Essay on Themes and Characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls

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Themes and Characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway, is a contemporary novel about the realities of war. The novel is wrought with themes of life and stark direct writing. The characterization in the story is what comprises the intricacy of the underlying themes within the tale. The story itself is not complex, but the relationships of the characters with the environment and with each other coupled with Hemingway's command of description and understanding make the novel as a whole, increasingly developed. The emotions of the story are not found in the dry narrative but rather from the character's themselves.

          The main character,
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In nearly every occasion she commands the utmost respect from the various members of the group. Pablo, in contrast, once a brave leader and a proud man, is now a dangerous and unreliable coward. In his prime, Pablo led a group of enraged villagers to avenge the injustices that the Fascists committed, killing multiple Fascist soldiers and twenty known fascists. However, in the present he illustrates his cowardice by stealing and discarding Robert's blasting caps. He does this because he fears what the Fascists may do to his home and himself, if Robert destroys the bridge.

          An important theme in the very beginning of the novel is that of superstition. Robert Jordan is afraid when he forgets Anselmo's name, as he considers it a "bad sign." There is much foreboding as Robert worries for an unknown cause and finds himself slipping into gloominess, which is unlike his nature. Along these same lines, another important theme is the ironic and skeptical view of life, which is revealed by the cynicism of Robert's comrades-in-arms. For example, in the scene in which Robert and Golz discuss the proposed attack, the Russian general speaks mistrustfully of the Spanish because he knows they will interfere in the offensive, which he would like to use as a military maneuvering practice.

This cynicism is matched by Pablo, the Spanish guerilla leader who mistrusts
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