For Whom the Bell Tolls Essay

For Whom the Bell Tolls

            The novel follows the traditional narrative of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution with the use of flashbacks and foreshadowing. Internal monologue was also evident in the story however there is a constant shift in the narrators.

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The exposition of the novel starts in the first three chapters with the introduction of the protagonist named Robert Jordan, an American demolition expert who sided with the Loyalist during the Spanish Civil war. His mission was to blow up a bridge for them to destabilize the enemies.  This is where conflict starts as he falls in love with Maria and he intends to blow a bridge with minimal resources. He is also faced with inner turmoil as he begins to loose hope. He has his issues with trust to his comrades which finds its roots in a conversation he had with a general. This is where he uses flashbacks to further support his doubts. The exposition of his characters is not done in a descriptive type but rather revealing bits and pieces of their characters through conversations.  Foreshadowing was also used when Pilar reads the palm of Jordan and she concludes a bleak future for the man though she didn’t say it, based upon the description of the author we can see that she is worried.  The narrator of the novel also shifts from the main character to the narrator of the story with the use of internal monologue. Sometimes Jordan himself talks about events and in other instances the book is talking about him (Hemingway, 1940).

            Chapters 4-9 is where rising action happened when Jordan falls in love with Maria and some of his explosives where stolen by the enemies therefore endangering his mission.  The leader of a group that Jordan is asking for support named Pablo is also loosing hope in the mission. Pablo is a borne coward and in the later part of the novel begins to doubt the success of the mission.  Loosing hope, Jordan then sends a dispatch to the general calling for the cancellation of the Republican Offensive

In Chapter 10-13, the complexities and the danger of the task was further revealed. The climax of the story happened in chapter 14-42 when Pablo returned bringing with him some explosives which made it possible for Jordan to blow up the bridge.  In blowing the bridge he has to sacrifice his own life. He has done his mission in blowing up the bridge but he was deeply wounded in the process making him unable to go with Pablo for the escape. Being the protagonist of the story he chose to remain and asked for a gun so that he can shoot at the enemies. By his bravery he was able to give ample time for Pablo and Maria to escape.

This is where the falling action starts. Jordan was left behind the tree holding a gun hoping for the escape of Maria. He was hanging for his dear life knowing the death will come any minute but he was contented as his mission was a success.  Pablo led Maria and the rest to the mountains where they sought safety.

All in all, the novel follows the chronological order except for the flashbacks wherein the characters narrate their own recollections. Despite these flashbacks the story is easy to follow since there is a sense of unity and connection in its characters that further binds the whole event. Rather than focusing on a certain event, the war for that matter, the author focuses on individual experiences and struggles. This further distinguishes his works from the rest of the authors whose novels revolves around the same theme.


Hemingway, E. (1940). For Whom the Bell Tolls. USA.