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For Whom the Bell Tolls Notes on Setting, Objects & Places

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For Whom the Bell Tolls Objects/Places

bridge: Robert Jordan is sent as an explosives expert to demolish the bridge. It is made of steel. The enemy sends trucks and troops over the bridge. After the bridge is demolished, the guerrillas will attack the enemy, then repair the bridge and retreat.

Madrid: Madrid is the capital of Spain.

La Granja: La Granja is a city in Spain. The road on either side of the bridge leads there in one direction, and the guerrillas are constantly looking for reports of what is happening there.

Segovia: Segovia is a city in Spain. The guerillas hope to go as far as Segovia and perhaps take the city when they finish with the attack and the bridge. They see many enemy planes coming to and from Segovia.

Vicente Rojo: Vicente Rojo is the man who made the plan for the attack and demolition of the bridge.

partizan: partizan is a Russian word used to refer to the guerrilla work that Robert Jordan is doing. He says he likes partizan work for the open air.

Camarada: Spanish for comrade. People in the war refer to each other as comrade. At one point, Robert Jordan says he does not like it when they call him Don, colloquial for Mr., and insists that they call him Camarada. Pilar tells him he takes his politics very seriously, and that she, on the other hand, can joke about anything.

guardia civil: Spanish for civil guard. These are the Fascist police soldiers. Pablo kills four of them with a shotgun.

Valladolid: Valladolid is a city in Spain. Finito has his last bullfight there.

bullfighter: Bullfighting is an old tradition in Spain. A bullfighter is a well-trained expert, who wears a traditional costume referred to as a 'suit of lights' made up of sequined tight three-quarter pants, a short jacket, and a specific kind of black hat, and performs various maneuvers to tease and dodge the bull. It is a difficult and dangerous sport. Eventually, if he is successful, he kills the bull with a single thrust between the shoulder blades. The men are otherwise known as matadors, matadores, toreadores, matadores de toros. Finito, Pilar's lover before Pablo, was a bullfighter before he died, and Joaquín was training to be a bullfighter.

máquina: Spanish for machine, it refers to the automatic rifles. The guerrillas received rifles by porter, and did not know how to use them until the experimented and took them apart. Robert Jordan shows them how to aim, and how to find positions from which to shoot the enemy.

Moscas: Moscas are a Spanish fighter plane, actually a Boeing P32. Anselmo thinks he sees them in the sky, but Robert Jordan recognizes them as enemy planes. Moscas literally means flies, as in the animal.

absinthe: Absinthe is extremely strong liquor made with wormwood. Robert Jordan likes it very much, and it calms him. At the end, when he is waiting with his broken leg to shoot the officer, he reaches for it and is very disappointed to find it is not there.

Fascist: Fascists are members of the Fascist party. Fascism is an anti-democratic political party with its origins in Italy. They believe that one powerful leader should govern the people. The Fascists won the Spanish Civil War, led by General Francisco Franco, who ruled a repressive dictatorship in Spain from the time of the end of the Civil War in 1939, to his death in 1975.

gored: To be gored is to be stabbed, even killed, by the horns of a bull while bullfighting.

Republic: The Republicans are pro-democracy, and fight against the Fascists, who are anti-democracy. The guerrillas in For Whom the Bell Tolls are Republicans. They lost the Spanish Civil War.

Government post: Andrés and Gomez must pass several government posts to deliver the dispatch from Robert Jordan to Golz.

Valencia: Valencia is a city in Spain. Pilar and Finito, the bullfighter, spent time there as lovers.

Feria: Spanish for festival, or fair.

Ayuntamiento: The Ayuntamiento, or city hall, is where Pablo keeps the fascists until they come out into the plaza and are beaten by the two lines of men with clubs.

Inglés: The guerrillas call Robert Jordan Inglés, which means English. He tries to correct them, saying that he is American, but they do not really mind the difference, and the nickname sticks.

Gredos: They are planning to escape to Gredos after the demolition and attack on the bridge. Pablo is making their escape plan. Robert Jordan suggests that there they can work against the main line of the railway, and go south into Estremadura.

Estremadura: Estremadura is a region in the west of Spain. Robert Jordan spent most of his time there before fighting in the war, and he has an Estremadura accent when he speaks Spanish.

tortillera: Spanish colloquialism for lesbian. Literally means 'tortilla maker.' Pilar says that although she wants Maria to be happy, she still is jealous of Robert Jordan, but is not a tortillera.

anarchists: The anarchists wear red and black scarves. One of them, a drunkard, tries to set the body of Don García on fire the day of Pablo's fascist massacre. When they dump the bodies of the fascists over the cliff, Pilar says she would have rather they dropped thirty of the red and black scarved drunks. When Andrés approaches the post on his way to Golz, anarchists on the other side of the fence seem paranoid and threaten to bomb him, thinking that he is a fascist because he brings a message from behind fascist lines. Realizing he is dealing with the anarchists, the crazies in the red and black scarves, Andres pretends to align with them by yelling 'long live us!' Recognizing a familiar slogan, they welcome him and try to start up conversation.

