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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls


by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls Warfare Quotes

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

Quote #1

"How many attacks have you seen and you ask me why? What is to guarantee that my orders are not changed? What is to guarantee that the attack is not annulled? What is to guarantee that the attack is not postponed? What is to guarantee that it starts within six hours of when it should start? Has any attack ever been as it should?"

"It will start on time if it is your attack," Robert Jordan said.

They are never my attacks," Golz said. "I make them, but they are not mine." (1.64-66)

Golz may be the general "responsible" for leading the offensive, but ultimately he has very little control over it. He's just kind of a guy in the middle of things. He didn't plan it after all, nor is he responsible for the larger plan of which it's a part. But besides that, any number of little or large things could go wrong, and he has no power over most of them. At some level, he's just got to hope for the best. You can look at this as an example of how what happens is war is beyond the control of those who fight in it.

Quote #2

"From a balcony some one cried out, 'Que pasa, cobardes? What is the matter, cowards?' and still Don Benito walked along between the men and nothing happened. Then I saw a man there men down from where I was standing and his face was working and he was biting his lips and his hands were white on his flail. I saw him looking toward Don Benito, watching him come on. And still nothing happened. Then, just before Don Benito came abreast of this man, the man raised his flail high so that it struck the man beside him and smashed a blow at Don Benito that hit him on the side of the head and Don Benito looked at him and the man struck again and shouted, 'That for you, Cabron,' and the blow hit Don Benito in the face and he raised his hands to his face and they beat him until he fell and the man who had struck him first called to others to help him and he pulled on the collar of Don Benito's shirt and others took hold of his arms and with his face in the dust of the plaza, they dragged him over the walk to the edge of the cliff and threw him over and into the river. And the man who hit him first was kneeling by the edge of the cliff looking over after him and saying, 'The Cabron! The Cabron! Oh, the Cabron!' He was a tenant of Don Benito and they had never gotten along together. There had been a dispute about a piece of land by the river that Don Benito had taken from this man and let to another and this man had long hated him." (10.159)

Pilar's telling her story about the massacre of the fascists sympathizers in her home town, and Don Benito, the mayor, is the first victim. The people of the town don't show any urge to kill Benito here. Even though he's the big fascist cheese of the town, no one steps forward to kill him – except some guy who's still bent out of shape about a petty dispute they had a long time ago, which he's never forgotten. That's enough to make him want to kill Benito, which the situation gives him the opportunity to do. And once he makes the first move, other people follow.

Quote #3

"Until Don Ricardo came out with that fierceness and calling those insults, many in the line would have given much, I am sure, never to have been in the line. And if any one had shouted from the line, 'Come, let us pardon the rest of them. Now they have had their lesson,' I am sure most would have agreed.

"But Don Ricardo with all his bravery did a great disservice to the others. For he aroused the men in the line and where, before, they were performing a duty and with no great taste for it, now they were angry, and the difference was apparent." (10.178-181)

As we saw with Benito, the common people of Pilar's town were not initially eager to do violence to the fascists, who are, after all, their own fellow townsmen. But all it took to rile them up into bloodlust were the insults of a single one of the fascists. After that, they can perceive all the rest of the fascists as their enemies.

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