Table of Contents
In Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, Republican supporter Robert Jordan joins a gang of guerrillas to blow up a bridge that fascists use to maintain their supply lines. Jordan and his guide, Anselmo, trek across the slopes near the bridge in search of potential bomb shelters. Jordan and Anselmo organize a guerrilla army, which reflects the number of individuals required to convey the bomb due to their blind loyalty to the Republican cause. The reader equates Jordan’s growing infatuation with Maria, the village chief’s daughter, with psychological comfort from the horrors of war. Instead of fleeing with Maria and retiring peacefully, Jordan pushes the insurgents to finish their mission. The emergence of war threatens the livelihood of the entire society, where characters choose to sacrifice themselves for a better tomorrow where people shall enjoy peace. For instance, Jordan decides to blow up the bridge alone, but he dies in the process, leaving Maria in mourning.
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Themes of Loss
According to Karjagdiu and Mrasori (2022), each central character in For Whom the Bell Tolls loses something significant during the battle. Look at a character like Maria; she gets raped by a group of fascist troops. Following the murder of his parents, Joaquin is forced to grow up without the parents, thus resulting in suffering psychologically. The battle takes a devastating psychological toll on the population due to the loss of materials. Robert Jordan first believed he was on the “good side” due to his support for the Republican cause when he traveled to Spain. As a consequence of the war, Robert Jordan grew disillusioned and less enthusiastic about the Republican cause.
When individuals on both sides of a dispute turn to violence, they lose their innocence. After participating in the slaughter of local fascists, the roughnecks in Pablo’s hamlet must confront their violent natures. Through the vergers of war, it’s clear both Anselmo and Lieutenant Berrendo had moral reservations about murdering and mutilating individuals, thus creating a lot of amenities and a feeling of revenge amongst individuals they had killed their spouses. Numerous people are injured in battles, even if they do not actively engage in the fighting. Hemingway utilizes the book to demonstrate the conceptions of justice and how wrongs are flexible to circumstance-dependent.
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According to Karjagdiu and Mrasori (2022), on the journey to heightened self-awareness, personal growth, and good interpersonal relationships, Hemingway advocated for achieving a balance between nature and man, man and woman, and international peace is one of the most challenging goals to pursue. However, how well one knows himself and the people around them will decide the harmonious coexistence. People must deflate their self-importance to nurture “the emotion of love.” Humans may regain the natural world’s favor by reconnecting with nature and rediscovering its enchantment.
Hemingway used analogies throughout the novel to illustrate how naïve the rebels are to the reality of war and its consequences. During the guerillas’ attempt to demolish the bridge in Spain, a snowfall happened, producing “the exhilaration of war, except everything was spotless,” in Jordan’s words. By equating the violence and adrenaline of conflict to a blizzard, Hemingway depicts warfare as chaotic, perplexing, and ultimately unsafe for its participants. Rebels’ lack of forethought about the consequences of their hurried, impulsive attempts to prevail is emphasized by the metaphor of the snowfall, which hastens their demise in the same way that the combat has. As the rebels try again to blow explosives beneath the bridge, Jordan remembers his days as a matador. It understands that “the struggle he is now waging is another bullfight.” Hemingway’s comparison of a peasant to a bullfight suggests that the peasant’s unshakable support for the Republican cause may be explained by the peasant’s enjoyment of violence and the significance of honorable death in Spanish culture. Hemingway (2019) uses similarities between a blizzard and a bullfight to demonstrate that the Spanish Civil War was a terrible and futile struggle that claimed far too many lives.
Hemingway used metaphors and images to emphasize the contrast between conflict and nature. Jordan observes the surroundings while he works with wire and pliers, taking in views such as “the dazzling trout swimming peacefully in the river” and “the sunshine streaming over the rustling green foliage of the mountainside.” Hemingway’s depiction of Jordan’s scenery contrasts the tranquil beauty of pristine nature with the frightening, artificial death traps that lay in wait nearby for unwary victims. According to Guill (2020), this juxtaposition used by Hemingway illustrates how the devastation of war and the beauty of nature struggle for control over the Spanish countryside. The book’s opening and closing pictures are Hemingway’s descriptions of Jordan’s “chest against the brown, gritty, pine needles and brittle leaves.” According to Mugair et al. (2019), despite Hemingway’s normally basic sentence structure consisting of simple nouns and verbs, the use of modifiers to describe the lush, pine-needled woodland floor underscores Jordan’s love for Spain despite the brutality of the war. In contrast to his portrayal of war as a source of devastation, callousness, and strife, Hemingway often used symbolism to describe nature as a source of life and peace.
Hemingway employs metaphor, imagery, and repetition to represent the Spanish Civil War as a reckless, mindless battle and to illustrate the disastrous consequences of violence in terms of loss of life and property, enhancing the work’s anti-war message. Still, for the most part, the work focuses on basic sentence structure and coarse language. Some critics have even asserted that Hemingway incorporated these rhetorical methods at random into the plot, throwing doubt on the novel’s style of language and its efficacy in achieving its objectives.
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- Guill, S. (2020). The Red and White Terrors: Civil War and Political Savagery in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. The Hemingway Review, 40(1), 29-52.
- Hemingway, E. (2019). For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Hemingway Library Edition. Simon and Schuster.
- Karjagdiu, L., & Mrasori, N. (2022). Influences of Ernest Hemingway’s Novel” For Whom the Bell Tolls” on Petro Marko’s Novel” Hasta la Vista”. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 12(2), 175-175.
- Mugair, S. K., Khadum, B. A. J., & Khalaf, H. M. A. (2019). A Stylistic Analysis of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Opción: Revista de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, (35), 28.