For Whom the Bell Tolls
Foreignness and 'The Other' Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Who would imagine they would have whiskey up here, he thought. But La Granja was the most likely place in Spain to find it when you thought it over. Imagine Sordo getting a bottle for the visiting dynamiter and then remembering to bring it down and leave it. It wasn't just manners that they had. Manners would have been producing the bottle and having a formal drink. That was what the French would have done and then they would have saved what was left for another occasion. No, the true thoughtfulness of thinking the visitor would like it and then bringing it down for him to enjoy when you yourself were engaged in something where there was every reason to think of no one else but yourself and of nothing but the matter in hand – that was Spanish. One kind of Spanish, he thought. Remembering to bring the whiskey was one of the reasons you loved these people. Don't go romanticizing them, he thought. There are many sorts of Spanish as there are Americans. But still, bringing the whiskey was very handsome. (16.51)
One of the reasons Robert Jordan loves and admires the Spanish: their unique courtesy and hospitality, of which El Sordo is a prime example. Also in this passage, he recognizes a romanticizing tendency in himself – to think of "the Spanish" as all sharing one sort of character – and calls it into doubt. That doesn't prevent him from doing a lot more of it, though.
"Let me finish, you mule," Pilar said to him. "He teaches Spanish to Americans. North Americans."
"Can they not speak Spanish?" Fernando asked. "South Americans can." (16.171-2)
Kind of a dumb question? Many of the members of Pablo's band seem to know very little about where Robert Jordan comes from, which is pretty clear at various moments of this conversation. Note the difference between the main character, an American, who is almost entirely concerned with Spain, and the Spanish, who don't know anything about what's outside their own country.
Yes, Robert Jordan thought. We do it coldly but they do not, nor ever have. It is their extra sacrament. Their old one that they had before the new religion came from the far end of the Mediterranean, the one they have never abandoned but only suppressed and hidden to bring it out again in wars and inquisitions. They are the people of the Auto de Fe; the act of faith. Killing is something one must do, but ours are different from theirs. And you, he thought, you have never been corrupted by it? You never had it in the Sierra? Nor at Usera? Nor through all the time in Estremadura? Nor at any time? Que va, he told himself. At every train.
Stop making dubious literature about the Berbers and the old Iberians and admit that you have liked to kill as all who are soldiers by choice have enjoyed it at some time whether they lie about it or not. Anselmo does not like to because he is a hunter, not a soldier. Don't idealize him, either. Hunters kill animals and soldiers kill men. Don't lie to yourself, he thought. Nor make up literature about it. You have been tainted with it for a long time now. And do not think against Anselmo either. He is a Christian. Something very rare in Catholic countries. (23.88-89)
Robert Jordan is tempted to see a unique love of violence in Spaniards, one which has developed throughout the long history of Spain. It's become sacred and ritualized, and has often been connected with the Church. He also makes the observation that Spain, as a Catholic country, is not Christian – he thinks that Catholicism all too easily becomes a matter of superstition and ritual, and misses the moral core of Christian belief. Here again, though, Robert Jordan wonders whether he's being fair, or simply making the Spanish into some exotic "Other" – perhaps to conceal his own similarities to them.