Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Friendship

By Ernest Hemingway


For Whom the Bell Tolls revolves around the idea of communion between human beings expressed in its epigraph. Connecting to others is the only way to overcome the emptiness and loneliness at the heart of each individual, especially in the hopelessness of war. It's their camaraderie which keeps many of the characters afloat. The most everyday activities and expressions of friendliness – being humorous, telling stories, touching, even swearing together – preserve some sense of normality, of humanity in the midst of "barbarism." The protagonist is transformed by the bonds he forms with the people around him over the course of only a few days.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Why do you think Robert Jordan is able to feel so close to the guerillas in so short a time? How is it that they begin to bond?
  2. You've heard our two cents about Pablo in the character section, but what do you think of him? Is he motivated by his concern for his friends from the start? Or is it really something which dawns on him at the end?
  3. Do you think Robert Jordan ultimately dies for his friends rather than for the Republic? Does friendship prevail over duty?

Chew on This

It is seeing his sacrifice as something he does for his friends that gives Robert Jordan's death a purpose, and that serves as his ultimate consolation.

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