Chapter 27 Notes from For Whom the Bell Tolls

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For Whom the Bell Tolls Chapter 27

El Sordo climbs a hill with his men. He does not like the hill, but has no other choice, and he has to kill his dying horse. He has only stolen three horses. Three of the five men are wounded, including himself (injured in the calf and arm), and he is nauseated and in pain. They build dirt mounds for cover. Joaquin, who is eighteen years old, says inspirational communist slogans, which the others tell him are shit. One says that if he believes so much in the Communists, tell them to get them off the hill. Another jokes that the fascists will get them off the hill (they will kill them). Joaquín tells him not to speak such, and they tell him to wipe his mother's breast milk off his chin. El Sordo compares the hill to a sore, and them to the pus, but knows that there is no way for the fascists to approach it. They have killed many fascists, who are brave but stupid. He has not seen any planes, but knows they are lost if the fascists bring a mortar. He feels very vulnerable. One of the men calls Pilar a whore, saying she knows they are dying there, but Sordo tells him there is nothing she could do. They mock Joaquín and say the communist leader Pasionaria hides her son in Russia, and he does not believe them. They curse those who have gone to study in Russia and do not aid them.

Sordo is in much pain and knows this is the last time he will see the sky. He does not fear death, for he has no picture of it, but he is angry that it must be on that hill, and thinks of the alternative.

"Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond." Chapter 27, pg. 313

Topic Tracking: Bravery 13

They hear a voice telling them to surrender, and Sordo pulls himself behind the gun. He shoots into the body of the dead horse, diverting the enemy, and grins when they yell insults. They see a sniper, one more man, and then there is no more movement on the slopes. Below, a captain and lieutenant talk about how the bandits have nothing to expect but to die, and how they are wasting their men and power laying siege to dead men. Captain Mora is very agitated and steps out and challenges the Red swine who shot his mother and sister to shoot him, and fires at the dead horse. Lieutenant Paco Berrendo, whose best friend lies dead on the slope, tells the sniper to go see if there is anyone alive on the hill and is enraged when he says he does not want to. Captain Mora thinks this is ridiculous and once again challenges the bandits to shoot him, again with no result, and shouts obscenities. "There is no language so filthy as Spanish. There are words for all the vile words in English and there are other words and expressions that are used only in countries where blasphemy keeps pace with the austerity of religion." Chapter 27, pg. 318 El Sordo laughs at them above. Mora calls them cowards and strides up the slope, and El Sordo says that this one is for him, his company for the Voyage (or death), shoots him, and shouts mockingly laughing, imitating Mora calling for the bandits to shoot him. El Sordo is planning on getting the other man when Joaquín, ashen-faced, points out the planes. Sordo orders them into position with the automatic rifles. Joaquín begins a Communist slogan, but shifts into a Hail Mary as the explosions start and all he can remember is "at the hour of our death. Amen." There is a huge explosion and Ignacio falls onto him. The planes bomb three times and then leave in the direction of Segovia.

Lt. Berrendo arrives. Joaquín is the only one alive. Berrendo shoots him in the back of the head and orders the bodies brought to La Granja, heads removed. He remarks on the evils of war, crosses himself, and leaves, not wanting to see his orders carried out.

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