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No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway, first published in 1940, set in the Spanish Civil War. It is one of his most famous and beloved works, and was inspired by his work as a journalist during that conflict.
The story, which plays out over four days and three nights, is centred around Robert Jordan - no, not that Robert Jordan - an American volunteer fighting on the side of the Republicans. His mission is to blow up a bridge in preparation for an offensive against the Nationalists, and to this purpose he enlists the help of a small band of partisans in the hills nearby. He quickly begins an affair and falls in love with a girl called Maria, who has been freed from the captivity of the Fascists a few months prior.
In the days before he carries out this task, we get to know many of the other characters that he meets. Pablo is the leader of the band, but the relationship between him and his men is strained to say the least, and his reliability is repeatedly called into question. His wife Pilar is The Heart of the group, and acknowledged as the de facto leader. An elderly man named Anselmo is Robert Jordan's guide, and while he is averse to killing people out of principle, his loyalty and local knowledge make him a valuable asset. A number of Pablo's men are also introduced and make a lasting impression.
Over the short time in the company of these people, Jordan makes his preparations for the demolition (which can only be carried out at the last minute), has some skirmishes with the Nationalist forces and gets much of his companions' backstory in the form of flashbacks. The general themes of the novel, derived both from the main storyline and the flashbacks, include the horrors of war, but also the nature of love and companionship.
Tropes exhibited in this novel include:
- Bilingual Bonus: Most of the dialogue is supposed to be in Spanish, but the Translation Convention is not entirely consistent, as some phrases are left untranslated. Especially vulgar ones.
- Blood Knight; Axe Crazy: The anarchists are portrayed this way from the perspective of the main characters.
- Bolivian Army Ending
- Changed My Mind, Kid: Pablo.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: El Sordo and his men.
- Eagle Squadron: The many foreigners who come to fight on both sides in the Civil War, Robert Jordan being one of them.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Robert Jordan plans to marry Maria after only knowing him for a few days.
- Full-Name Basis: Robert Jordan is almost always referred to by his full name by the narrator.
- Go On Without Me: Robert Jordan, after being immobilised, decides to stay and kill as many enemies as he can.
- Grey and Grey Morality: While the Republicans are generally portrayed more sympathetically, neither side is generally shown in a very positive light, especially when it comes to the leadership. Atrocities are committed by both sides. Some of the individual soldiers in the Nationalist army are shown to be just regular people rather than villainous lackeys.
- Hero of Another Story: El Sordo and his band are acknowledged to be very good partisans. This doesn't save them from the soldiers who come after them, although they do get to make a heroic last stand.
- Literary Allusion Title: The title is derived from a John Donne quote, namely the famous "no man is an island" passage in Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.
- Love At First Sight: Robert Jordan's relationship with Maria can arguably be described this way: They certainly fall in lust at a very early stage, although whether it is true love (yet) is unclear.
- Meaningful Name: El Sordo's nickname literally means "The Deaf One".
- Mistaken Nationality: Robert Jordan is usually called "Inglés" by his comrades, though he's American.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: The partisans curse like sailors, but the reader is inevitably given a sanitised version of the relevant words and phrases, like "muck", "unnameable" or "obscenity". This leads to many bizarre Unusual Euphemisms like "I obscenity in the milk". There are also some untranslated Spanish swear words left in the text.
- Snow Means Death: Specifically, the unexpected snowfall means that certain characters end up being tracked by the footprints they leave, with deadly consequences.
- Team Mom: Pilar.
- Traumatic Haircut: The fascists executed Maria's parents, raped her and shaved her head.
- War Is Hell
- We ARE Struggling Together!: The general impression one gets of the loose alliance that is the Republican side. A case of Truth in Television.