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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway
 Table of Contents

For Whom the Bell Tolls Duty Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

You went into it knowing what you were fighting for. You were fighting against exactly what you were doing and being forced into doing to have any chance of winning. So now he was compelled to use these people whom he liked as you should use troops toward whom you have no feeling at all if you were to be successful. (13.53)

Another moment of conflict in Robert Jordan. He comes to recognize that the way to be most successful in war is to treat the combatants at your disposal as if they were just tools, and to sacrifice them willingly whenever it would be most effective. That's how he feels he has to think as he plans his operation. Yet it's become impossible for him to look at the people around him as instruments, even though that's how he viewed himself only a day ago.

Quote #2

The Ingles told me to stay, he thought. Even now he may be on the way here, and, if I leave this place, he may lose himself in the snow searching for me. All through this war we have suffered from a lack of discipline and from the disobeying of orders and I will wait a while still for the Ingles. (15.5)

Of all the members of Pablo's party, Anselmo is the one with the strongest resolution and sense of discipline. That's what prompts him to stay in his position even as a snowstorm rages around him. Here he's also saying something more general about the war which is repeated throughout the book: that it's the lack of discipline in the war which has been the greatest downfall of the Republicans.

Quote #3

At either of those places you felt that you were taking part in a crusade. That was the only word for it although it was a word that had been so worn and abused that it no longer gave its true meaning. You felt, in spite of all bureaucracy and inefficiency and party strife, something that was like the feeling you expected to have and did not have when you made your first communion. It was a feeling of consecration to a duty toward all the oppressed of the world which would be as difficult and embarrassing to speak about as religious experience and yet it was authentic as the feeling you had when you heard Bach, or stood in Chartres Cathedral or the Cathedral at Leon and saw the light coming through the great windows; or when you saw Mantegna and Greco and Brueghel in the Prado. It gave you a part in something that you could believe in wholly and completely and in which you felt an absolute brotherhood with the others who were engaged in it. It was something that you had never known before but that you had experienced now and you gave such importance to it and the reasons for it that your own death seemed of complete unimportance; only a thing to be avoided because it would interfere with the performance of your duty. But the best thing was that there was something you could do about this feeling and this necessity too. You could fight. (18.53)

Robert Jordan was quite the passionate communist (if not in party affiliation, at least in spirit) earlier in the war, and this turns out to be the root of that overwhelming sense of duty he has. He straight up admits that he served his cause as if it were a religion, and was uplifted by it. It gave him a sense of belonging to something "higher." We wonder: even though he describes this in the past tense, as if he's gotten over it, has he really?

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