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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway

The Supernatural Theme

There's a thread about the supernatural which runs throughout For Whom the Bell Tolls. Near the book's beginning, another character, Pilar, appears to see the protagonist's "fate" in his palm. The protagonist, Robert Jordan, makes nothing of it, since he believes superstition is so much stuff and nonsense which doesn't "take the world straight." Throughout the rest of the book, there's something of a competition between Jordan and Pilar, who claims to see into parts of reality to which he is simply "deaf." Many of the other characters are inclined to believe in the supernatural, whether filtered through Pilar or through Spanish Catholicism.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Do you think Robert Jordan does completely disbelieve in the supernatural, as he claims to, or is he less sure than he admits? Why does he seem so fascinated by it?
  2. Is there something significant about the fact that Pilar, a female character, is the main spokesperson for the supernatural in the book?
  3. Do we think Pilar's talk about the supernatural is genuine? Or is she using it to try and attract attention or gain power over others?
  4. In what ways does Robert Jordan and Maria's love seem supernatural? How does Robert Jordan square this with his own rejection of things supernatural? Does he?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Robert Jordan is completely convinced that belief in the supernatural is "superstition," and is only curious about it because it seems so strange to him.

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