Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 15

By Ernest Hemingway

Chapter 15

  • Poor little old Anselmo is crouched in a tree trunk, spying, and freezing in the snow. He's worried he might freeze to death, but he's got orders to stay there until relieved.
  • As he watches, a camouflaged Rolls-Royce (that's a fancy car) with General Staff officers passes by (he doesn't recognize it as such). Anselmo notes it down. But he hasn't been keeping track of what kind of cars pass. If he had, he might have noticed lots of really important people have passed by.
  • Anselmo is miserable, and contemplates leaving, in spite of his orders. After all, you're useless if you're dead.
  • He thinks of those fascists nice and warm in the sawmill. They're warm, he's cold. But they'll be dead soon. Anselmo is sad – at core, those men aren't fascists, just poor men like himself. The only difference is the orders they follow.
  • He thinks of a particularly grisly raid in a town called Otero. Pablo had thrown grenades into a soldiers' cabin while they were sleeping. He'd knifed someone to death.
  • Anselmo wants to go back his house, and be done with the war. Only he has no house to return to.
  • Cut to the sawmill. The soldiers inside are complaining about the absurdity of it snowing in May – only in Spain, they say.
  • Back to Anselmo. Anselmo hopes he does not have to kill in the upcoming attack. More about how killing is always bad. Noble, but we've heard that all before.
  • Anselmo's lonely. No wife or kids (his wife died). All he's got is the Republic. Not even God anymore.
  • Robert Jordan shows up and greets Anselmo warmly – by giving him a shot of absinthe. Fernando, whom Robert Jordan has decided to refer to (mentally) as the "cigar store Indian," doesn't want any.
  • Robert Jordan is very happy to see Anselmo – he's a good man, and so dependable – and they walk off, joking, arm-in-arm. Anselmo's happy too.
  • As they walk off, Robert Jordan, who really is in a remarkably better mood than he was last chapter, thinks to himself how remarkable it is that Anselmo stayed in the snow. Maybe the Cigar Store Indian would have too. That thought perks him up.