For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapters 36-43 Summary and Analysis | GradeSaver (2022) (2022)

Buy Study Guide

Chapter 36


At the post, the Loyalist soldiers delay Andres by questioning his legitimacy. After questioning him about the camp and the fate of El Sordo, and even threatening him with death, the soldier Gomez, finally agrees to take Andres to Golz.


This chapter is a critic of the power that is given to undeserving people during war. Hemingway skillfully portrays the ignorance and lack of seriousness of the soldiers and the general lack of interest in the war. Hemingway makes the danger of such a situation clear when Andres says: "He did not like these people who were like dangerous children; dirty, foul, undisciplined, kind, loving, silly and ignorant but always dangerous because they were armed." Again, we see a stereotypical characterization of the Spaniards.

Chapter 37


Maria and Jordan awake in the morning. Her pain now gone, Maria urges Jordan to make love to her. They agree that their love is rare, and that they are fortunate. Jordan thinks about dying and leaving their love behind. Maria tells him she would like to fight by his side, but he tells her she has helped enough.


Jordan now seems convinced that he has lived his whole life in three days. He has even formed a family: the guerillas are his brothers; Maria is his wife. The description of their love is almost like a poem, for it is constructed of repeated words, particularly "now" and "one." The rhythm alludes to that of their bodies, as the stream-of conscious release of words reveal Jordan's preoccupation with living in the moment and his celebration of their unity: "always now, always now, for now always one now."

Chapter 38


It is the morning of the bridge mission, and the atmosphere at the cave is grim. The men make snide comments to each other to relieve their tension. Jordan is worried now that his plan won't work. Jordan does not have enough men and Pablo stole the equipment he needed to blow the bridge correctly. It is highly unlikely that the attack will be postponed, even if Andres does deliver the message to General Golz. To ease his fear, Pilar tells him that her palm reading is only superstition. Jordan does not appreciate her efforts and reproaches her. At the end of the chapter, he and the men admit to each other that they are all equally very scared.

Pablo returns at the end of the chapter, accompanied by five extra men and their horses. He explains his flight as a moment of weakness, but reasserts his pride by telling them "at bottom I am not a coward." Jordan is grateful that the mission now has a chance for success, and Pilar reveals her tender feelings for Pablo by telling him "thou art welcome." He talks to her as if the others are not present, telling her he found his old self when he was forced to be alone. Pilar believes that his courage has returned, and lets him know she is pleased by telling him, "I believe thou art backŠbut, hombre, thou wert a long way gone."


There is much religious imagery associated with Pablo's turn; he is likened to the traitor of Christ. "Thy predecessor Judas Iscariot hanged himself," Pilar tells him. Indeed, considering the obsession with the time of day, as analyzed in previously, and Jordan's willing "martyrdom" for the Cause, we see that the Jordan-Pablo conflict is a parallel to the story of Christ's betrayal.

Hemingway also treats the new recruits with much irony. Pablo tells Pilar that his men are how she prefers them, or in other words: "good ones and stupids. Ready to die and all." This line has double layers of irony. For one, Pablo is speaking bitterly about his own self, now returned to Pilar's graces because he is willing to die for the Cause. Also, Hemingway is commenting on the cynical way even the peasants themselves viewed the war. You either had to be either a martyr or a fool to be a member of the guerilla band.

Chapter 39


Pablo tells Jordan that the men think he is still the leader, and warns him not to "disillusion" them. Jordan agrees, but feels uneasy about completely trusting Pablo. Jordan then thinks about how his confidence has been restored since Pablo returned to the cave. He feels he is fortunate to have "the talent that fitted him for war," or the ability to ignore the threat of harm.

The two conflicting sides of Jordan's personality- the lover and the warrior- battle when he begins to think of Maria. He quells thoughts of the happiness he found with her by telling himself that the best thing he can do for their future is "do the job well and fast and get out." Jordan tells Maria not to worry, and then goes to meet the men Pablo has recruited.


