For Whom the Bell Tolls: Interpretive Analysis

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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Interpretive Analysis

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Table of Contents

  • For Whom The Bell Tolls Essay
  • For Whom The Bell Tolls Literary Devices
  • Conclusion

For Whom The Bell Tolls Essay

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway is a classic piece of literature, leaving out the 400 pages in between is like cutting out the substance of the novel. The characters, the plot, the climax, all the vital features that make up a novel will be undeveloped. Not to mention the reader will never experience the magic of the story like one gets to do with every well-written novel. The suspense when you know something tragic is about to happen, the warm feeling one gets when their favorite characters fall in love, the weariness when something unfortunate is about to happen, etc.. will all be missing as the true essence of reading for pleasure is dismantled. The length of this novel shows that Hemingway knew what he was talking about, he wanted to show the readers the harsh reality of the kinds of things that were occurring in the Spanish Civil War at that time, writing about how we as a human species react when faced with times of war.

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If you left out all the content, the ‘heart and soul’ of the novel, you may interpret the novel to be just a story about war, but just as in any novel, there is much more than just the beginning lets one know. While reading For Whom The Bell Tolls, one finds alternate meanings. Something the critics who disregard the 400 pages in between would find odd. But they do not realize that the novel in its entirety is the novel, everything is in those 471 pages. The beginnings of stories except for quality are in no way the basis for evaluation of an entire novel. After reading the novel, I feel among other things, For Whom The Bell Tolls is a coming of age story, but of course Robert Jordan is already of age, so in that sense an internal coming of age story. I base my opinion on the fact that we do not know much about Robert Jordan’s past so he is presented to us as a ‘young’ man, ready to perform his mission, being only focused on the war and his duty. But Robert Jordan unwillingly falls for Maria, as young boys are prone to do. “You were gone when you first saw her. When she opened her mouth and spoke to you it was there already and you know it.” He also meets many characters through the process of ‘his life’ and tackles with his mind about the many situations he must deal with. Finally, at the end, laying there on the forest floor he make his courageous and mature decision to stay behind, say goodbye to Maria, and helps give the others more time to get away, as he makes his descent into ‘adulthood.’ Which is just an example of opinion and content in the novel which would otherwise be missed and not explored.

For Whom The Bell Tolls Literary Devices

The diction, the syntax, and the vivid descriptions that lead to vivid imagery employed by Hemingway added with his skill in writing all lead to a good novel. Which may not be liked by all audiences but can still be appreciated. Reading all the content located in the novel is important if one were to create their own opinion on the work, only then will one be able to form a sensible judgment. If someone stopped reading at the mere beginning and concluded that they do not like it, then they would be being narrow-minded. One may not like the beginning but find they enjoy the rest which they will never know if they let the beginning act as a hindrance to continue reading further. Thus to form an accurate opinion on an author and their work, one must have a sound premise on which they are basing it on.

In this novel, there are many events that may seem fairly insignificant when reading them, but they impact the novel significantly. The fact that Pilar wanted Maria and Robert Jordan to be together was because she knew that since Maria had been raped she would not be able to marry in Spain and knew Robert Jordan would take her with him which would be her only hope for a better life. Another event is when Raphael left his post to pursue two hares, thinking it a good idea because they needed something to eat. This led to the Calvary man entering and ultimately to Anselmo being killed by resorting to ignite the dynamite for the mission with a grenade rather than with the detonator. These kinds of events throughout the story show the readers that events escalate, just as they do in real life.

Additionally, the length of this novel is correlated with the life of the protagonist, Robert Jordan. Midway through the novel he comes to terms with the fact that the days he has left before the bridge operation may be his final days, and he must live his whole life in that time span, “There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you life a life in two days.” Showing that for some people in the Spanish Civil War this was a reality, never being able to return home or satisfying all their hopes and dreams just as Robert Jordan could not leave Spain with Maria. The rest of Robert Jordan’s life occurs throughout the novel and without those pages in between one would essentially leave out his whole life, missing the point that is so vital in understanding the reality of the theme; that these events are significant and occur not just in stories.


In conclusion, if one were to say that For Whom The Bell Tolls is a war story that would be valid, but incomplete. For Whom the Bell Tolls is much more than that, it is a story of courage, love, triumph, betraying, consequences, and everything in between. Leaving out content from the novel is like not reading the novel at all. One does not get to experience what goes into reading a good novel, one does not understand the events in between and how they have an impact on the entire novel as a whole. Most importantly they will not have their own opinion on the novel, they will not know the entire story or be able to feel what the characters have felt.

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