For Whom the Bell Tolls Plot Summary
It is the late 1930's in Spain, during the Spanish Civil War, and a guerrilla group is in the mountains behind enemy lines. Robert Jordan plans to blow up a bridge, which the enemy uses to move trucks, tanks, and artillery. Pablo, the leader, objects to blowing up the bridge, for it puts them in danger. Robert Jordan worries Pablo will betray them. They arrive at the camp. A beautiful girl, Maria, brings stew. She and Robert Jordan fall in love at first sight. Robert Jordan meets Pablo's woman, a large and heavy peasant with gypsy blood.
One of the guerrillas, Anselmo, tells Robert Jordan that he is a hunter and not a killer of men. They meet Agustín, who speaks in a filthy manner, but is a loyal man. The gypsy Rafael says they want him to kill Pablo. Robert Jordan does not want to. That night, Robert and Maria make love. She confides that she has been raped, and he says that if she is with him, all her pain will go away.
Pilar tells about how Pablo arranged for the massacre of over thirty fascists. She tells Robert Jordan she is jealous of he and Maria and feels old. Robert Jordan thinks about how one can live as fully in seventy hours as in seventy years.
A bad snowstorm starts. Pablo is very drunk, and things get tense as they try to provoke him. He leaves, then announces that he is back with them. Robert Jordan resents the situation. He thinks of the Hotel Gaylord in Madrid, where he used to talk to his friend Karkov about wartime politics.
Robert Jordan shoots an enemy soldier who comes to the camp. They take his horse. El Sordo goes to look for more horses and he and his men are massacred. The others can do nothing. Robert Jordan sends Andrés with a dispatch for Golz asking him to cancel the attack. He tells Maria of a fantasy that they will live in Madrid. She tells him about her rape when Falangists took her town and shot her parents.
Pablo steals dynamite and equipment and disappears. He returns with five men, and they are shocked. Robert Jordan feels optimistic again. Andrés reaches brigade headquarters. Commander André Marty is crazy and locks him up and confiscates the dispatch. Karkov arrives and gets it back. They are able to reach Golz, who says they are all screwed.
At dawn, Robert Jordan and Anselmo shoot the sentries and blow the bridge. The impact kills Anselmo.
While escaping, Robert Jordan's horse falls on his leg, breaking it. Maria is grief-stricken and he says she must leave, but she will carry him with her always. They leave, and Robert Jordan knows he must keep himself conscious so that he can kill one of the approaching enemy officers to delay them on the trail of his friends.