Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 20

By Ernest Hemingway

Chapter 20

  • It's night time, Robert Jordan's outside in his sleeping bag, and you know what that means.
  • He's waiting for Maria.
  • Earlier that evening, he had cut down a small tree, cut it up, and used the branches and trunk to fashion a makeshift bed.
  • Pilar had promised him she would watch the sacks with the explosive during the night.
  • Robert Jordan said goodnight to everyone, and went back outside. Nobody can seem to figure out why he would want to sleep outside in the snow.
  • Anyway, out here on the forest floor, Robert Jordan smells the odor of pine boughs. There's a smell he loves, not any of that gross death stuff. He also likes the smell of bacon, coffee, and cider mills.
  • Somebody makes a sound, as if to come out of the cave, but then whoever it is ducks back in.
  • Robert Jordan is getting impatient. When is that Maria coming?
  • Maria comes. Wearing only her "wedding shirt." She gets into the sleeping bag.
  • They kiss. Off comes the wedding shirt.
  • Maria says that they are one – one body, one heart. Hasn't he felt this too?
  • Yes, he has felt this too.
  • Yet, says the unusually perceptive Maria, they are also different! Who knew? But she wishes they were exactly the same.
  • Robert Jordan says she doesn't mean that.
  • Maria means that. She would like to be him, because she loves him so much.
  • Then presumably they get it on. Or at least that's what we assume from the shift in their dialogue: "Maria." "Yes." "Maria." "Yes." "Maria." "Yes." "Maria." "Oh, yes. Please."
  • "Afterwards," they lie together, and decide that what just happened wasn't quite so amazing as the afternoon's sex in the heathers. But Maria liked it more.
  • They fall asleep. But Robert Jordan wakes up later in the night, and lies there in the sleeping bag thinking.