For Whom the Bell Tolls: Novel Summary: Chapter 8

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Summary

Maria is gone in the morning when Jordan wakens. He attempts to go back to sleep but enemy planes passing above him jolt him wide awake. The worried guerilla group stands looking up in fear before the cave. Never have they seen so many planes before and they know something is going on. Jordan speculates that perhaps troops are being transported in because information about the attack has leaked out, which shouldn't be too surprising considering this is what happened with the other attacks before.
As they eat, Jordan tells Anselmo to go to the road and record any vehicles he sees while he is at El Sordo's camp. Anselmo admits he cannot write, and Jordan demonstrates to him a form of drawing and counting so he can carry out the task. Next, he tells Rafael to accompany Anselmo so he can lead Jordan later on. Another member of the group, Fernando, tells of an upcoming loyalist attack, but the group makes fun of him for spreading rumors. However, if he is correct, it lends credence to the fact that the fascists have information about the offensive. Jordan is angry and the tone of the conversation changes in response to Fernando's complaint that he failed to enjoy the city of Valencia. Pilar expounds at length about the glories of Valencia, where she spent the best time of her life, eating, drinking and making love to the bullfighter Finito. Pablo pipes up that he and Pilar also enjoyed times together and she agrees but wistfully comments that, although Pablo was more man than Finito in his day, they never made it to Valencia. She is shaken out of her reverie by "the first sound of the planes returning" (86).
Analysis
The presence of the enemy aircraft overhead helps put in perspective the odds the guerillas face. They have horses and dynamite but the fascists have world-class aircraft. They fly like the owl, intent on hunting, without any sympathy or care about the bold stand the terrorized Republicans take. Jordan, also, must become shakier about his intentions to carry out his mission if he realizes his chances for success have been sharply curtailed. This pall on their positive feelings no doubt prompt Pilar's story of the days of her wild youth before the war, which she spent drinking copious bottles of wine, eating good food, and making love all afternoon with her bullfighter Finito in Valencia as the band played on outside the balcony window. Now, Pilar finds herself forced to live hiding out in a cave barely subsisting on rabbits.

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