For Whom the Bell Tolls

I recently finished Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 book, For Whom the Bell Tolls. I really enjoyed the book. It is about an American dynamiter named Robert Jordan who has become involved in the Spanish Civil War. This novel follows his mission of destroying a bridge with a group of guerrila fighters who are sympathetic to the republican forces. Here is a link to a more detailed synopsis.

I thought I would share a couple of quotes I enjoyed.

From page 335 on leadership and being a leader even when you are frightened,

The orders on this are very clear. Too very clear. But you must not worry nor must you be frightened. For if you allow yourself the luxery of normal fear that fear will infect those who must work with you.

A calm, collected leader in times of fear can be a rallying point to help accomplish a difficult task.

From page 386 on controlling your emotions,

Wait until the fight before you get angry. There’s lots of time for it in a fight. It will be some use to you in a fight.

There’s no need in spending time and energy getting worked up on what ifs. Use that emotion and energy when you are in the situation, not dreaming up what could happen.

This final quote (emphasis is mine) from 236 sums up why Robert Jordan, an American, was fighting in the Spanish Civil War. I also think it also shows how powerful ideas and beliefs are. Many individuals are willing to sacrifice and even die for their ideas and beliefs, and I believe Hemingway captured this thought well in this quote.

In all that, in the fear that dries your mouth and your throat, in the smashed paster dust and the sudden panic of a wall falling, collapsing in the flash and roar of a shellburst, clearing the gun, dragging those away who had been serving it, lying face downward and covered with rubble, your head behind the shield working on a stoppage, getting the broken case out, straightening the belt again, you now lying straight behind the shield, the gun searching the roadside again; you did the right thing there was to do and knew that you were right. You learned the dry-mouthed, fear-purged, purging ecstasy of battle and you fought that summer and that fall for all the poor in the world, against all tyranny, for all the things that you believed and for the new world you had been educated into. You learned that fall, he thought, how to endure and how to ignore suffering in the long time of cold and wetness, of mud and of digging and fortifying. And the feeling of the summer and the fall was buried deep under tiredness, sleepiness, and nervousness and discomfort. But it was still there and all that you went through only served to validate it. It was in those days, he thought, that you had a deep and sound and selfless pride


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