Thematic Analysis of For Whom the Bell Tolls

Essay by hellokitty3338Junior High, 9th gradeB+, February 2008

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Physical injury is the damage that can be seen the most clearly in For Whom the Bell Tolls and in war in general. The novel is set in May of 1937 during the Spanish Civil War in the Guadarrama mountain range in Spain. The protagonist of the novel, Robert Jordan, left his job in America to fight for the Republican side due to his strong aversion to the Fascist Party. During the course of the novel, Jordan is sickened by the violence of war, as he witnesses the death of many soldiers of both the Republican and Fascist sides. The disgusting nature of war is very apparent in chapter 27 of the book. A lieutenant of the Fascist side gives the disturbing order, "Cut off the head [of the leader] and wrap it in a poncho. You might as well take all the heads." Also, Jordan kills many soldiers of the opposition throughout the story.

The physical damage that he causes to others, even if it is for a worthy motive, makes him look at the horrible acts committed by himself and others during the war. The extreme brutality of war is the most evident in the final chapter, as almost all of Jordan's comrades have been killed. His leg is trampled by a horse, so he can not escape and stays behind to kill as many Fascists as he can.

The hardship that is faced by soldiers extends to not only physical injury but also grueling mental stress. On the battlefield, one can die at second, so as a result, many soldiers constantly fear for their life. The depth of the fear that soldiers must cope with in battle can be seen clearly in Chapter 26. One Republican soldier, Joaquín, saw enemy planes flying overhead and started confessing...