Hemingway's Past Experiences as Themes in For Whom the Bell Tolls

Essay by wruz6High School, 10th gradeA+, May 2004

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In comparison to many other authors who sit on a desk and write secondhand accounts, Hemingway was quite different, for he encountered, and experienced, almost all of the events he wrote about in his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. As one critic said: "Critics frequently state their belief that Hemingway's writing is largely autobiographical, based on personal experience..." (Hays n.p.). For Whom the Bell Tolls is about the Spanish Civil War, and he has gone there during that time to witness battles among other aspects of the war. Other than from war, Hemingway is able to relate even more closely with his books and the themes in his books, because he was an avid hunter for some time, and knew what it was like to kill. In many of Ernest Hemingway's books, as in For Whom the Bell Tolls, he incorporates the themes of life and death, and in this particular novella, he writes of the idea of killing a man; the constant reoccurrence of these themes is caused by the thoughts and feelings of Hemingway experienced not only as a hunter and soldier, but also as a son who lost his father in a difficult way.

Hemingway's thoughts of life and death were affected by his actual experiences, as reflected in his writing. And due to the fact that there was so much death in Hemingway's life, death became a reoccurring theme in Hemingway's stories. "It is a rare story of Hemingway's which does not center in some way on violence, suffering, or death; and nearly all his novels end in death" (Burhans 284). As a war story, For Whom the Bell Tolls certainly does not miss any of these elements, including the final one mentioned, since Robert Jordan sacrifices himself to let his comrades and...