Notes on Characters from For Whom the Bell Tolls

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For Whom the Bell Tolls Major Characters

Robert Jordan: Robert Jordan is the hero of the novel. He is a man of great bravery and loyalty. He is an American, and most of the Spaniards call him Inglés, which means English. He has been sent as a demolition expert to blow up a bridge in a strategic position. He meets María, a girl taken prisoner by the Falangists who the guerillas rescued from a train they exploded, and they fall in love. He calls her 'little rabbit.' When she tells him about her rape, he is understanding and still loves her, but is filled with hate for such abominable acts done intentionally. He is unable to let his love for Maria and his focus on his task coexist, and is often cold to her when he has his mind on his work. He is tall and thin, with fair hair. He is originally from Montana, where he is a professor of Spanish. He has lived in Estremadura, in the west of Spain, for ten years; there he learned Spanish fluently and is not often treated like a foreigner. He loves Spain and for that reason, he volunteered to fight in the war behind enemy lines. Throughout the novel, he wrestles with inner conflict over whether by following orders he is using the guerrillas and then leaving them in a worse position than they were before. He thinks to himself a lot. He blows the bridge and while they are all escaping, his horse is injured and falls on his leg, breaking it. He knows he must stay behind, and makes Maria and the others continue on without him. In the last scene, he is lying on the ground, getting ready to shoot an officer in order to delay the cavalry from catching up to his escaping friends.

Anselmo: Anselmo is an old Spanish man. He is from the city of Barco de Avila, in Spain. He is sixty-eight years old. He is a hunter, and has a bear paw of which he is very proud. He believes that killing a man is a sin, and he cries when he has to shoot the sentry before they blow up the bridge. Because Pablo stole the detonator and threw it away, they must blow up the bridge with a device involving grenades. Anselmo is responsible for pulling the wire to detonate it, and is killed by a piece of flying steel. Robert Jordan respects him greatly and considers him his closest friend out of all the guerrillas.

Golz: General Golz gives Robert Jordan his orders to blow up the bridge. Robert Jordan describes his features as thin and sharp. Robert Jordan, conflicted, often curses Golz, but knows that orders are orders. Robert Jordan sends him a dispatch when he realizes that the mission will fail because they don't have enough people, but it reaches him too late.

Pablo: Pablo is the leader of the group of guerrilla men in the mountains. He is a large and heavy peasant. The area is considered his territory and he is considered the leader of the band. He has led many successful and violent uprisings, including blowing up an enemy train and arranging for the massacre of over thirty fascists in his small town. However, there is much talk that he has now lost his nerve, has become cowardly, and is too afraid to die, and this is making him inactive. He is often sullen and defensive, and most of his men no longer trust or respect him, and want to provoke him so they can kill him. He is able to remain calm and they cannot provoke him. He thinks that blowing up the bridge is too big of a risk, and resents that Robert Jordan put them in danger. At one point, he leaves, stealing dynamite and the detonator. Robert Jordan is furious at himself for trusting Pablo. He returns, though, with five men and horses, saying he still does not approve of the bridge plan, but he got lonely and knows they must finish together. At the end, he escapes with the others across the road and up the slope.

The gypsy (Rafael): The gypsy is living in the mountains with Pablo and the others. He is a guerrilla, and eventually escapes with them. He is the subject of many ethnic slurs throughout the course of the book. At one point, Robert Jordan thinks that the gypsy is worthless and mentally unfit for war. This is after the gypsy left his post to hunt hares.

Maria: Maria is nineteen years old, the orphaned daughter of a mayor and his wife who were shot to death by the Falangists, a young radical enemy group. They captured her, shaved her head, and gang-raped her. As a result of her rape, she is probably unable to become pregnant. Pablo's group, who carried her to safety and took her in, rescued her. Pilar takes care of her and she is now able to talk again. Her hair is still very short, and she thinks she is ugly, but she is described as quite beautiful. She meets Robert Jordan and they fall in love; he declares that he will marry her, and refers to her as his wife. He calls her 'little rabbit.' She wants to be a dutiful wife to him, and serves him as such during the three days they have together. She tells him about the rape and is afraid he will not love and marry her, but he understands and says he is proud of her and her family. When Robert Jordan has to stay behind, she desperately wants to stay with him, but he will not let this happen and wants her to continue life without him, and says that she will carry him with her always.

