Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 34

By Ernest Hemingway

Chapter 34

  • It's deep in the night and Andrés is traveling through fascist country with the message to Golz.
  • He feels relieved that he got chosen to take the message: it means he doesn't have to go on the attack. He's reminded of the relief he would feel as a boy when he would wake up and hear rain on the annual bull-baiting day. Rain meant there would be no bull-baiting.
  • Andrés has a flashback. On bull-baiting day, a fierce bull would be released into the town square. He used to look forward to it all year. He was very daring with the bull, and would let it charge him, only to jump away at the last minute. Sometimes he would distract it with a sack, or taunt it by pulling on its horns or tail.
  • Apparently the aim of this rather dubious and barbaric holiday was for the joyful townspeople to celebrate their community by swarming the bull and stabbing it to death with knives.
  • Once, when he and the crowd had jumped upon the bull, he had bitten into the bull's ear and just held on as it bucked. This won him a reputation as the "Bulldog of Villaconejos," and every year afterwards he had to do the same thing.
  • But ultimately Andrés had mixed feelings about bull-baiting. Although "not for anything would he have missed doing it each year," he also "knew there was no better feeling than that one the sound of the rain gave when he knew he would not have to do it."
  • He's conflicted about the bridge affair, too. He can't bear the thought of not going back and leaving his group, and especially his brother, behind. And he'd enjoy killing some fascists.
  • As he climbs a slope leading to the Republican lines, he continues to think. He'd rather be raising chickens than fighting a war when it all comes down to it.
  • But right now Andrés has nothing – except guns. And nothing to give to the world, except excrement. Andrés is very pleased at the thought that he can give his excrement to the world.