns and apologizes.

It is now getting closer and closer to the day of the attack and Jordan is starting to get a little nervous and is wondering if it is possible or if the fascists have found out about the plan because he had sent a spy to gather information in a local town and when he returned he told Jordan that many people in town knew of the attack. The increased sightings of planes moving did not comfort his mind either. It is now in the book that you learn that Russia has been involved in this war also as has been the Germans and the Italians. Jordan talks about a hotel in one of the besieged cities and of the illegal fine dining establishments that the city contains and he tells Maria that after the operation they would be married and would live in the hotel for a while and then move to an apartment overlooking the park and would eat out and then they would hire a maid to clean and cook. Then it began snowing and continued snowing all night and didn't stop until early morning. Jordan had decided to sleep outside in his heavy duty sleeping bag and he had Maria sleep there with him. Early in the morning something awoke him. It was the sound of a horse coming through the deep snow and Jordan took out his gun and then a calvary man rode up and saw Jordan but was dead before he could even reach for his gun. Pablo took the horse and led it out of the area so that if anyone else came they would see the tracks and keep on going not suspecting anything. They then set up their machine gun because Jordan knew more would come and more did come but they did not come withing range of the machine gun. They then heard firing and the sound of grenades. The calvary had found El Sordo's camp and were attacking them. El Sordo held out for a long time entrenched on the top of a small hill but nothing could of protected them from the bombing from the planes that finally killed them. The Calvary beheaded all five members of his band and put the heads in a bag and left. Now Jordan was five members short and things continued to get worse because one of his spies reported seeing the fascists moving soldiers and tanks and anti-aircraft guns away from where the attack was going to take place and this made Jordan think that the Fascist's knew of the attack so he sent a courier to General Golz that told him of the movements and hoped that the attack would be canceled. To make things worse, during the night before the attack Pablo had become scared and had run off with the blowing caps, detonator and some explosives. This made Jordan very nervous because now he had no way to blow the TNT but with the grenades. Top his relief Pablo found some courage and returned with five men from various bands in the mountains. He had thrown the detonator and blowing caps over the cliff though. Everything was all set now, all they had to do was wait for the sound of the bombing which signified the beginning of the offensive.

General Golz had gotten Jordan's letter too late to stop the attack and it was on. When they had heard the bombing they attacked, killing the sentries and placing the bombs they waited. When they saw a truck approaching they blew the bridge. At the end of the bridge blowing they had lost Fernando, Anselmo, and the five members of the other bands. While they were making their getaway they had to cross the road on which there was a traffic jam because it led to the bridge and when they went across it they drew the attention of a tank and it began firing on them and one shell blew Jordan's horse onto him and snapped his leg, he wished to be left there and that is how the book ends, we don't know exactly what happened to Jordan.

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