Gallegos: Agustín can tell that the men in the enemy post he is watching are Gallegos, or natives of the northwest region of Galicia, because they are speaking the Gallego dialect. He wonders what they of the green country think of the snowstorm.

cojones: Spanish, colloquial for balls. Used many times in reference to Pablo having lost his, that is, having lost his courage. Pablo, ignorant of nationality, assumes Robert Jordan is Scottish, though he corrects him several times, and when he asks him what he wears under his skirt (Scottish traditional dress for men is a kilt, a pleated skirt), Robert Jordan replies that he wears his balls under his skirt.

negro, blanco, rojo: Spanish for black, red, and white. Pablo calls Agustín black because of his dark skin, and Agustín gets angry. Pablo calls him white, and Agustín gets angry and says he is red, like the red stars of the Republic.

camp: The guerrillas have their camp inside a cave. They live, sleep, and eat there. It is in the mountains, with a pine forest around them, and it is behind fascist lines. They leave the camp when they advance on their attack.

horses: Pablo is very proud of his horses. They lack enough horses for all to escape, though. The gypsy goes to get more, and the enemy is able to find him from the tracks in the snow and massacre him and his men. When Agustín, furious, tells Pablo that Pablo rapes horses in order to provoke him, Pablo is unfazed and tells Agustín that the horses are smarter than people. Robert Jordan kills a man on horseback, and they acquire a big grey horse, which eventually falls on Robert Jordan's leg, breaking it, when he is escaping with the others.

Gaylord's: Gaylord's is a hotel in Madrid that has been taken over by the Russians. At Gaylord's, Robert Jordan talks to Karkov, who is a very intelligent and politically savvy man. Robert Jordan did not like it at first, and was afraid of being corrupted by the hotel's luxury; the food is too good for a besieged city, but he grew to enjoy it. He likes it because he learns a lot there.

the dispatch: The dispatch is from Robert Jordan to Golz, who gave him the orders about the bridge and the following attack. Robert Jordan realizes that the enemy anticipates their attack, and wants Golz to cancel it. He sends Andrés with the dispatch. Andrés finally reaches the government post, where André Marty, a crazy and embittered ex-war-hero confiscates it and imprisons him. Karkov shows up and is able to get it and give it to Duval, one of Robert Jordan's intended recipients, who gets in contact with Golz, who tells them they are screwed, that there is nothing they can do.

Custer: Custer was a fairly famous general in the American Civil War. After the war, he was sent to kill Native Americans in the west. His last stand was at Little Big Horn, where he and his men were outnumbered and massacred-this is well-known as Custer's Last Stand. Robert Jordan's grandfather, in telling Robert Jordan about warfare, tells him that Custer was simply a man who was very good at getting himself into trouble and out of it.

Falangists: Falangists were a group of young, conservative, violent, extremely radical leaders. They believed in authoritarianism and nationalism. It was the nearest Spain came to having a fascist party. General Francisco Franco, dictator from 1939-1975, fused their party with the right-wing Catholic party, the Carlists, in 1937. They are the ones that shaved Maria's head and raped her, and when telling Robert Jordan about it, she says she would like to kill many Falangists.

safe-conduct pass: Andrés and Gomez receive a safe-conduct pass at one of the posts they pass through. Marty confiscates it, but Karkov gets it back to them along with the dispatch meant for Golz.

Bullbaiting: Bullbaiting is a sport in which the men hold onto the bull while it tries to throw them off. Andrés has excelled at this particularly in his town of Villaconejos. Once he gripped the bull's ear in his teeth, and it becomes his trademark and earns him the name 'bulldog.'

Judas Iscariot: Judas is a figure in the New Testament. He was one of the twelve apostles. He betrayed the Lord Jesus for the price of thirty pieces of silver. When Pablo returns after leaving and taking the dynamite and detonator, Pilar welcomes him but is cold, saying that Judas Iscariot is his predecessor.

Spanish Civil War: The Spanish Civil War took place from 1936 to 1939 resulting in the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, which lasted until his death in 1975. The Republicans were pro-democracy and the Nationalists were anti-democracy.

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