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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

by Ernest Hemingway

Warfare Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"Because the people of this town are as kind as they can be cruel and they have a natural sense of justice and a desire to do that which is right. But cruelty had entered into the lines and also drunkenness or the beginning of drunkenness and the lines were not as they were when Don Benito had come out. I do not know how it is in other countries, and no one cares more for the pleasure of drinking than I do, but in Spain drunkenness, when produced by other elements than wine, is a thing of great ugliness and the people do things that they would not have done." (10. 232)

Pilar thinks the people of her town are equal parts good and bad, as Robert Jordan thinks about the Spanish in general (though at this level of generality, you could say it's true of all human beings). They are not cruel by default – they have what she describes as a "natural sense of justice." But they are capable of being incited to barbarity, at which point killing and causing pain in others become pleasure. So is it that normal, that decent people can be incited to barbarity? They can be antagonized (Don Ricardo's insults had that effect). But they can also lose control of themselves in some way, and fail to appreciate the seriousness of what they're doing (being around other people doing the same thing surely helps too). That's where alcohol comes in. Pilar hates it.

Quote #5

"'Did you like it, Pilar?' he [Pablo] asked finally with his mouth full of roast young goat. We were eating at the inn from where the busses leave and the room was crowded and people were singing and there was difficulty serving.

"'No,' I said. 'Except for Don Faustino, I did not like it.'"

" 'I liked it,' he said."

" 'All of it?' I asked him."

" 'All of it,' he said and cut himself a big piece of bread with his knife and commenced to mop up gravy with it. 'All of it, except the priest.'" (10.319-323)

Pilar found the massacre of the fascists sickening. Pablo relished every moment of it. Many characters express taking a pleasure in killing one point or another, but Pablo is the most extreme. The people killed weren't even combatants, and they were executed while defenseless, in a particularly brutal way. Should we make a monster of Pablo?

Quote #6

I wish that I were in my own house again and that this war were over. But you have no house now, he thought. We must win this war before you can ever return to your house. (15.11)

It might be hard to fathom why someone like Anselmo would fight. He doesn't like killing and seemed happy enough with life as it was before the war. One reason is that the war has taken away his home and made his former life impossible. Looked at one way, there's really no choice: he'll have to fight, and his side will have to win, if he ever wants to enjoy that life again. The loss of home, and the sense that there's nothing to do but fight, even if one has little desire to, is something felt by several of the characters.

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