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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway

Men and Masculinity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"I liked you better when you were barbarous," the woman said. "Of all men the drunkard is the foulest. The thief when he is not stealing is like another. The extortioner does not practice in the home. The murderer when he is at home can wash his hands. But the drunkard stinks and vomits in his own bed and dissolves his organs in alcohol." (16.135)

According to Pilar, a barbarian is a fine kind of guy, but a drunkard is not. Sorry, Pablo. In Pilar's mind, any nasty sort of man you might think of can still be normal when he returns to his woman, but the drunkard simply isn't himself. Presumably also she views alcoholism as a way of escaping reality, which is cowardly and distinctly unmanly. Notice that the drunkard is also the textbook case of somebody not in control of himself.

Quote #5

Gaylord's was good and sound and what he needed. At the start he knew enough to accept the necessity for all the deception and what he learned at Gaylord's only strengthened him in his belief in the things that he did hold to be true. He liked to know how it really was; not how it was supposed to be. (18.38)

For Robert Jordan (and Hemingway himself, we presume), it's important to "take it straight" – to see things as they are and deal with them, rather than view them through rose-colored glasses. The destruction of Robert Jordan's early idealism was an important part of his maturing into a man. He may also be saying that knowing the world in all its ugly, messy, chaotic reality can strengthen your appreciation for the ideals you do hold, since you are all the more motivated to make them a reality. Or something like that.

Quote #6

"Thou must act like a man," she said to Primitivo. "A grown man. You with your gray hairs and all."

"Don't joke with me," Primitivo said sullenly. "If a man has a little heart and a little imagination – "

"He should learn to control them," Pilar said. (22.72-74)

Pilar's criticizing Primitivo's masculinity here, since he can't seem to control himself. What he wants to do is rush off and be a hero by helping his friends at El Sordo's. But it would be hopeless. So, heroism, if unrealistic = not manly. Rather than being noble, it reflects a lack of self-control. But then, Pilar seems to be in the business of criticizing men for their lack of masculinity…

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