For Whom the Bell Tolls
For Whom the Bell Tolls Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Then, as he thought, he realized that if there was any such thing as ever meeting, both he and his grandfather would be acutely embarrassed by the presence of his father. Any one has a right to do it, he thought. But it isn't a good thing to do. I understand it, but I do not approve of it. Lache was the word. But you do understand it? Sure I understand it but. Yes, but. You have to be awfully occupied with yourself to do a thing like that. Aw hell, I wish Grandfather was here, he thought. For about an hour anyway. Maybe he sent me what little I have through that other one that misused the gun. Maybe that is the only communication that we have. But, damn it. Truly damn it, but I wish the time-lag wasn't so long so that I could have learned from him what the other one never had to teach me. (30.25-26)
Ah, a little glance into the psychology of Robert Jordan. His grandfather is the iconic man in his family, whereas his father, because of his suicide, is a disgrace to him. His grandfather was a hardened soldier, so it's understandable he would feel drawn to him in his situation. Apparently he's inclined to the idea that he inherited his grandfather's qualities, because they skipped a generation with his father. He killed himself, which was cowardly and selfish. But is it really that his father was a coward that bothers Robert Jordan, or that his father left him behind? (That must be why he's "selfish," right?)
You're shaking, like a Goddamn woman. What the hell is the matter with you? You're trying to do it too fast. I'll be that Goddamn woman up above isn't shaking. That Pilar. Maybe she is too. She sounds as though she were in plenty trouble. She'll shake if she gets in enough. Like everybody bloody else. (43.31)
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Robert Jordan. What language! Can he really be calling himself a woman because he's shaking? Well, yes and no. The irony here is that he acknowledges Pilar to be more man (by that standard, anyway) than he is. Although his last gesture seems to be admitting that everyone shakes. Is there any point to distinguishing men and women on that count at all then?
You're not so good at this, Jordan, he said. Not so good at this. And who is so good at this? I don't know and I don't really care right now. But you are not. (43.391)
Robert Jordan thinks he should be good at dying, which in this case means both not being upset at having to die and handling his growing pain. But he's not optimal at either, and as the pain grows, he's more and more tempted to kill himself. His question's legitimate, though: could anyone really be expected to do a better job? Should he really be judged lacking by his own standards of manliness, or are those standards the problem?