Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 42

By Ernest Hemingway

Chapter 42

  • Andrés and Gomez have made progress toward Navacerrada. They are passing loaded trucks moving up the road.
  • Up ahead, there's been an accident: one truck has smashed into the truck in front of it, and this is stalling the whole line. But on their trusty little motorbike, Gomez and Andrés pass by.
  • Andrés is really impressed by the Republican army. It's BIG. He also really likes the motorcycle ride. It's "mucho, mucho."
  • They come upon a large building with sentries. Stopping there, Gomez asks where General Golz is. Golz isn't there, a sentry says, but at the Comandancia. The sentry isn't friendly: he thinks Gomez is being pesky and asking too many questions.
  • A large staff car comes up toward the building and stops. Out of it steps a large, beret-wearing, French-speaking old man. Yes, he's French, and not just that, he's Comrade Marty, as Gomez recognizes – a legendary international revolutionary. (The narrator also informs us he's bad news).
  • Gomez asks Comrade Marty to tell them where Golz is: they have an urgent dispatch.
  • Comrade Marty wants to know where it came from. Gomez tells him it's from behind fascist lines.
  • Marty, reasoning that if it's behind fascist lines they must be fascists, orders them to be arrested at once. They're to be brought to him when he calls for them. Comrade Marty goes into the house with the dispatch.
  • As they are searched by the guard, Gomez and Andrés learn that Marty is a nutcase and should not be asked anything. Apparently he has "a mania for shooting people," and "kills more than the bubonic plague."
  • Fortunately for the presently unfortunate Gomez and Andrés, the guard doesn't like Marty, and doesn't want him to kill any more Spaniards. He promises to inform the first responsible officer who comes along that they're in the hands of the nutcase.
  • Andrés and Gomez are called in to see Marty. He starts to interrogate them about where they've come from, how they knew Golz was there, etc. But it's clear he's already decided they're fascist liars deserving of judicious death.
  • The narrator gives us a brief foray into Marty's extraordinarily paranoid little brain. Marty does not think that their communications with Golz prove they're not fascists. Oh no. That must mean that Golz is really a traitor. Golz! Can you believe it? Marty himself barely can.
  • Marty orders Gomez and Andrés to be taken away, and they begin shouting smack at him. But Marty doesn't care. He's obviously heard it all before.
  • By the way, the narrator lets us know, Golz and Marty do not get along well at all. Golz never agrees with Marty militarily. He also hates him for being a paranoid maniac who kills his own troops for no reason.
  • Luckily for Andrés and Gomez, Karkov – who is also not a member of the Marty fan club – arrives. He asks if he has heard anything of a message coming from an American (Robert Jordan) behind fascist lines.
  • Nope, says Marty, playing dumb.
  • Karkov doesn't buy it, and demands the dispatch. Seething silently, Marty hands it over.
  • Karkov orders Andrés and Gomez to be released and escorted to Golz's HQ. After which he allows himself one last brief but pleasurable confrontation with Marty. Karkov's going to bring him down, he says.
  • On the road again. Andrés and Gomez take the motorcycle to a point off the road where three staff cars are clustered near a dugout. There they find a chauffeur for one of the cars, who takes the dispatch to Golz's Chief of Staff.
  • The Chief of Staff, in the dugout, makes some calls to find Golz, and finally gets a hold of him.
  • Golz gets the message, but it's too late. He responds simply that "Nous sommes foutus…" For those of you who don't parler francais, that means "we're (fill in the blank with another word starting with "f")'ed.