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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls


by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls Politics Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

"I put great illusion in the Republic. I believe firmly in the Republic and I have faith. I believe in it with fervor as those who have religious faith believe in mysteries." (9.69)

Pilar wears her impassioned patriotism on her sleeve, to say the least. It seems to be her strongest motivation, what really keeps her going in the war. Perhaps her "faith" is also what gives her the energy to overcome the sadness she describes elsewhere. This isn't the last time that politics will be considered as an equivalent or a substitute for religion. We find it interesting that Pilar has the self-awareness to understand that patriotism plays this role for her, even calling it an "illusion." Does that mean she recognizes the Republic she believes in is not the Republic as it really is?

Quote #2

No. There was nothing to be gained by leaving them alone. Except that all people should be left alone and you should interfere with no one. So he believed that, did he? Yes, he believed that. And what about a planned society and the rest of it? That was for the others to do. He had something else to do after this war. He fought now in this war because it had started in a country that he loved and he believed in the Republic and that if it were destroyed life would be unbearable for all those people who believed in it. He was under Communist discipline for the duration of the war. Here in Spain the Communists offered the best discipline and the soundest and sanest for the prosecution of the war. He accepted their discipline for the duration of the war because, in the conduct of the war, they were the only party whose program and whose discipline he could respect. (13.59)

Here we get the basics of Robert Jordan's current political motivations. He's not so much an ideologue or a believer in any definite political system or vision – including Communism – as a guy who just loves Spain and the Republic. The Republic's a free government, as opposed to the alternative, fascism. Politically, freedom is Jordan's highest priority; he ends up sounding here like a "liberal" (someone whose essential commitment is the freedom of the individual) without any more particular political commitments. Even if he only follows the communists because of their "discipline," does that seem at odds with his liberalism?

Quote #3

To be bigoted you have to be absolutely sure that you are right and nothing makes that surety and righteousness like continence. Continence is the foe of heresy.

When you were drunk or when you committed either fornication or adultery you recognized your own personal fallibility of that so mutable substitute for the apostles' creed, the party line. Down with Bohemianism, the sin of Mayakovsky. (13.62-3)

Robert Jordan draws an interesting link here between rigid belief in an ideology and the suppression of more ecstatic or "sinful" kinds of activity (depending on how you look at it) – sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, basically. He's in good company there (1984, anyone?). What is it that ties all of those things together and makes them an enemy to ideology? His answer is intriguing: they cause you to lose control of yourself, which makes it harder to look at yourself as "pure" or always right. And once that happens, it's harder not to sympathize with everybody else (including the enemies of whatever "bigotry" you happen to subscribe to). In any case, Robert Jordan has himself in mind here, since Maria has just posed a pretty serious challenge to his "continence." (Note: Mayakovsky was a 19th century Russian poet and revolutionary political figure.)

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