Study Guide

For Whom the Bell Tolls Love

By Ernest Hemingway


Though it is a story of war, For Whom the Bell Tolls is also the tale of the sudden but passionate love between an American volunteer and a Spanish girl brought together for three (and a half) days by a military operation. Each is unprepared for and overwhelmed by the "earth-shaking" experience of romantic love between two people, which neither has ever felt before. Their experience gives to each a new reason for living – the other person – and suggests that the aloneness of the individual can be lost in total union with another. Yet from the beginning it is clear to each that their love may have no future.

Questions About Love

  1. Is Robert Jordan and Maria's love actually just lust? If not, what else do you see behind it? Either way, do you find their three-day love affair convincing, and how does that depend on your answer to the first questions?
  2. Is Robert Jordan and Maria's relationship one between equals? Or is it really all about the gratification of Robert Jordan?
  3. Why would both Maria and Robert Jordan feel that when they have sex it is "like dying"? What could it mean?
  4. What could Robert Jordan and Maria mean when they say they are "the same," or "one"? What do they have in common? Is this a matter of having something in common, or is it something else?

Chew on This

Robert Jordan and Maria's love is in fact nothing more than lust. They have no connection besides their sexual attraction.

Robert Jordan and Maria's relationship is based on the inequality of power between the two of them.

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