For Whom The Bell Tolls

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Ernest Hemingway with his lover in the mountains of Spain. The anonymous man on the right was the inspiration for the characters Pablo and Anselmo.

“I obscenity in the milk of thy...”
~ characters from For Whom the Bell Tolls on other people's stuff
“Thy mother!”
~ characters from For Whom the Bell Tolls on your mom
“I wrote it when I was drunk.”
~ Ernest Hemingway on all of his novels
“This gives me an idea...”
~ James Hetfield on For Whom The Bell Tolls
“It sounded good to me. Violence, sex, booze, it had everything! But then I started reading it.”
~ Oscar Wilde on For Whom the Bell Tolls
“In Soviet Russia, the bell tolls for YOU!!!”
~ General Golz on For Whom the Bell Tolls
“Hemmingway's novel was a brigde too far.”
~ General Bernhard Montgomery on For Whom the Bell Tolls
“DING”
~ a bell on For Whom the Bell Tolls
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For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about For Whom The Bell Tolls.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway about the Spanish Uncivil War. The novel chronicles the life of an American bell maker who joined the Russian Army in order to fight against the Spanish fascists. However, some question whether or not this was the source of the title. The title page of the book contains a line of John Donne's poem The Island of Man: "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, just answer the dam' door."

For Whom the Bell Tolls is heralded as one of Hemingway's greatest works and an American classic. It is praised for its excruciatingly long exposition, rambling prose, and blatant disregard for use of modern English.

Original Story

After reporting for a newspaper on the Spanish Uncivil War, Hemingway decided to write a book about it. As with most of his books, his original idea was to write an erotic war/pornographic novel. He felt that the sheer violence of the war would not be enough to satisfy the American reader. The original manuscript of For Whom the Bell Tolls contained lesbian sex scenes and multiple three ways. However, as usual the publishing company did not like this idea and Hemingway was forced to write a war novel with only a few non-graphic sex scenes.

Plot Summary

The main character, Robert Jordan, is chosen to aid a guerrilla band in an attack on the Spanish city of Segovia. His job is to blow up a bridge to prevent the fascist troops from advancing.

Exposition

The exposition describes the week Jordan spent with a Spanish guerrilla band in the mountains near Segovia. during that time he gets his hand read by a Gypsy, hears accounts of the war, drinks heavily, and bangs a young Spanish girl whom the band freed from a fascist prison.

As a reward for people who read to the halfway point of the exposition. Hemingway added a scene where a guerrilla member recounts a tale of bludgeoning fascist civilians to death and then tossing their bodies off a cliff. In the original version this part was where most of the sex occurred.

Battles

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For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about For Whom The Bell Tolls.

The plot thickens when Jordan wakes up one morning to the sound of hooves and kills a passing fascist soldier. After that the fascist begin to advance and search for guerrilla bands in the area. One major battle occurred between the fascists and another guerrilla band closely allied to Jordan's. The soldiers retreat to a hill and hold their positions until a helicopter comes and kills them all. This battle was the inspiration for the Metallica song by the same name as the novel.

Finally the day comes for Jordan's mission one cowardly member of the band leaves to deliver a message to a Republican general and misses the battle. Many guerrillas are lost in the fighting, but Jordan successfully blows the bridge. As the band rides of into the mountains, Jordan's horse is shot out from under him causing him to fall and break his leg. Jordan insists the rest of the band go on without him and he commits suicide (like Hemingway) to prevent capture.

Characters

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  • Robert Jordan – American bell maker sent to blow the bridge to Segovia. He seduces many women in the original version, but only María in the printed book. He dies.
  • Anselmo – elderly guide to Robert Jordan who got plenty of ass in the original manuscript. He dies too.
  • Pablo – Guerrilla leader and pimp in the original. An implied sexual relationship between the group's horses and Pablo is a reoccuring theme of the novel.
  • María – Robert Jordan's bottom bitch
  • Pilar – Pablo's wife and temporary leader of Pablo's band. A bisexual in Hemingway's original story. Would often engage in group sex with Maria and Robert Jordan or Pablo.
  • Agustín – arrogant, aggressive member of Pablo's band. Never gets any in either edition of the book.
  • El Sordo – deaf leader of a nearby band of guerrillas. A pimp in both versions of the book though it is seldom mentioned in the second.
  • General Golz - Basically the Russian version of El Sordo, except Robert Jordan is his bitch.
  • Andrés – cowardly member of Pablo's band, the one who left before the battle.
  • Absinthe and whiskey - constantly consumed by Robert Jordan, more relevant to the story than any human character below.
  • Joaquin – the gay kid
  • Fernando – perverted, middle-aged member of Pablo's band. He dies.
  • Eladio – member of Pablo's band, brother of Andrés. Was a female prostitute in the original manuscript but edits caused him to serve no purpose in the printed copy.
  • Rafael – a dirty Gypsy.
  • Primitivo – irrelevant to the story.

See also

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