For Whom the Bell Tolls: Novel Summary: Chapter 14

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Summary

The snow begins to fall after they return to camp. Delighted about the snow, a drunken Pablo greets them, announcing that because of the snow the Republican offensive will have to be called off. Jordan becomes angry with Pablo but hides it from Maria. He curses the snowstorm and strikes up a conversation with Pablo to pass the time. He asks him how he came to be involved with the movement. He used to train horses for bullfighters at Zaragoza, he tells Jordan, and in this capacity met Pilar when she was with the not-so-good matador Finito de Palencia. Pilar continues the story, which is really hers. For five years she traveled as Finito's woman before she came to be with Pablo. Finito was a short man terrified of bulls: he was afraid all the time, but in the ring "he was like a lion" (185). He died from tuberculosis. Then Pilar reflects upon the idea that neither bull force nor bull courage lasts. "I have lasted. But for what?" (190). Rafael the gypsy reports that there are six-hour watches of two men on the bridge. Jordan and Fernando go to relieve Anselmo who is keeping count on the road.
Analysis
Nature intrudes despite the best laid plans of man. It is snow that keeps Jordan and the guerilla band from carrying out the mission of blowing up the bridge. To do so in snow would mean leaving tracks. Jordan finds himself then in a situation where he cannot count on the people-Pablo is untrustworthy, and Pilar is wavering, as evidenced by her statement about surviving "But for what?" and he doesn't know about the others.
The chaos of the snowstorm represents war. Indeed, Jordan reflects: "It was like the excitement of battle except that it was clean." He feels excited by the storm, energized. But, like a battle, he has no control over it. He decides to relax and live in the moment, so to speak, but we can consider that Jordan, like Pablo and Pilar, is wavering in his blind devotion to the Cause.

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