For Whom the Bell Tolls
Morality and Ethics Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"'Why is this done thus, Pilar?' he [Pablo] said to me.
'To save bullets,' I [Pilar] said. 'And that each man should have his share in the responsibility.'" (10.135-6)
Pablo's idea in having the townspeople execute the fascists together, if it seems brutal, is also meant to be just – given that all of the townspeople are involved in the war together and want to benefit from the liberation of their town, it's only right that they should share responsibility for killing their enemies. Otherwise, the fighters (like Pablo) would do all the dirty work, while the townspeople would benefit from the outcome of it.
"It was a thing of great ugliness, but I had thought if this is how it must be, this is how it must be, and at least there was no cruelty, only the depriving of life which, as we all have learned in these years, is a thing of ugliness but also a necessity if we are to win, and to preserve the Republic.
When the square had been closed off and the lines formed, I had admired and understood it as a conception of Pablo, although it seemed to me to be somewhat fantastic and that it would be necessary for all that was to be done to be done in good taste if it were not to be repugnant. Certainly if the fascists were to be executed by the people, it was better for all the people to have a part in it, and I wished to share the guilt as much as any, just as I hoped to share in the benefits when the town should be ours. But after Don Guillermo, I felt a feeling of shame and distaste, and with the coming of the drunkards and the worthless ones into the lines, and the abstention of those who left the lines as a protest after Don Guillermo, I wished that I might disassociate myself altogether from the lines, and I walked away, across the square, and sat down on a bench under one of the big trees that gave shade there." (10.255-256)
After all is said and done, Pilar doesn't find that Pablo's idea of "sharing the responsibility" made the killings acceptable. People who did not deserve to die (Don Guillermo) were killed. Her evaluation is also affected by how she judges the killers themselves: part of what disgusts her is that the many of the people participated were drunkards (who would presumably never have the courage to fight, or the poise to face their own death as some of their enemies did). Pilar's judgment is partially motivated by considerations of honor.
Across the road at the sawmill smoke was coming out of the chimney and Anselmo could smell it blown toward him through the snow. The fascists are warm, he thought, and they are comfortable, and tomorrow night we will kill them. It is a strange thing and I do not like to think of it. I have watched them all day and they are the same men that we are. I believe that I could walk up to the mill and knock on the door and I would be welcome except that they have orders to challenge all travelers and ask to see their papers. It is only orders that come between us. Those men are not fascists. I call them so, but they are not. They are poor men as we are. They should never be fighting against us and I do not like to think of the killing. (15.7)
So many of the enemies the Republicans are fighting are not really "fascists," if by "fascist" one means someone who truly believes in fascist ideology. This Anselmo finds very troubling. There seem to be far more similarities between himself and his enemies than differences – at base just because they're human beings. What divides them is artificial, just "paper." Think back to that epigraph idea of all humans being tied together somehow.