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Free Study Guide-For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway-BookNotes
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CHAPTERS 14 - 20


By the time Jordan, Maria, and Pilar arrive at Pablo's cave, it is snowing heavily. Pablo seems to derive pleasure from the fact that the snow may hamper Jordan's mission. Jordan ignores Pablo's sneering and asks Maria if supper is ready. As Pablo continues with his taunting, Pilar tells Jordan not to pay him any heed, for he is drunk.

To change the subject, Jordan asks Pablo what he did before he joined the cause. Pablo tells him that he used to supply houses for the army and bullfighters. It was around that time that he met Pilar, who was with the matador Finito de Palencia. One of guerillas mockingly says that Finito was not much of a bullfighter. Pilar is offended by the criticism and begins reminiscing about him. She says that Finito was a poor man who tired to elevate his position in the social hierarchy by becoming a bullfighter. She also says that he came down with tuberculosis because of the kind of life he led. As Pilar talks of Finito, Rafael returns. He explains where Anselmo is posted, so that Jordan can find him.

Anselmo is crouched in a tree trunk, waiting to be relieved. Because of the snow, he is miserable, but he does not leave his post. He does, however, envy the fascists in the sawmill. The smoke coming out of its chimney indicates that its inhabitants are warm and comfortable, in contrast to him. Hemingway shifts the scene to inside the sawmill, where several fascists are talking. It is obvious from the description and conversation that these men are simply poor human beings trying to do their job, just like Anselmo. They are aware that they are lucky to be inside the sawmill rather than outside in the freezing cold; but they also know that they will soon be outside fighting.

The scene shifts back to Anselmo. Although he closely watches the movement on the road, he cannot distinguish to whom the cars belong; he does not know if it is an officer or lowly soldier who passes. As he watches the blur of movement, his thoughts turn to the sinfulness of war. He thinks that some penance must be done for all the killing; after all, the enemy is comprised of human beings. His thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Jordan, who is pleased to see the dutiful Anselmo at his post. He relieves him of the guard, and they walk back to the cave together.

When Jordan enters the cave, Pilar informs him that El Sordo had come to see him. He was on his way to steal some horses for the mission. Pablo then tries to provoke Jordan again about his mission, but Primitivo intervenes and changes the subject. He asks what they raise in America. Jordan explains that cattle, sheep, grains, and beans are popular on American farms. They then discuss agrarian reforms in the United States. Andres interrupts to ask if they have self-driven capitalists in America. Jordan admits to the presence of capitalism and the exploitation that exists because of this.

Talk then turns to fascism. Jordan says that people must be educated so that they can recognize and combat fascism. Andres jokes that there are no fascists left in Pablo's town, an obvious reference to the massacre described earlier. Pablo amazingly confesses that he feels bad about the atrocities that he has committed and wishes that there were a way in which he could restore the dead to life. Pilar rebukes him for entertaining such self-defeating thoughts.

When Pablo starts to pick on Jordan again, he wishes he could kill the guerilla leader. With Agustin's help, he tries to provoke Pablo, so that he will have a reason to shoot him. Pablo, however, does not take the bait. Instead, he races outside, and the others fear he is deserting them and the cause. After Pablo is gone, everyone in the cave, except for Fernando, encourages Jordan to go after Pablo and murder him. Fernando, however, feels that holding Pablo as a prisoner will suffice. The others argue that they do not have adequate manpower to guard an imprisoned Pablo. Rafael then suggests that they blind Pablo and sell him to the enemy. Pilar is embarrassed by such an indecent suggestion.

Pablo again enters the cave, silencing the discussion. He is grinning and addresses them in a friendly manner. He then states that he has changed his mind and is going to fully support the cause once again. He even offers to assist Jordan in blowing up the bridge; he also promises to help with the escape and retreat from the fascists. Not wanting to get into a fight with Pablo, Jordan starts working on the plans for the operation. Maria sits next to him and watches him work.

When he is through with his work, Jordan starts thinking about what he will do after his mission is accomplished. He also thinks of the past and reminisces about his conversations with Karkov, a Russian novelist. His thoughts also turn to Kashkin, his predecessor. He hopes that his outcome will be better than that of Kashkin. He asks Maria if she liked Kashkin. She replies that she found him handsome.

Talk turns to the mystical. The men in the cave discuss the subject of premonitions and whether a man can see his death in advance. Jordan answers that he does not believe in soothsayers or supernatural things. Pilar disagrees with him. She says that she believes in prescience and claims to have smelled death on Kashkin before he was shot.

Jordan notices that that it has stopped snowing and comments that El Sordo must be leaving tracks in the snow as he steals horses. He then goes outside to make his bed in the snow. Maria joins him later.


When it begins to snow, Jordan immediately knows his mission is endangered even further. Even if the operation succeeds and they manage to escape, the fascists can easily track them down because of their footprints in the snow. Pablo seems to take a particular delight in the fact that it is snowing. He still hopes that Jordan's mission is a failure.

Jordan is so frustrated with Pablo that he tries to engage him in a fight so that he will have an excuse to kill him. Pablo seems to realize what Jordan is doing and does not let himself grow angry. Instead, he goes outside to tend his horses once again. When he comes back inside, he claims that he has had a change of heart and has decided to support Jordan's mission and help with their escape; however, no one really trusts Pablo or his words.

Anselmo proves himself to be as faithful to the cause as ever. In spite of the snow, he continues to stand guard, watching the enemy movement on the road even though he cannot see clearly enough to really know what is going on. As he thinks about the fascists, he realizes that they are men just like himself and he dreads the thought of having to kill any of them. He is sad that he cannot make himself chant prayers for comfort.

There is a great deal of conversation and discussion about both past and present in these chapters. Pablo thinks about the bloody massacre in which he killed many of the enemy; he says he wishes he could do something to bring them back to life. It is perhaps his most human moment in the entire novel. Pilar talks about Finito, the matador whom she was with before she met Pablo. Like Hemingway, she glorifies bullfighting and believes that a matador is deserving of his elevated place in Spanish society. She also comments on the injustice of poverty and says it is not surprising that Finito died of tuberculosis, for he lived a hard and impoverished life.

Jordan talks about the fact that he has been a teacher of Spanish. Fernando thinks it is ridiculous that anyone other than a native teaches a foreign language. Jordan next reflects on his previous conversations with a novelist and mentions that he himself has published a book. He also thinks about the time he spent at Gaylord's, the meeting place of the Communists, and wonders if he will ever return there to further his education. Jordan then thinks about the death of Kashkin, hoping he will not meet the same fate. There is also a discussion about farming and capitalism. Jordan admits that capitalism and exploitation of workers are prevalent in America. In addition, there is talk about the supernatural, and Jordan ironically says he is not superstitious, even though he is always talking about "signs

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