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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls


by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 2 Summary

  • The trio of Pablo, Anselmo, and Robert Jordan arrive at Pablo's camp: a cave. It's well-concealed, as it's hard to see unless you're right in front of it.
  • There's a man sitting in front of the cave, whittling. He wants to know who Pablo's bringing to camp.
  • Pablo tells him it's "the old man" and a "dynamiter." The man, who's apparently a gypsy, doesn't want the dynamite in the cave. So it's left outside.
  • Robert Jordan asks what the gypsy is making, and he says it's a fox track. Anselmo says that it's actually a trap for rabbits. Gypsies "talk much and kill little."
  • Robert Jordan smells food in the cave and gets excited.
  • Robert Jordan and the gypsy strike up a conversation, while Anselmo goes into the cave for booze. Pablo's band eats like generals, the gypsy says. (His name is Rafael.)
  • Pablo and Anselmo come out of the cave bearing wine in a basin with cups. Pablo asks for tobacco, and Robert Jordan obliges with some cigarettes from the dynamite pack (just what else does he have in there?). Pablo is reminded of Kashkin's cigarettes – which were also bad.
  • Wine time. They all dip into the bowl, and clink their cups together. Robert Jordan likes the wine.
  • Pablo wants to know more about Kashkin – how he died. He was captured and committed suicide, says Robert Jordan, who holds back the more particular details of how he did the job.
  • Pablo notes that he was "rare" (in Spanish, this means "strange") but brave. Pablo, Anselmo, and Rafael were all present with him to blow up the train.
  • Meanwhile, Robert Jordan's thinking that Kashkin must have been jumpy even back then. (Hmm…) He says Kashkin was a little crazy.
  • Pablo asks Robert Jordan if he would accept being left behind if wounded in an operation like the bridge operation. That's friendly…
  • At this moment, a girl comes out of the cave carrying the food on a platter. Robert Jordan looks at her closely, and finds her beautiful – except for her hair, which is short and cropped. (No time for girls, eh?) The girl notices, and laughingly tells him that she got her hair cut in Valladolid, but it's growing back out.
  • The girl sits across from Robert Jordan, and he feels a thickness in his throat every time he looks at her. All of them eat out of the platter together. The food is good. Wine does not help Robert Jordan with the thickness in his throat.
  • The girl says her name is Maria; Robert Jordan introduces himself to her as Roberto.
  • Maria has been in the mountains for three months. In fact, she was on the train that Pablo and company blew up. It was coming from a prison at Valladolid. They talk a bit about Kashkin.
  • Robert Jordan realizes that it's hard for him to look at her because his voice always changes. Apparently, he's violating one of the rules for getting on well with the Spanish – leaving their women alone. But he doesn't care.
  • Robert Jordan compliments her on her face, and asks whose woman she is. Way to be direct, RJ. Not Pablo's – she laughs at that idea. Not Rafael's either. She's no one's woman, and she is not Robert Jordan's either, she says.
  • He plays the tough guy, and says he has no time for women. But that thick throat is giving him trouble speaking.
  • Maria blushes, and goes back into the cave. Robert Jordan immediately recovers his voice.
  • More serious talk. Anselmo says Pablo hasn't done anything since the last raid when he got the horses.
  • Robert Jordan learns from Anselmo that there are seven in Pablo's band, plus two women. The other's Pablo's woman (the "mujer of Pablo"), who is largely responsible for the cooking. Rafael says the mujer is much braver than Pablo. But "barbarous."
  • Anselmo and Rafael talk about Pablo. He used to be brave apparently, killing lots of people, but has since gone "flaccid." Rafael suggests it's because he killed so many at first. Anselmo suggests it may also be because he's grown rich, and now drinks a lot.
  • Robert Jordan, in a food coma, starts to get comfortable and sleepy on the floor. He asks where the others are, and learns there are two in the cave, and two on guard above with "the gun," and one on guard below.
  • The gun? It's a machine gun, which Robert Jordan is then told a lot about.
  • A bit more from Rafael about how barbarous the mujer of Pablo is. She also reads palms, apparently. Robert Jordan wants to meet this woman, if only to get it over with.
  • One last detail about the mujer: she's very fond of Maria, and takes care of her like a mother.
  • Rafael gives some background on Maria. She was "very strange" after the train (she was on a train that blew up), though she was better today. It was only on account of Pablo's woman that they saved her.
  • At the train, Pablo's band was joined by El Sordo, and two others. He says El Sordo will be by later that evening.
  • As Rafael describes the train scene in more detail, a voice booms out that the train is the "only good thing we have done."
  • Enter, after much anticipation, the mujer of Pablo. She's got quite an entrance: "What are you doing now, you lazy drunken obscene unsayable son of an unnameable unmarried gypsy obscenity?" Wow. (Hemingway is censoring the swearwords as he writes them in English.)
  • After ordering Rafael to sentry duty, the mujer turns to Robert Jordan with a smile and a firm handshake. She asks what he's there to do, and when he tells her "a bridge," she's a bit dismissive. She really wants to blow up another train.
  • The mujer of Pablo also wants to get out of their current encampment. Food's a problem, because there are too many men in the hills, and she's getting sick of the place.
  • The mujer of Pablo doesn't think much of Pablo – she calls him a rotten drunkard as she spots him through the trees. She likes Robert Jordan, though, and says she's glad he came.
  • The mujer warns Robert Jordan of two things: first, that Pablo's gone rotten, and second, that he needs to be careful with Maria. Maria seems to be quite taken with him.
  • Maria in particular needs to get out of here, the mujer thinks. Robert Jordan suggests that he and Anselmo take her after the operation is over. The woman likes that idea, though she doesn't like it when he adds that he'll do that "if they survive" the bridge operation.
  • She asks to see his palm, and reads it. She won't say what she sees, though it doesn't seem good. Robert Jordan says he doesn't believe in that kind of thinking, but she still won't tell him what she saw.
  • They talk about the forces at their disposal. The woman says that five men are good, but that Rafael is worthless and Pablo is no longer trustworthy. El Sordo has eight good men, and also a bit of dynamite. He will come later tonight, she says. More men could be recruited, but she doubts many will want to come.
  • Jordan and the mujer get along well. He asks once more for her to tell him what she saw in his hand, but she refuses, then says that she saw nothing.
  • Robert Jordan rouses Anselmo and the two of them go to look at the bridge.

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