Pilar: Pilar is Pablo's woman. She is also Maria's guardian after they rescue the poor girl from the train. She is large and heavy with a friendly manner, and she likes to make jokes, and can stand up to any man, especially Pablo. She knows that she is the real leader, and that Pablo's men have turned against him, but she remembers the brave man he once was. She believes she was born ugly, but is beautiful on the inside, and has had many lovers, including a famous bullfighter. She is happy for Robert and Maria, but also jealous because she feels old. Throughout the book, she stands up for herself and is loyal. She escapes with them at the end.

El Sordo: El Sordo is the leader of a band of guerillas, including Joaquín and Ignacio. His name means 'the deaf one' because he is hard of hearing. He is loyal and brave. He goes to get them more horses and the cavalry follows the tracks and massacres him and his band. Pablo's group hears, but can do nothing.

Agustín: Agustín is one of the men in Pablo's band of guerrillas. He is loyal, but quick to judge, and has a bad temper. He does not trust Pablo, and stands up to him often, but he knows that Pablo has the intelligence and talent necessary to be a good guerrilla.

Primitivo: Primitivo is a man, whom Robert Jordan describes as flat-faced, in Pablo's band of guerrillas.

Andrés: Andrés is a young man in Pablo's band of guerrillas. He has a brother, Eladio. Robert Jordan sends him with the dispatch to Golz to cancel the attack.

Fernando: Fernando is a young man in Pablo's band of guerrillas. He is very optimistic and even naïve throughout the book. During the attack, he is shot in the groin. He knows he must be left behind, and they leave him behind with his gun.

Minor Characters

Kashkin: Kashkin is already dead when the book begins. He is a foreigner to the Spaniards, and fair and tall like Robert Jordan. He died in April, after an explosion of a train, which he planned with Pablo, leader of the guerrilla group in the mountains. He was shot in the back and unwilling to be left behind, so Robert Jordan had to shoot him. The band in the mountains agrees that he was very rare, with a strange voice and a nervous manner. Robert Jordan, an explsoives expert, is sent to replace him and blow up the bridge. Kashkin is not very well liked at the Hotel Gaylord, where Robert Jordan goes to talk to Kashkin.

Finito: Finito is a bullfighter who Pilar, now the woman of Pablo, had as a lover. Their time in Valencia was very romantic, and they made love to the smell of fireworks and flowers. Pablo disparages him, and Pilar tells him that Finito, unlike Pablo, was not afraid to die. In the ring, he was fearless, but out of the ring, he was one of the most fearful people Pilar had ever met. He would not even put the head of a bull in his house. He is presented with a head at a banquet in his honor and is horrified when they uncover it and it is staring right at him as if alive. He is very short for a bullfighter, and for that reason, he keeps getting hit in the chest with the horns of the bull, and he eventually dies from the internal bleeding of the wounds. Primitivo says that if he was so short, he should not have been a bullfighter, and Pilar is enraged with his simple-mindedness.

Don Guillermo Martín: Don Guillermo Martín is a fascist who was flailed to death by Pablo's angry mob. They got the flails and clubs from his shop. Pilar thinks that if the mob had not become drunk and crazed with hate, he might have been spared. His wife cried out to him before he was beaten to death. Later, the woman, Pilar, saw his wife crying outside by a fountain.

Don Benito Garcia: Don Garcia is the Mayor of the town. He was the first to be flailed. At first, no one did anything. The man who first struck him was a disgruntled tenant.

Don Federico Gonzalez: Don Gonzalez was the second to be flailed. He could not speak or walk, and reached his hands up to the sky.

Don Ricardo Montcalvo: Don Montcalvo was the third to be flailed. He suggested that they all die together, and when Pablo declared they must go one at a time, he died, saying he would never be more ready. He said that to die is nothing, the only bad thing is to die at the hands of Pablo. He was clubbed quicky because he insulted Spain and the Republic and their fathers.

