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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway

Morality and Ethics Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"To me it is a sin to kill a man. Even Fascists whom we must kill. To me there is a great difference between the bear and the man and I do not believe the wizardry of the gypsies about the brotherhood with animals. No. I am against all killing of men."

"Yet you have killed."

"Yes. And will again. (3.66-68)

Anselmo is the character who feels most strongly that killing is wrong, and the one who says so most often. He's a hunter, and takes pleasure in the hunt, but believes there is a great difference between human beings and animals. That point keeps coming back in the book (check out what we have to say about animal metaphors in the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section). He also never stops using religious language – killing is a "sin" – even though he's given up religion. Yet he's somehow reconciled to the necessity of killing.

Quote #2

To kill them teaches nothing," Anselmo said. "You cannot exterminate them because from their seed comes more with greater hatred. Prison is nothing. Prison only makes hatred. That all our enemies should learn." (3.81)

Anger and vengefulness play little part in Anselmo's opposition to the fascists. He genuinely wants them to learn, and thinks (as we find out elsewhere) that if they could only understand how hard life is for many of the working people of Spain, they would change. War doesn't teach people anything, because it only leads them to keep fighting, fuelled by rage. You could imagine the same convictions leading to a pacifist stance; it's interesting, and maybe a little problematic, that Anselmo chooses to fight.

Quote #3

"Clearly," the woman said. "If you want it that way. Perhaps it came from talking that foolishness about Valencia. And that failure of a man who has gone to look at his horses. I wounded him much with the story. Kill him, yes. Curse him, yes. But wound him, no." (9.46)

Is Pilar genuinely willing to kill Pablo? That's a hard question to answer throughout the book. It's clear from this, however, that she still feels sympathy for him: she's feeling guilty that she deliberately tried to injure him by comparing him badly to an earlier over. She seems to suggest that it's worse to take away a man's dignity than it is his life. There's a similarity in this to some of the thoughts on how one should kill voiced by other characters (including herself).

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