Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 17

By Ernest Hemingway

Chapter 17

  • Now that Pablo's gone, everybody can talk about him behind his back. So they do.
  • Pilar thinks he might do anything. Like toss a bomb in the cave. She's all for killing him now.
  • Agustín , Primitivo, Andrés, and Eladio are too. As is Rafael. (Who's Eladio? The hitherto nameless brother of Andrés who hasn't done a single notable thing since he was introduced.)
  • Problem: Fernando doesn't like it. He wants to hold Pablo prisoner. But that would require somebody to guard him…
  • OK. Fernando gives up. Pablo should be eliminated. Only he says that in such a long-winded and roundabout that Pilar says he has made a whole bureaucracy with his mouth.
  • Robert Jordan says he'll do it tonight.
  • Just after, Pablo sticks his grinning mug through the cave opening and asks for wine.
  • Awkward silence.
  • Agustín, who can't stand awkward silences, breaks it. He's working himself up into a frenzy to kill Pablo, Robert Jordan thinks.
  • Just in the nick of time, Robert Jordan remembers something important. What's in his two big sacks? Dynamite! It wouldn't be wise to start a shooting match in the cave. Pablo must have realized this – hence his confidence.
  • Robert Jordan calls Agustín over and quietly tells him the difficulty he's just brilliantly perceived. Nope, Agustín hadn't thought of it.
  • Time to change tactics. Agustín gets all chummy, Pablo responds in kind, and Robert Jordan plays along.
  • Pablo says that the wind is changing, and that "we will have good weather for it."
  • We? Pilar is aghast. Pablo, grinning and drinking some more, informs her that he's actually changed his mind and wants to do the bridge. The weather did it.
  • Everyone is stunned. Pablo clarifies that before he was drunk, and now he's not.
  • Agustín says he still doesn't trust Pablo, but Pablo says they'll need him to get them to Gredos. How does he know about that?
  • Pablo promises he's sincere when Fernando asks him.
  • Agustín says he's leaving the insane asylum before he goes crazy.