Novel Analysis: For Whom the Bell Tolls By Ernest Hemingway Setting: The story first takes place in Guadarrama Mountains, during the Spanish civil war. Robert Jordan, is an American teacher who has volunteered his services to the Loyalists in their fight against the Fascist rebels. He becomes torn between his new found love, Maria, and a life threatening mission. His love of Maria and the realization of his possible death is crucial to the action forthcoming during the story.
Characters: Robert Jordan,was the protagonist of the story. He has personality traits spanning various aspects of the heroic side of human nature. His relationship with Maria and the conflict it causes results in Robert Jordan's discovery of his personal values. He struggles to understand what defines his life and resolve the conflict of what to live or die for.
Pilar and Pablo play important roles in both the story and the development of Robert Jordan's character.
Their personality traits come into direct conflict with each other, affecting Robert in wide variety of ways. Pilar can be best described as an aggressive, dedicated, outspoken women who feels comfortable leading a group or controlling a situation. Pilar demonstrates her skill at various times within the text, most notable however, in dealings within her group. She constantly battles with the various men of the camp, demanding absolute respect, and becomes the leader of the group. In nearly every occasion she commands the utmost respect from the various members of the group. Pablo in contrast, once a brave leader and a proud man, who turns into a dangerous and unreliable coward. In his prime, Pablo led a group of enraged villagers to kill multiple Fascist soldiers and twenty known fascists. However, in the present he illustrates his cowardice by stealing and discarding Robert's blasting caps. He does this because he fears what the Fascists may do to his home and himself, if Robert destroys the bridge. All three of these characters were dynamic.
Although Maria is Robert Jordan's love interest she has little to do with the plot of this book and is static character. Her main purpose in the book remains to create a problem for Robert. His love for her makes him consider the danger of his actions and what he risks. Her character also provides an example of the evils committed by the Fascists. Prior to meeting Robert the Fascists took Maria, shaved her head and drove her to the brink of insanity.
Quotes: A couple of quotes Hemingway used were: "There's no one thing that's true. It's all true." "But did thee feel the earth move?" "Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it nor fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the grain flailed out and chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond." Narrative Perspective: For Whom the Bell Tolls was written in the third person taking place in present tense.
It is narrated by an omniscient. The book could be looked at as autobiographical, showing Hemingway's struggle with life. While being a world traveler Hemingway spent most of his time writing his novels, about his experiences.
Symbolism: This has the most symbols and themes in one books I have ever read. Every subject touched in the story represented an underlying idea or thought. The symbolism in For Whom the Bell Tolls represents the theme in many ways.
Many themes came out of the book, however, there are only three truly important themes. Primarily, the book deals with the ideas of self sacrifice, heroic struggle, and self awareness. Robert Jordan clearly demonstrates self sacrifice when he completes his mission after having fallen in love with Maria. Robert knew that the possibility existed that he might die and yet he was willing to sacrifice himself to complete the mission.
He realized that his life was small compared to the cause that he was fighting for. Therefore he gave up his life so that liberty and the Republic could survive. Here Robert Jordan represented the heroic struggle.
As Robert Jordan continued his relationship with Maria, he realized that he had more to sacrifice than just his life, he had his love. It was only a question of time before his work might end his life and he had to decide how he wanted to live and die. He had to decide whether it was better to be selfish and live or give his life for a just cause. He risked his life, which provided him with both sorrow and a feeling of fulfillment.
Form, Structure, and Plot: Hemingway uses a stream of conscience to show Robert's struggle with his mission and the future of his life. The plot he uses is complex, because of it's relevance to life in general. The plot was written as a framed episodic story. This summarization gives the main points of interest and conflict.
Of course, Robert Jordan's internal conflict about how he should live his life was one of the most important story elements.
Throughout the novel, Robert Jordan gradually builds a complex relationship with a Spanish girl, named Maria. By the end of the novel, the two fall madly in love with each other, which makes Robert's mission that much harder to complete. He faces the reality that he might die leaving his true love alone on earth. This makes him wonder if he should live a long life or live a full and complete life in a matter of days. This illustrates the conflict between his deep love for Maria and his dedication to duty.
The author uses Pablo to evoke Mr. Jordan's anger, rage, and to demonstrate his restraint in the face of adversity. Pablo's constant disagreements with Mr. Jordan's action, his drunkenness, and most importantly his final act of cowardice enrages Robert to a point of temporary insanity.
Personal conflict plays a large role in the actions of the characters. Pablo fought against Robert even though they were on the same side. Pilar battles with the men for respect. Andres also met with physical conflict when he attempted to give Robert Jordan's information to General Golz. He suffered a great deal of resistance from the men who were on his side while trying to deliver the information.
The characters' reactions to conflicts ranged from rage, to bitter shouting, to all out fight and massacre. The most important and noteworthy conflict arose between the Republic and the Fascists. The actions of the majority of the main characters in the book result from the conflict between the freedom fighters and the Fascists. Pilar tells a story that represents the brave struggle of the villagers against the fascists. The villagers became enraged by the injustices committed by the fascists and became violent, killing 4 or 5 guards and twenty known fascists.