For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 11
They meet a guard, Joaquin, who agrees that the planes are a bad sign. He tells Maria that she is pretty and tells her how he carried her from the train on his shoulders. Teasing, he offers to carry her, and says that he is glad she was hanging down his back when the shots were coming from behind. She calls him a swine. Pilar reminds her that he could have dropped her to dodge bullets, and he says that Pilar would have shot him, or scared him to death with her mouth. He says that he shined shoes before the war, but Pilar can tell from his pigtail and his quickness that he was training to be a bullfighter. In his town, Valladolid, his parents were shot, and Robert Jordan is saddened to hear of another time this occurred.
"You only heard the statement of the loss. You did not see the father fall as Pilar made him see the fascists die in that story she had told by the stream. You knew the father died in some courtyard, or against some wall, or in some field or orchard, or at night, in the lights of a truck, beside some road. You had seen the lights of the car from down the hills and heard the shooting and afterwards you had come down to the road and found the bodies. You did not see the mother shot, nor the sister, nor the brother. You heard about it; you heard the shots; and you saw the bodies." Chapter 11, pg. 134
He wants to take down Pilar's story, for she cannot write, even though she is an incredible storyteller. He wants to have known the people, for the partizans take action and the peasants remain to take the punishment. He is learning a lot from the war, and he is lucky to have lived in Spain for ten years before the war. He speaks the language and does not feel like a foreigner most of the time, except when the Spanish turn on him, as they turn on themselves. He stops himself, and thinks he wants to win the war first, and then after that, think and judge. He sees Pilar and the two younger ones as a mountain and two fresh trees, untouched despite all that has happened. He remembers a Belgian boy who enlisted with five others from his village, and how after they all died, the boy was given an orderly job and could do nothing but cry. He thinks Maria seems sound and normal enough. He idolizes her like a movie star and wishes she could wake and find out that the bad things were just a dream.
They are approaching El Sordo's cave. Joaquín tells the woman how the fascists shot his parents and imprisoned his sister. He apologizes for burdening them when he knows they have the same troubles, and Maria says that her troubles are such a big bucket that his falling in will not fill it. She kisses him, she says as his sister, and says that they are all family. He asks if even Robert Jordan is family, and then is embarrassed. Pilar jokes that it has been a long time since she kissed a bullfighter, and he does not like her teasing. She says he is very tender for a bullfighter. She feels old and ugly, having seen panic in Joaquin's face when she joked about kissing him, though he denies it.
They greet El Sordo, whose real name is Santiago. He is short and heavy with a thin, hooked nose like an Indian, gray hair, and yellow-brown eyes. He offers them food and drink. He tells Maria and Joaquín to go, and they drink and discuss the war. There has been much movement of troops in Segovia, and on the Valladolid road. El Sordo wants to blow the bridge, but Robert Jordan tells him he must wait for orders. He wants El Sordo's men to cut the telephone and attack the roadmender's post. Pablo will cut the telephone below and attack the other post. Robert Jordan tells him they need horses for the retreat and he says it is impossible to have eight by the next day. They review their stock of guns and ammunition. Robert Jordan wants more men, but El Sordo says that among the hundred, only four are not "undependables," and every day, more become bad.
El Sordo speaks a simpler Spanish to Robert Jordan because he is a foreigner. El Sordo suggests they retreat to Gredos after the bombing, but Pilar wants to go to the Republic. Robert Jordan suggests Gredos because there they could operate against the main line of the railway. He realizes he has made a mistake, telling Spaniards that foreigners can do better than they can. Still, he recognizes that they have not done anything major since they lost the foreigner Kashkin at the train explosion. Kashkin was very nervous. He was shot in the back, and was unwilling to be left behind, so Robert Jordan shot him. He suggests Gredos again and the woman explodes into obscenities and gets extremely defensive, saying he will return to the Republic which she loved when he was just a child, and leave them in the hills to die, and to take his crop-headed whore with him. Maria hears her and says that she could become a whore if the woman wishes, and that she should calm down. The woman calms and takes a drink. Robert Jordan tells Maria to go again. He thinks they should blow the bridge at daylight, but escape in daylight is problematic, and they cannot return to the camp afterward and stay until dark. El Sordo tells him that to make it to Gredos would be a miracle, not a plan. Robert Jordan says he appreciates El Sordo's help and loyalty, and that on paper, the plan is not as complicated, nor does paper bleed. The woman says again that she wants to go to the Republic. El Sordo says that when they win, it will all be Republic.