Chapter 1 Notes from For Whom the Bell Tolls

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For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 1

It is the late 1930's in Spain, during the Spanish Civil War. Robert Jordan lies in the forest. He sees a mill in the distance. An old man, Anselmo, points out the bridge, and says that the mill and the roadmender's hut hold enemy posts. Robert Jordan is tall and thin, in peasant clothes, with fair hair. They take a steep climb. Anselmo is an experienced climber and guide, and Robert Jordan knows this is important when traveling behind enemy lines. He has been sent to blow up the bridge. General Golz explained that the explosion must occur only when the attack has begun, so that the enemy cannot repair it; the date and time is subject to change due to forces out of his control. The enemy moves trucks, tanks, and artillery via the bridge. An aerial bombardment will precede the attack. After the bridge is blown, Golz' troops will storm the pass, repair the bridge, and advance on the city of La Granja. The plan is by Vicente Rojo. Eventually, they plan to take Segovia. Robert Jordan does not want to hear any more. "I would always rather not know. Then, no matter what can happen, it was not me that talked." Chapter 1, pg. 7 Golz asks him how he likes partizan work, guerrilla work behind enemy lines, and Robert Jordan says he likes the open air. They drink Spanish brandy, and Golz tries to joke with him. Robert Jordan remembers his pale face, hawk eyes, and thin lips.

Anselmo returns with Pablo, a large peasant. Robert Jordan shows him his identity papers and sees he cannot read. He tries to flatter Pablo by saying that he has heard he is an excellent guerrilla. Pablo objects to blowing up the bridge, for creating a disturbance puts them in danger. Robert Jordan worries about his sullen demeanor, for it is how men get before they betray or quit. "'I don't like that sadness,' he thought. That sadness is bad. That's the sadness they bet before they quit or betray. That is the sadness that comes before the sell-out." Chapter 1, pg. 12 Robert Jordan admires his horses (he knows that Pablo wants him to), but also tells of their defects. Pablo shows them saddles from guardia civil, enemy soldiers that he killed. He is sullen and speaks of how the horses are strong. Pablo thinks he will be hunted and eventually killed, and challenges what right a foreigner has to ask him for help. Robert Jordan replies that he is only here on orders, that he has not asked for help, and that he would rather have been born in Spain. Anselmo says that Pablo has become self-serving since getting his horses. Anselmo says that he is afraid of no one, not even (in reference to Pablo's slyness) foxes or wolves. Robert cannot decide if Pablo is gloomy or dangerous. He pities him, remembering how he too had been gloomy when Golz wanted him to be happy. He tells himself to stop, for he is a bridge-blower and not a thinker.

Topic Tracking: Foreigners 1
Topic Tracking: Bravery 1
Topic Tracking: Loyalty 1

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