Notes on For Whom the Bell Tolls Themes

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For Whom the Bell Tolls Topic Tracking: Foreigners

Chapter 1

Foreigners 1: Pablo is upset that a foreigner, Robert Jordan, is putting them in danger by following his orders to blow the bridge. Robert Jordan does not feel like a foreigner because he has lived in Spain for ten years, and tells Pablo that he wishes he had been born in Spain, and that his orders are his orders.

Chapter 3

Foreigners 2: Anselmo makes several ethnic slurs against gypsies. He says that in the war they become bad as in old times, and implies that they are savages because they think that killing someone outside of the tribe is not murder.

Chapter 5

Foreigners 3: Even the gypsy, often the target of ethnic slurs, makes fun of other races and cultures. He sings a song at the campfire disparaging the Cataláns, a people in the northeast of Spain, and the Negroes.

Chapter 10

Foreigners 4: Pablo's immense pride, both for Spain and himself, combined with his disdain for foreigners, led him to believe that the priest should have died with more dignity; he should not have feared the angry mob because he was of the Spanish nationality, and Spaniards should have more dignity.

Chapter 11

Foreigners 5: When Robert Jordan hears about Joaquin's loss, he thinks about his role as a foreigner in the war. He does not often feel like a foreigner, for he has lived in Spain for ten years and speaks the language very well. He does feel like a foreigner, though, in that he was not involved with the start of the movement, and does not have the stories or experiences of losing family members, like Joaquín and Maria. He only hears of such loss secondhand.

Foreigners 6: Robert Jordan suggests that they go to Gredos instead of the Republic after they blow the bridge. This suggestion invokes the wrath of Pilar. She gets extremely defensive that a foreigner would think he knows the country better than she. She knows that as a foreigner, he has no obligation to the country and can leave whenever he wants, and that they, the poor Spaniards, will be left in the hills with the consequences.

"Then just shut up about what we are going to do afterwards, will you, Inglés? You go back to the Republic and you take your piece with you and leave us others alone here to decide what part of these hills we'll die in." Chapter 11, pg. 150

Chapter 13

Foreigners 7: Robert Jordan is conflicted by his status as a foreigner and a man under orders. He wonders whether or not he is somehow betraying the people he works with by putting them in danger. He must carry out his orders, but they live in this territory and must face the consequences.

Foreigners 8: Pilar pries into Robert Jordan and Maria's sex life, telling Maria that the earth only moves three times for a woman during her lifetime; because it moved that afternoon with Robert Jordan, it will move only twice more. Robert Jordan does not believe in any of Pilar's gypsy sayings and mocks her. He is angry that Pilar has taken his lovemaking and applied her own gypsy superstitions to it.

Chapter 15

Foreigners 9: Anselmo thinks of his own religious beliefs and his vulnerability, and wonders how Robert Jordan can be so detached and unafraid of death. He wonders if it is because he is without religion, or that he is a foreigner.

Chapter 16

Foreigners 10: At the campfire one night, Pablo is very drunk. He is ignorant about nationalities, and insists that Robert Jordan knows about Scottish customs even though Robert Jordan reminds him again and again that he is American. He insists that Robert Jordan wears a kilt skirt like the Scottish and insists on knowing what they wear underneath their skirts.

Chapter 19

Foreigners 11: There is much talk of gypsies throughout the book. When the gypsy says that gypsy women are ugly as they age, Pilar reminds him that they age quickly because their husbands are always getting them pregnant.

Chapter 22

Foreigners 12: Robert Jordan is very angry that the gypsy left his post to hunt rabbits. He does not express his rage, but thinks to himself how gypsies are worthless, physically and mentally unfit for the war.

Chapter 23

Foreigners 13: Robert Jordan often romanticizes the Spanish. He thinks of how the Spanish kill as an act of faith, and not without passion or for no reason.

Chapter 25

Foreigners 14: Pilar makes a racist comment against the gypsy, saying that he exaggerated the report of the cavalry (gypsies are prone to exaggeration). Pilar has gypsy blood.

Chapter 31

Foreigners 15: Robert Jordan thinks with wonder about Spaniards, and how the same nationality of people who took him in and treated him well at their camp could also be the nationality of people who gang-raped the woman he loves. He looks from a foreigner's view at Spanish history, through the lines of warriors and conquistadors who performed many violent acts and were, and still are, glorified: "There is no finer and no worse people in the world. No kinder people and no crueler." Chapter 31, pg. 355

Chapter 35

Foreigners 16: Robert Jordan is so angry about having to leave Maria, that his rage exaggerates itself and extends to the entirety of the Spanish people, who he pities for having leaders that always screw them. Eventually, he realizes the craziness of such an all-encompassing anger. "His rage began to thin as he exaggerated more and more and spread his scorn and contempt so widely and unjustly that he could no longer believe in it himself." Chapter 35, pg. 370

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