Hemingway the writer reveals himself in Jordan when he says: "Seeing Pablo again had broken the pattern of tragedy into which the whole operation had seemed grooved ever since the snow." This is not only an ironic commentary by the author on his tragic plot, but also confirms Jordan's growing superstition. The strange effect of Pablo's return is characterized very aptly: "he felt confidence rising in him as a tire begins to fill with air from a slow pump. There was little difference at first, although there was a definite beginning, as when the pump starts and the rubber of the tube crawls a little, but it came now as steadily as a tide rising or the sap rising in a tree until he began to feel the first edge of that negation of apprehension that often turned into actual happiness before action." The metaphor upon metaphor in this passage- from the tire, to the tide, to the tree- is a wonderful depiction of a ambiguous human emotion- relief.

Chapter 40


The scene now shifts back to Andres and Gomez. They go to the post of a lieutenant colonel, whose men are as unorganized and rude as Gomez's own comrades. When Gomez takes out his pistol, a safe-conduct note is written for Andres so that he can journey alone and unharmed to General Golz. He gives Gomez a motorcycle to take Andres on his way.


This chapter is an ironic commentary on the uselessness of war. For example, Andres is not slowed down crossing enemy lines, but when he reaches Loyalist territory. It is evident that there is little interest for the Cause within the Loyalist army. This is also a chapter of brisk interaction between the soldiers and biting comments such as "all of you are crazy." However, the last passage, as Andres rides with Gomez to deliver the message to General Golz, celebrates the timeless beauty of a landscape that remains timeless despite the war. "The motorcycle moved, noisily exploding, into the light-split darkness of the country road that opened ahead sharp with the high black of the poplars beside it, dimmed and yellow-soft now as the road dipped into the fog along a stream bed, sharpening hard again as the road rose and, ahead of them at the crossroads, the headlight showed the gray bulk of the empty trucks coming down from the mountains." The machines- the motorcycle and the trucks- divide the landscape with either their noise or their presence. They represent war, and although they interrupt they cannot destroy the permanent beauty of the country.

Chapter 41


Robert Jordan reviews the plans with Pablo and with Pilar. He shakes Pablo's hand, and suspects that Pablo plans to kill his new men for their horses. Then he says good-bye to Maria, feeling unreal, as though a train is pulling out of a station, and tells her not to cry. He and Agustin and Anselmo leave for the bridge with the tripod machine gun, and when they reach their position, Robert Jordan waits for daylight.

Chapter 42


Andres and Gomex reach the Golz's camp, but the General is not to be found. The French man they ask for help, Andre Marty, orders them arrested as fascists. He has evidently gone mad. Karkov, Jordan's friend, uses his clout as a famous journalist to stop the arrest. The message is given to Golz's aid, Duval. At last the dispatch comes through, and Golz learns that the attack will fail. The message has arrived too late, and the attack will not be delayed.


Because of the incompetence of the Loyalist leaders, the guerillas must complete a mission of little value, the most likely result of which will be their deaths. If it was not for the indifference and self-importance of the men Andres had to cross to get the message through, Jordan and his band might die needlessly.

Chapter 43


The attack on the bridge begins. Jordan and Anselmo first kill the sentries guarding the bridge, and they then put the dynamite in place. Fernando is the first to die. Anselmo dies soon after from the blast when Jordan blows the bridge. Pablo's new men are killed defending the camp from a tank, and Pablo comments that there will now be enough horses to escape. As they ride away, Jordan realizes that they still could be hit by machine gun fire from a tank below. He sends Maria off the trail, and suddenly a shell hits him.

Realizing that he is dying, Jordan sends the group away. He promises Maria that they will always be one; she must now live for both of them. They leave him a machine gun to defend himself. As his pain grows, Jordan thinks about committing suicide. He then decides that he must live, so that he can stall the soldiers and give the others more time to escape. When at last the soldiers appear, Jordan prepares to fire his gun. At this moment, the story ends.


Jordan's death is the crowning irony of For Whom the Bell Tolls; his mission his accomplished, yet he must fulfill the omens which have followed him during his "life in three days." The suddenness of Jordan's death comes as a shock to the reader, as he was almost on his way to safety. "The bright flash from the heavy, squat, mud-colored tank there on the road" is his death sentence. Hemingway describes Jordan's pain vividly; indeed, we almost feel his broken leg with "the sharp bone and where it pressed against the skin."

