For Whom the Bell Tolls Summary
For Whom the Bells Toll expresses the importance of individuals of all ages. It is not merely about youth in Paris getting drunk. It is not about a young soldier falling in love with his nurse. It is not yet the older Hemingway who would write about Santiago. It is a man writing in the middle of his career and able to appreciate the value of individuality and human life. Pilar literally represents the strength or pillar of the group. Anselmo brings the wisdom of age to the novel. The novel also shares the insights into individuals’ souls. It is not the trivial life of Jake and Brett who think about a “pretty” life together. The characters share deeper insights: “Do you know how an ugly woman feels? Do you know what it is to be ugly all your life and inside to feel that you are beautiful? It is very rare.” Hemingway even allows incidental characters to matter as individuals.
For Whom the Bells Tolls, reflects a change in the normal Hemingway style. Its protagonist, Robert Jordan, does not represent the normal Hemingway ideal of manhood. However, perhaps this was Hemingway’s attempt to come to terms with a lifetime of death and disillusionment as he approached middle age. The youthful bonding of his twenties was long past and he chose to focus more on the individualized experience. The novel also represented a conscious decision on the part of Hemingway to change writing styles in an effort to gain financial freedom from his second wife. The realism of financial need also was more likely to occur to a writer approaching forty than to one in his twenties. This was the work of a more mature Hemingway.
Diction also places a context on the quality of nature, one of the important characters in Hemingway’s work. For Hemingway, quite often synthesis with nature denotes an overall acceptance of the nature of one’s existence. In the end of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan is described as feeling “integrated”, and as affirmation of this he touches the earth around him. The communion with nature reflects the thematic point, which is that Jordan has finally found his purpose, bringing him peace even though he will soon die.
The way that Hemingway creates a stylistic perspective that informs the reader of a deeper meaning. The strains of modernism pulse through the white space that Hemingway leaves the reader; what is suggested but unsaid in Hemingway’s prose suggests the individual’s path to understanding is as expansive as many of the physical settings of his stories and novels. By allowing us to draw inference through what he does not say, Hemingway shows the reader the state of disjointedness in which the modern man finds himself.