For Whom the Bell Tolls: Novel Summary: Chapter 10

SummaryIn this particularly long chapter, Jordan, Maria and Pilar continue up the mountain to meet with the other guerilla leader, El Sordo. Pilar insists on stopping to rest and plops her feet into an icy stream. She goes on at length about how ugly she is, despite both younger people telling her otherwise. Then, although Jordan is ready to leave, and although she doesnt think Maria should hear, she tells the lovers the story of the Republican uprising against the fascists in her village. Two lines of peasants wielding flays and other farm implements were formed like an aisle leading to a cliff, and the Fascists of the town, who had been until then well-to-do shopkeepers and such, were forced to run between the lines of drunken angry men and forced over the cliff. Inside the ayuntamiento, the town hall, which was held by the leader Pablo, the village priest prayed with the remaining Fascists as they awaited their turn to run the gauntlet. Finally, the mob stormed the building and killed the rest of the men, including the priest. Maria is shaken by the story and refuses to hear Pilar tell the follow-up story of when the Fascists retaliated.
Hemingway here writes of the brutal madness that overtakes man in violent situations when the strictures holding society in place are loosened. It is a vivid portrait of mob mentality. Placed on an up/down continuum, as the characters are placed on the mountain, humans can only move up or move down, or can do bad or good. The farming implements/weapons used against the Fascists symbolically weed out the Fascists and demonstrate that the peasants have taken control. Pilar is forced to look on, significantly standing precariously on a chair, as everything around her disintegrates and the people she has known all her life, who represent the government, the bankers, the priests-the mainstays of society-are murdered, maimed and burned. This chapter also posits Pablo as a brutal leader unlike the softened character we have seen in the last nine chapters. However, that night when Pilar slept with Pablo, he did not want to (or was perhaps unable to) make love, unlike bullfighters, Pilar says, who were always amorous after violence.