For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

Book 33

Reading this novel was like eating vegetables.  I knew it was good for me, but…

An American teacher is a “dynamiter” in the Spanish Civil War.  His assignment is to blow a bridge and he is sent to a band of guerillas that are to help him.  Of course, they each have their stories and they are all war-weary at the very beginning.   So the tension builds to the inevitable bombing, with the question who lives and who dies all along the way.

Hemingway has his sweeping themes of death and loyalty and suffering and hopelessness.  He does a fine job of explaining just why in hell the American is fighting with the Spanish Communists.  (It was really more fighting against fascists.)

No big surprise, but I found the love story tiresome.  It stands to illustrate the “live for the moment” aspect of war time.  For a band of guerillas, anyway.  I also found the bullfighting stories tiresome.  Shocker.

By the end, I was mostly interested in the plot points.  Is the mission a success, and who survives.  I don’t think that would bother the Old Man too much.


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