For Whom the Bell Tolls Review

No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thine own Or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee. -John Donne


Clayton Keeling

Hemingway was an ambulance driver in WWI and stayed in Spain during the civil war, acquiring much of the experience he used to write For Whom the Bell Tolls.

By Clayton Keeling, Copy Editor

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway after he went to Spain in 1937 to cover the civil war for the North American Newspaper Alliance. After the war, he returned and produced For Whom the Bell Tolls, one of the greatest pieces of literature to emerge from the time.

At heart, it is the story of Robert Jordan, an American working with a guerrilla band fighting for the republic in the mountains behind enemy lines. Jordan’s mission is simple: when the republic attack begins, blow up a specific bridge so the fascists can’t reinforce their troops.

The mission becomes increasingly problematic and tensions rise and fall within the the three days the story in the takes place. One complication is Maria, a girl that Jordan comes to fancy. They quickly fall in love, but the question arises of what to do with her after the bridge, and if he can even ensure her survival.

Hemingway masterfully tells the past of Pilar and Pablo, the wife and husband who lead the guerrilla band Jordan joins, and how they liberated their town of fascists in a now regretful manner. He tells the fall of Sordo, a leader of the best guerrilla band in the mountains, the love of Jordan and Maria, and the cynical perspective of those who’ve been in war too long in an honest and introspective manner.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century. Though written almost 80 years ago, it still brings forth an important message and discusses crucial themes that are easy to miss in normal society. Hemingway wasn’t afraid to write honestly of the struggles and questions of the minds of man. He faced it head on and told a fantastic story.

It’s worth reading.