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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway

Duty Quotes Page 3

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

"In your work you are supposed to be very reliable. I must talk to you sometime to see how you are in your mind. It is regrettable that we never speak seriously."

"My mind is in suspension until we win the war," Robert Jordan said.

"Then perhaps you will not need it for a long time. But you should be careful to exercise it a little." (18.135-137)

It's as if Robert Jordan just cuts himself up – "mutilates" himself – to make sure he can perform optimally. If his mind would be a hindrance, out it goes. Karkov doesn't dig that so much: he urges Robert Jordan to keep using his mind to some degree. No great surprise – Karkov is the one who wants to educate Robert Jordan.

Quote #8

Yet we had stopped them both times with the very same troops. We never could have stopped them if they had pulled both drives at once. Don't worry, he told himself. Look at the miracles that have happened before this. Either you will have to blow that bridge in the morning or you will not have to. But do not start deceiving yourself into thinking you won't have to blow it. You will blow it one day or you will blow it another. Or if it is not this bridge it will be some other bridge. It is not you who decides what shall be done. You follow orders. Follow them and do not try to think beyond them. (30.5)

Even this late in the game, Robert Jordan is still pulled to make following orders unthinkingly his highest priority. He's raised some legitimate questions about whether the attack will actually happen, or whether it will even succeed. But it doesn't seriously occur to him to give up on his orders.

Quote #9

Trying to take them both will never work. Pablo knew that all the time. I suppose he always intended to muck off but he knew we were cooked when Sordo was attacked. You can't base an operation on the presumption that miracles are going to happen. You will kill them all off and not even get your bridge blown if you have nothing better than what you have now. You will kill off Pilar, Anselmo, Agustín, Primitivo, this jumpy Eladio, the worthless gypsy and old Fernando, and you won't get your bridge blown. Do you suppose there will be a miracle and Golz will get the message from Andrés and stop it? If there isn't, you are going to kill them all off with those orders. Maria too. You'll kill her too with those orders. Can't you even get her out of it? God damn Pablo to hell, he thought. (38.42)

After Pablo's stolen the detonators and El Sordo's men have been killed, things look really hopeless for the mission. Robert Jordan still feels compelled to go ahead with it. But what point will it serve if it will fail and they'll almost certainly all die? This is the point at which Robert Jordan has the most reason to turn his back on his "duty." Does it seem like he's going to? It's lucky Pablo shows up before Robert Jordan has to make a decision.

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