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Free Study Guide-For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway-BookNotes
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CHAPTERS 38 - 43


Inside the cave, Pilar sews the slits on the sacks. Jordan picks out four grenades and inquires where they came from, for he wants to make certain they are reliable. Eladio informs him that they are expensive grenades that Anselmo got from the Republic.

Pilar vouches for their efficiency. While sorting out the grenades, Robert reflects on the impossibility of the success of his mission. There are slim chances of anyone surviving the destruction of the bridge, and he does not want to deceive himself into believing otherwise. He feels bad for endangering the lives of others.

The brave Pilar insists upon taking Pablo's place and carrying out his job. They are preparing to leave when Pablo enters the cave. He explains to Pilar that his conscience would not allow him to desert his people. He then confesses to Jordan that he has thrown the stolen equipment in the river. As a conciliatory gesture, he has brought five men from other guerilla bands to assist them in the mission, and they are all prepared to go to work immediately. As Pilar and the men silently climb the hill in the dark, Pablo tells Jordan not to talk about failure, for the five new men believe the mission will be successful.

The scene again switches to Andres, who is making slow progress inside the Republican lines. The company commander is very suspicious and takes Andres to the battalion commander, Gomez. On meeting Andres and learning about the mission, the enthusiastic Gomez sends his orderly to bring his motorcycle. He then takes Andres to the brigade headquarters, where they ask to see General Golz. When the officer refuses to call Golz, Gomez holds a pistol to his head; therefore, an orderly is sent to bring the Lieutenant Colonel. After he carefully inspects Andres' papers, he issues a dispatch giving them permission to meet Gen. Golz.

The scene switches back to Jordan and the others as they approach the bridge. Much to Pilar's irritation, Jordan reminds her that they cannot begin the destruction of the bridge until they hear the bombardment of the attack. He also explains the timing to Pablo of the timing. Pablo then reminds Jordan that they do not have enough horses for the escape. After giving final instructions to the men, Jordan goes to say good-bye to Maria. Feeling very emotional, he is embarrassed at his own sensitivity and is reminded of his father's emotion when he sent him off to school for the first time.

After leaving Maria, Jordan joins Anselmo and Agustin, and they walk downhill together. They notice that a fire has been lit on the other side of the bridge in the enemy camp. Agustin and Anselmo take up their posts, and Jordan lies on the forest floor waiting for daylight.

The scene again switches to Andres and Gomez, who are still attempting to find General Golz. When they reach a big stone building, they are stopped by two sentries, guarding the gate. As they are talking to one of the sentries, a big staff car pulls up and a man emerges. Gomez recognizes him as the great revolutionary figure who had led the mutiny of the French Navy in the Black Sea. Gomez is sure that the man can guide them to Golz's headquarters. Unfortunately, the man is half-mad due to his thwarted ambitions and disappointments. When Gomez approaches him, he orders both Andres and Gomez to be arrested and brought to his room. After he has left, the guard discloses to Gomez that the man is insane and that the arrest order will not be followed. He also tells them that the man is famous for shooting people.

Gomez impresses on the guard the urgency of Andres' message and the need to deliver it quickly to General Golz. The guard promises to find a responsible person to help them.

As they wait, the commander returns and demands that Andres and Gomez come to his room. Andres tries to explain the mission to him and their need to find General Golz.

The scene switches back to the bridge. Jordan is lying on the forest floor waiting for dawn. He wonders whether Andres has delivered his message to Golz and if he has cancelled the attack. Then he admonishes himself for entertaining such frivolous thoughts. Suddenly the bombing commences. Jordan immediately responds by shooting and killing the sentry guarding the bridge. He also hears the gunfire of the other members of his group. Jordan climbs down to the bridge to start the demolition process. He scolds himself when he feels his hands shaking and admits to himself that he hated killing the sentry. Calming himself, he carefully lays the wires on one side of the bridge and then does the same on the other side. After he finishes wiring the grenades, he hands over the wire to Anselmo. He tells him he must pull it hard to blow up the bridge at the appropriate time. Jordan then notices Primitivo and Rafael, who are supporting Fernando. He has been shot in the groin. Fernando insists that they simply leave him.

Jordan tells Anselmo to blow the bridge when the armed cars approach. While Jordan lays the final wiring at the center of the bridge, Anselmo lies back and sees Primitivo and Fernando arguing. Fernando is saying that he knows he will not be able to escape and should be left behind with a rifle to fight the enemy. As Jordan is walking back, he notices a truck approaching. He signals Anselmo to pull the wire. Suddenly, the midsection of the bridge rises and falls into the gorge. When the scene clears, Jordan looks up to see that Anselmo is dead. He is upset, for he knows that had Pablo not thrown away the exploder, Anselmo would not have been killed.

Pilar goes to Maria, who has been praying for Jordan's safety. She tells the girl that Jordan is safe. At the same time, the enemy planes approach. Jordan goes over to where Agustin is positioned, and they wait for Pablo to come. When Pablo arrives, they hurry to where Maria is waiting with the horses. She is overwhelmed with emotion on seeing Jordan alive.

Everyone mounts a horse and rides through the forest towards the road. As they are crossing the road, soldiers start firing machine guns from behind. As Jordan starts climbing the slopes, a shell hits him and the horse he is riding. He is thrown to the ground, unable to move from where he has fallen. Primitivo and Agustin carry him for some distance. Maria is beside herself to see Jordan injured.

Jordan, knowing that he now has no chance of escape due to his injury, convinces the others that they should go ahead without him. He promises to delay the fascists by firing at them from his position on the ground. Everyone agrees to depart, but Maria. She is unwilling to leave Jordan alone to die. Jordan pleads with her to save herself so that his mission will not seem futile to him. With reluctance, she finally agrees to depart with the others.

Before leaving, Agustin tells Jordan that he is willing to shoot him if he wants, so he will not have to face the fascist enemy. Jordan refuses the offer, saying he will be useful to the rest of them by delaying the fascists with gunfire. While the others depart, Jordan positions himself behind a tree. When the book ends, he is waiting for Lt. Berrendo and his men to come within firing range. Although he knows his end is near, he is determined to go out with a fight.

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