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Free Study Guide-For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway-BookNotes
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CHAPTERS 28 - 37


The planes depart after shelling the hilltop. Not knowing what has transpired, Jordan watches the planes and, with dramatic irony, hopes that Sordo's band is safe. Maria brings food, but Primitivo says he has lost his appetite. He is feeling guilty for not having gone to Sordo's aid. Jordan explains again that if they had tried to help Sordo, they themselves would have been killed.

Jordan suddenly notices the fascist cavalry as it returns from the attack on Sordo and his men. Lieutenant Berrendo, who is riding at the head of the column, seems to be in a depressed state, obviously bothered by his barbaric behavior. He tries to justify cutting off the heads of the dead to himself by saying that he needed proof of the victory and identification of the dead. Trying to think of something else, he starts praying for his deceased comrade.

Anselmo, while returning from La Granja, passes the hill where the slaughter has taken place and sees the headless bodies. As he heads towards Pablo's camp to give the gruesome news, he prays for the first time in many years. When he enters camp, Jordan notices that Anselmo seems nervous and offers him some whisky. Anselmo then reports that the calvary has entered La Granja after the attack on El Sordo. He also tells about seeing the headless bodies at El Sordo's camp.

Jordan is troubled by Anselmo's reports and decides to send a message to General Golz, even though it will have to cross enemy lines. When he wonders who should carry the message, Anselmo suggests Andres. In his note to Golz, Jordan tries to convince the general to delay or cancel the planned attack in light of what has happened; but he chooses his words carefully so that he will not appear to be afraid. When he dispatches the message with Andres, he explains that he will probably have to search for Golz, who has surely gone underground. After Andres is gone, Jordan does not lie to himself. He realizes that Golz probably will not cancel the attack, and he will have to destroy the bridge as planned.

Jordan reminisces about his grandfather and the war stories he told. He recalls that he owned a Smith and Wesson, which he kept in a cabinet drawer. It was the gun that Jordan's father used to killed himself. He then wonders if there is such a thing as an afterlife. If there is, Jordan hopes that he will meet his grandfather again; but he thinks that he would be embarrassed to see his own father, whom he considers to be a coward for taking his own life.

Still anxious about the course of events, Jordan retires for the evening. Maria joins him in bed, but she is unable to make love. Jordan tries to be very understanding and assures her that being together is what is important; however, he feels that their lack of lovemaking is a bad sign, for it may be their last night together. Jordan still talks to Maria as if they have a future. They discuss getting married and going to Madrid after the mission is accomplished. Maria, however, tells him that Pilar has said that everyone will be killed during the destruction of the bridge. Jordan is angry at Pilar for saying such a thing to Maria. Maria then talks about her past. She reveals how she was captured, tied, gagged, beaten, and raped by the enemy. Jordan tries to comfort her, but he is livid with the fascists. He promises her that he will kill many of them as he demolishes the bridge.

The scene shifts to Madrid, where a car pulls up outside Hotel Gaylord. Karkov emerges and enters the building. He goes straight to his apartment, which is buzzing with people. He first greets his wife and then walks up to his mistress to talk to her. She inquires if she can go with him on the offensive the next day. Karkov tries to convince her that there is not going to be an offensive, but to no avail. She tells him there is no need to be secretive, for everyone knows about it. A man comes up to Karkov and gives him the news that the fascists have been fighting among themselves near Segovia. At 2:00 the next morning, Karkov leaves for the place from where Golz would be attacking.

Back at Pablo's camp, Jordan is awakened by a distraught Pilar. She informs him that Pablo has stolen some equipment from the sacks and departed. It is obvious that she feels guilty that it has happened, for she was to have watched the sacks. When Jordan inspects the sacks, he finds the exploder, detonators, fuse, and caps missing. He then discovers that Pablo has also stolen two horses. Even though he is upset, Jordan tells Pilar to go back to sleep. He then takes the sacks with him to where he is sleeping and scolds himself for not taking more precautions against Pablo.

