Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 41

By Ernest Hemingway

Chapter 41

  • We're back to our group of aspiring bridge-blowers, who have reached the spot where they'll keep the horses. Pablo stops his horse and dismounts, followed by everyone else. They prepare to hobble the horses.
  • Robert Jordan checks up with Agustín to make sure the machine gun is in order, and with Pilar to make sure she knows not to attack the upper post (she's leading the members of Pablo's band in an attack on the saw mill) until the bombs fall. She does.
  • Pablo wants to make sure that Robert Jordan will cover his attack group with the machine guns (there's a little one, too) as they leave the post after assaulting it. He also says again, somewhat oddly, that there are not enough horses.
  • Robert Jordan tries to be all "whatever," and says he'll go on foot. But Pablo tells him softly that there will be a horse for him, and for all of them.
  • Robert Jordan doesn't know exactly what this means, but he has an idea. (We don't get to hear what his idea is.)
  • The two men shake hands. Pablo apologizes for having thrown away the explosives, and says he sees success for the enterprise.
  • Pilar appears beside them and asks if they're now gay.
  • Robert Jordan bids Maria good-bye. But their good-bye kiss is majorly awkward, thanks to Robert Jordan's pack, which slides onto his head and makes it bump into Maria's.
  • Robert Jordan thinks to himself that he hasn't felt that young since he said good-bye to his father on his very first day of school, and has a minor flashback to his youth in Montana.
  • Agustín, Anselmo, and Robert Jordan take off down the hill together. They come to the point where Anselmo and Robert Jordan had watched the terrain that first day; Anselmo has marked it.
  • After setting up the machine gun in a suitable place where it can be well-hidden, Robert Jordan gives Agustín instructions on firing it: he's to fire at anything that comes up on them while he and Anselmo set up the explosives on the bridge. He and Anselmo will take care of the two sentries in the boxes.
  • Leaving Agustín in position, Anselmo and Robert Jordan pick a place to leave the packs of explosives. Wanting to be sure of the plan, and also probably wanting to give the reader a clue about how this whole mess is supposed to work out, Anselmo asks Robert Jordan to review what he's going to do.
  • Anselmo is to cross to the other side of the bridge (through the gorge, not over the bridge – yes, apparently people can walk through the gorge), and, when he hears Robert Jordan fire, to kill his sentry. Then he'll cross back over to retrieve the explosive, and they'll rig the bridge together.
  • Satisfied, and feeling less guilty about the killing he's about to do because he's been ordered to do it by someone else, Anselmo departs.
  • Lying on that pine-needled forest floor and loading his weapon, Robert Jordan waits for daylight.