Lieutenant Colonel Miranda: Lt. Col. Miranda is at one of the posts Andrés stops at while delivering the dispatch.

Don Faustino Rivero: Don Faustino was handsome and well known for annoying women he pursued. He was a failed and cowardly bullfighter who faked sickness to avoid a bullfight. He had such bravado that he volunteered to come out, but they taunted him so much when he emerged, he became scared, and tried to go back in. The mob eventually threw him over the cliff without beating him.

Don Anastacio Rivas: Don Rivas was extremely wealthy and fat, and was beaten to death by the drunken mob. The drunken man in the black and red scarf tried to set his dead body, lying in the plaza because it is too heavy to move, on fire several times.

Joaquín: Joaquín is in El Sordo's guerilla band. He is a young man who helped carry Maria back from the train. His parents were killed by fascists, and his sister is imprisoned. Pilar is upset to see panic in his eyes when she jokes about kissing him, and feels old and ugly.

the priest: The priest who gave the men at Pablo's fascist massacre their last rites. When the drunken mob broke out, he was locked in with the rest of the prisoners. Pablo unlocked the door and let the mob in. Pilar saw the priest hacked with reapers and grain tools. Pablo was upset that the priest died 'badly,' that is, he tried to escape the blows. He expected the Spanish priest to have more dignity.

Gomez: Gomez is an officer in the Republican army in Estremadura. He goes with Andrés to André Marty's office.

Karkov: Karkov is a friend of Robert Jordan's whom he talks to at Gaylord's. He is an extremely intelligent and politically savvy man who tells Robert Jordan what he knows because he knows that Robert Jordan is reliable and writes truthfully. He shows up at André Marty's post and tells him to give him the dispatch that he confiscated when he threw Andrés and Gomez in prison. Marty does not know why, but he always feels that Karkov has the upper hand. He gives him the dispatch, and Andrés is able to give it to the intended recipient, but it is too late and the attack commences.

El Campesino: El Campesino is a peasant leader of the Republican forces. However, he is not really a peasant, but a Spanish sergeant who deserted the Spanish Foreign Legion. Robert Jordan knows that a war involving so many peasants needs a peasant leader, but that a real peasant leader might be too much like Pablo, violent, passionate, and unpredictable.

Mitchell: Mitchell is the British economist that Karkov admires. He is a fool, but no one realizes it because he has such an impressive appearance and people trust him because of his conspirator's face. He gets money from governments, claiming to have connections with the governments of larger, more threatening nations, but these connections are not real.

Blanquet: Blanquet is the man who smelled death on Kashkin.

Captain Mora: Captain Mora is an enemy officer. He contributes to the offensive against Sordo.

Sniper: The sniper also contributes to the offensive against Sordo.

Lieutenant Berrendo: Lieutenant Berrendo is a leader in the forces against the guerrillas. El Sordo's men kill his best friend on the hill. He orders the heads of Sordo and his men taken after their defeat.

Eladio: Eladio is the brother of Andrés, part of Pablo's band of guerrillas. He worries about his brother when he goes to deliver the dispatch. He dies on the hill the day the bridge is blown, as do Fernando and Anselmo.

Durán: Durán is a friend of Robert Jordan's whom he talks to at Gaylord's. He too fights in the army with no training.

Grandfather: Robert Jordan thinks of his grandfather one night when he cannot fall asleep. Grandfather was a hero of the American Civil War. Robert Jordan thinks his father was a coward, for he killed himself with Grandfather's Civil War gun, which Robert Jordan threw into a deep river after his funeral. He idolizes Grandfather and thinks it is a pity that so many years separate them, for he could have learned a lot from the old man, and wishes he could give him advice and that he could see his bravery.

Dolores: Dolores is also known as La Pasionara. She is a figure in the Communist movement, and Joaquín admires her.

the five men: When Pablo comes back after leaving the camp, he tells them he has thrown the dynamite and detonator in the river, but brings five men. Later, it is made clear that he was using them, and shot them when he did not need them anymore, and this embitters Agustín greatly.

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