The scene next shifts to Andres, who is walking through enemy territory on his way to deliver Jordan's message to Golz. As he looks around, it is obvious that the fascists are better equipped than the loyalists. To pass the time, Andres thinks about his childhood and the bullfights in his hometown. Although he looked forward to the bullfight for the entire year, he was always pleased when it rained and cancelled the performances. He hated for either the matador or the bull to be killed. In a similar manner, he wants to be back from delivering the message in time for the attack; but at the same time, he hopes that he is late and misses it.

When Andres reaches Golz's post, he is challenged by the guards. He has a hard time convincing them that he is from Pablo's band and has been sent with an important message for General Golz. When they are sure he is not an enemy, one of the guards leads him to Golz's camp.


This section begins with the reappearance of Lieutenant Berrendo. He is feeling guilty and depressed about his barbaric behavior in severing the heads of the dead men in El Sordo's band and tries to justify his actions to himself. Ironically, he prays - not for his own soul, but for his comrade who was killed in the attack. At approximately the same time, Anselmo passes by the headless bodies outside El Sordo's camp. Although he has not prayed in years and claims to be an atheist, he immediately begins to say prayers when he encounters the horror. Even though both men are sickened by the violence inflicted on El Sordo's band, they both remain loyal to their cause.

After Jordan learns from Anselmo what has happened, he dispatches a message for Golz, begging him to delay or cancel the attack. He knows the chances of their surviving the attack and the destruction of the bridge are very small. No longer as devoted to the cause or as willing to loose his life, Jordan dreams of a future, which he can spend with Maria. At this point, Jordan fully gains the readers' sympathy, for he comes across as a pawn in the game of war.

The rational Jordan does not lie to himself. He knows that Golz will not cancel the attack. He also realizes he will probably not emerge from his mission alive, and even if he does, the chance of escape is miniscule. Jordan feels trapped and helpless to do anything about it; he knows that tragedy lies ahead, but he cannot avert it. Then when he learns that Pablo has stolen some of the equipment and deserted the cause, Jordan is even more certain of his inability to survive and is furious with himself for ever trusting Pablo.

More is learned about the pasts of Jordan and Maria. Jordan has warm memories of his grandfather and hopes to see him again if there is an afterlife. He also reveals that his own father shot himself; the suicide has caused Jordan to resent him ever since, for he feels it was an act of cowardice. He even thinks that he would be embarrassed to face his father again in the afterlife. Maria reveals that her father was a mayor and that both her parents sacrificed their lives fighting for the Republican cause. She also talks about how she was captured and raped by the fascists, which infuriates Jordan.

This section is filled with irony. Even though Maria and Jordan both feel there is not much chance to survive the attack, they talk about their future together. They want to marry and go to Madrid. Sadly, on their last night together, Maria is unable to make love. Jordan shows his kindness when he tells her that it is not important; to him what counts is simply being together. It is very ironic that while Jordan and Maria lie together planning a future that will probably not materialize, Loyalists leaders are having a party in Madrid; they seem unconcerned about the lives that are being risked to fight their war. They also show their lack of knowledge of what is really happening in the war, for they think that the battle between El Sordo and the fascists is really the fascists fighting among themselves.

Hemingway devotes much attention to Andres as he passes through fascist territory. As he looks at the enemy, he sees them as human beings, just like himself. He is glad that he has been sent with the message and hopes that he does not get back in time for the attack. He compares this feeling to the one he had about bullfights as a child. Although he looked forward to the day of the bullfight, when he would be expected to bait the bulls, he would always feel relieved when the bullfight was cancelled by rain, for it meant that he would escape baiting the bulls and he, the matador, and the bulls would all be spared. Now he realizes that he would like for the offensive to be cancelled; then both the Republicans and the Fascists could be spared. It is ironic that when he reaches the Republican post, the guards assume him to be a fascist. He is almost killed trying to make them believe he is a Republican.

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