Jordan's goodbye to Maria reiterates the theme of their oneness: "Thou art all there will be of me." Having given his soul to Maria, Jordan can wait for his body to be "integrated" into the on which we first met him. Jordan's own acceptance of his death lets the reader consider that perhaps he did not die in vain, for he celebrates the greater understanding he has gained from his three days of life. "He knew he himself was nothing, and he knew death was nothing. He knew that truly, as truly as he knew anything. In the last few days he had learned that he himself, with another person, could be everything. But inside himself he knew that this was the exception. That was given to me, perhaps, because I have never asked for it. That cannot be taken nor lost." Jordan understands he has been blest; his doubts now fade away. He envisions Madrid, basked in a holy sheen of white, and admits to himself that he now believes Pilar's prophecies.

The last line of For Whom the Bell Tolls returns the reader full-circle to "the pine needle floor of the forest." The detail, "his heart beating," poignantly depicts Jordan's last moments of life. We are left to imagine his death.

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Last Updated: 08/01/2022

Views: 5937

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Birthday: 1997-10-17

Address: Suite 835 34136 Adrian Mountains, Floydton, UT 81036

Phone: +3571527672278

Job: Manufacturing Agent

Hobby: Skimboarding, Photography, Roller skating, Knife making, Paintball, Embroidery, Gunsmithing

Introduction: My name is Lakeisha Bayer VM, I am a brainy, kind, enchanting, healthy, lovely, clean, witty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.


For Whom the Bell Tolls summary and analysis? ›

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American volunteer attached to a Republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia.

How does Robert Jordan break his leg? ›

Robert Jordan mounts the horse of the cavalryman he killed the previous day. He rides last in the caravan, directly behind Maria. As they cross the main road, a Fascist bullet hits Robert Jordan's horse, which tramples on Robert Jordan's left leg, breaking it.

What is the summary of For Whom the Bell Tolls by John Donne? ›

In Donne's essay, “For whom does the bell toll?” is the imaginary question of a man who hears a funeral bell and asks about the person who has died. Donne's answer to this question is that, because none of us stands alone in the world, each human death affects all of us. Every funeral bell, therefore, “tolls for thee.”

What happened at the end of For Whom the Bell Tolls? ›

At the end of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Jordan is in a forest, looking down at the bridge he was sent to destroy. His leg is broken and he tells his young lover, Maria, that she must go on without him. And then, alone, lying there on the pine needles, he faces his death.

What is the main theme of For Whom the Bell Tolls? ›

Romantic Love as Salvation. Even though many of the characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls take a cynical view of human nature and feel fatigued by the war, the novel still holds out hope for romantic love.

For Whom the Bell Tolls moral lesson? ›

By Ernest Hemingway

Many of the characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls find their moral beliefs troubled by the war in which they're fighting. Winning a war requires the use of violence to defeat or eliminate one's enemies; that much everyone agrees. But even if violence is necessary, it's not clear that makes it right.

For Whom the Bell Tolls shmoop summary? ›

Set in the mountains of Spain in 1937, it tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American fighting for the Republicans (that's one side of the Spanish Civil War, not the American political party) who is ordered to blow up a bridge as part of a larger offensive.

Why was For Whom the Bell Tolls banned? ›

The Italian government banned it for characterizing the fascist Armed Forces as cowardly retreating from the Battle of Caporetto. For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel about the Spanish Civil War inspired by Hemingway's own experience.

Why did Hemingway write for whom the bell tolls? ›

In 1936 and 1937, Hemingway wrote and made speeches for the purpose of raising money for the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War.

What is the setting of For Whom the Bell Tolls? ›

The novel is set near Segovia, Spain, in 1937 and tells the story of American teacher Robert Jordan, who has joined the antifascist Loyalist army. Jordan has been sent to make contact with a guerrilla band and blow up a bridge to advance a Loyalist offensive.

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Dean Jakubowski Ret

Last Updated: 07/04/2022

Views: 6456

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dean Jakubowski Ret

Birthday: 1996-05-10

Address: Apt. 425 4346 Santiago Islands, Shariside, AK 38830-1874

Phone: +96313309894162

Job: Legacy Sales Designer

Hobby: Baseball, Wood carving, Candle making, Jigsaw puzzles, Lacemaking, Parkour, Drawing

Introduction: My name is Dean Jakubowski Ret, I am a enthusiastic, friendly, homely, handsome, zealous, brainy, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.