Extract from Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls

The young man, whose name was Robert Jordan, was extremely hungry and he was worried. He was often hungry but he was not usually worried because he did not give any importance to what happened to himself and he knew from experience how simple it was to move behind the enemy lines in all this country. It was as simple to move behind them as it was to cross through them, if you had a good guide. It was only giving importance to what happened to you if you were caught that made it difficult; that and deciding whom to trust. You had to trust the people you worked with completely or not at all, and you had to make decisions about the trusting. He was not worried about any of that. But there were other things.

This Anselmo had been a good guide and he could travel wonderfully in the mountains. Robert Jordan could walk well enough himself and he knew from following him since before daylight that the old man could walk him to death. Robert Jordan trusted the man, Anselmo, so far, in everything except judgment. He had not yet had an opportunity to test his judgment, and, anyway, the judgment was his own responsibility. No, he did not worry about Anselmo and the problem of the bridge was no more difficult than many other problems. He knew how to blow any sort of bridge that you could name and he had blown them of all sizes and constructions. There was enough explosive and all equipment in the two packs to blow this bridge properly even if it were twice as big as Anselmo re¬ported it, as he remembered it when he had walked over it on his way to La Granja on a walking trip in 1933, and as Golz had read him the description of it night before last in that upstairs room in the house outside of the Escorial.

‘To blow the bridge is nothing,’ Golz had said, the lamplight on his scarred, shaved head, point¬ing with a pencil on the big map. ‘You understand?’

‘Yes, I understand.’

‘Absolutely nothing. Merely to blow the bridge is a failure.’

‘Yes, Comrade General.’

‘To blow the bridge at a stated hour based on the time set for the attack is how it should be done. You see that naturally. That is your right and how it should be done.’

Golz looked at the pencil, then tapped his teeth with it.

Robert Jordan had said nothing.

‘You understand that is your right and how it should be done,’ Golz went on, looking at him and nodding his head. He tapped on the map now with the pencil. ‘That is how I should do it. That is what we cannot have.’


This text is linked to:
Lecture Notes no. 19
Lecture Notes no. 20