For Whom the Bell Tolls
Foreignness and 'The Other' Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"It is for that that you like it?" the woman asked Fernando.
"Yes," she said. "I see. The stew; as usual. Como siempre. Things are bad in the north; as usual. An offensive here; as usual. That troops come to hunt us out; as usual. You could serve as a monument to the usual."
"But the last two are only rumors, Pilar."
"Spain," the woman of Pablo said bitterly. Then turned to Robert Jordan. "Do they have people such as this in other countries?" (8.163-166).
The Spanish are apparently a people of habit, as Pilar bemoans. They like the usual. That might apply to something as trite as a stew, but you could also see it as an expression of the strong streak of traditionalism present in Spanish culture, as Hemingway represents it. Here, as in other places, Robert Jordan's status as a foreigner makes him a suitable audience for the thoughts his friends have about their own country, especially the less than positive ones. This is one of many remarks that shows Pilar's own conflicted opinion of her country.
He was lucky that he had lived parts of ten years in Spain before the war. They trusted you on the language, principally. They trusted you on understanding the language completely and speaking it idiomatically and having a knowledge of the different places. A Spaniard was only really loyal to his village in the end. First Spain of course, then his own tribe, then his province, then his village, his family and finally his trade. If you knew Spanish he was prejudiced in your favor, if you knew his province it was that much better, but if you knew his village and his trade your were in as far as any foreigner ever could be. He never felt like a foreigner in Spanish and they did not really treat him like a foreigner most of the time; only when they turned on you.
Of course they turned on you. They turned on you often but they always turned on everyone. They turned on themselves, too. (11.77-78)
This passage includes some of Robert Jordan's thoughts on fitting in with the Spanish. Apparently they're pretty tribal. Also frequently treacherous. Pablo's a quintessential Spaniard on both counts. That "tribalism" – the tendency to be loyal to relatively small groups (like towns or families) – plays a part in the book (as when Pablo kills another group to save his own), but was also one major historical problem for trying to unite Spaniards in large political or military movements. Besides all that, it's also worth observing that Robert Jordan thinks the most important part of fitting in is knowing the language.
And I have made a mistake, Robert Jordan thought to himself. I have told Spaniards we can do something better than they can when the rule is never to speak of your own exploits and abilities. When I should have flattered them I have told them what I think they should do and now they are furious. (11.330)
Here again we see Robert Jordan breaking one of those pesky rules on maintaining cordial relations with the Spaniards. The Spanish are a very proud people, as Pilar herself brings up on more than one occasion; that's another one of the traits that Robert Jordan (or maybe Hemingway) thinks defines them. Spanish pride can be difficult to deal with when it comes to honestly working out plans.