For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Supernatural Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
There was quite a lot of religion in the letter and she prayed to Saint Anthony, to the Blessed Virgin of Pilar, and to other Virgins to protect him and she wanted him never to forget that he was also protected by the Sacred Heart of Jesus that he wore still, she trusted, at all times over his own heart where it had been proven innumerable – this was underlined – times to have the power of stopping bullets. She was as always his loving sister Concha.
Belief in the supernatural looms large in the Catholic religion of many of the Spaniards in this novel, of which this is a clear example. Maybe that's why the various band members seem open to Pilar's rather different claims about the supernatural – they're already open to the idea that there's "magic" in the world thanks to their religion. In the case of the young officer who received this letter, however, there's a painfully glaring contrast between what the letter says and what happened to him (that sacred heart was placed just about exactly where Robert Jordan shot him).
You take it easy, now, he said. Get turned over now while you still have time. Listen, one thing. Do you remember? Pilar and the hand? Do you believe that crap? No, he said. Not with everything that's happened? No, I don't believe it. She was nice about it early this morning before the show started. She was afraid maybe I believed it. I don't, though. But she does. They see something. Or they feel something. Like a bird dog. What about extra-sensory perception? What about obscenity? he said. (43.375)
This is the last consideration the supernatural gets in the book, right near its end. Of course, Pilar's reading of Robert Jordan's death in his hand (we assume that's what she saw) came true. And he admits that she saw something. But he still isn't willing to believe in it, and writes off giving it further consideration with cynical humor. You could interpret this passage as his attempt to convince himself that it's not real, though, rather than an expression of real certainty that it isn't. Why else would he come back to it?