For Whom the Bell Tolls: Novel Summary: Chapter 43

SummaryAs it becomes daylight, Jordan lies beneath a tree immediately before the attack on the bridge. Jordan kills one of the sentries and Anselmo kills the other. Jordan climbs unto the bridge as Anselmo hands him the explosives. Then Anselmo leaves, taking the wire, while Jordan returns to the bridge to complete the work. As a vehicle approaches, Jordan yells to Anselmo to blow up the bridge. Soon after he finds he is still alive and that half the bridge is gone. Sadly, Anselmo dies from shrapnel. Fernando is also shot as are all of Pablos new men. Pablo says that now there will be enough horses to escape. Although it is never stated unequivocally, we can be sure Pablo killed the men. Pilar shouts up to Maria that Roberto is all right and soon the ecstatic lovers are reunited and they ride away with hope for a future. However, a shell from a tank causes his horse to fall on him and Jordan breaks his leg severely. All the others, except Maria, realize they must leave him. He convinces her to leave by telling her that he is now her and in her he will continue to live: “Thou art all there will be of me” (463). Finally, Pilar, Pablo, Rafael, Francisco and Maria ride away with Francisco, who has been in love with Maria, promising Jordan to take care of her.
Jordan knows it will only be a matter of time before he will die. He looks back on his life and feels positive that he has done some good and that he has overall been lucky. Although he experiences no pain at first, swelling sets in and soon he is in deep distress. He keeps wishing for the cavalry to come so they will kill him. He has the machine gun but resists killing himself because he doesnt want to commit suicide like his father. Finally, just as he is about to kill himself so he doesnt pass out and face capture, he hears the soldiers, led by Lieutenant Berrendo, approaching through the timber. Jordan will die fighting.
No doubt readers, considering the premonitions strewn throughout the novel, expect Jordan to die. Indeed, for him not to die would be disquieting. However, we anticipate that Jordan will die dynamiting the bridge or perhaps that Pablo will take revenge and shoot him at the end of the mission. However, Hemingway surprises us with the highly ironic manner in which Jordan dies. He escapes death for a very short while only to have the omen of living life for three days fulfilled. Just when he appears safe, he suddenly dies.
As the lovers part company forever, the theme of a couple as two entities united in one is repeated. “In the last few days he had learned that he himself, with another person, could be everything that cannot be taken nor lost” (467). He thinks back to the Pilars prophesies and comes to realize “theres no one thing thats true, its all true” (467). Finally, in a circular fashion, the narrative returns to the beginning of the novel to an earlier scene in which Robert Jordan lies on “a pine needle floor of the forest” (1; 471).