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Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls


I did not like it.

The characters annoyed me, especially female characters and the sexist way they are portrayed in, particularly Maria whose sole purpose seems to be to entertain and relieve the main character of stress. I mean, a traumatized and abused catholic girl from rural Spain jumps in the bed of a stranger and an outsider almost at the moment that she sees him?! Maybe it’s just because he’s so special? And all the effort that she makes to “stay out of the way” and “be of any service” to her man completely negating herself along the way. This character is more of a Hemingway’s fantasy then someone believable and its also wrong on so many levels.

I did not like the mighty-whitey trope, where an Anglo-Saxon outsider better understands and feels more commitment to the “cause” then the natives, and also feels a mixture of contempt and admiration to these same natives (there is something wrong with the tone, almost reducing portrayal of Spanish to “noble savages”).

I don’t understand Jordan and his devotion to his mission. He ponders again and again over its futility, and yet he is ready to ruthlessly sacrifice all people around him, the same people whose life his fight is supposed to better. He is reduced to a tool, a bomb set to destroy a bridge, and bomb does not know or care if it will blow up some innocent people along the way.

I absolutely don’t like the dialogues in “Spanish”. Ok, I get it, they speak Spanish, was it really necessary to render all the dialogues in broken English produced by literally translating Spanish?!

It seems that Hemingway either had some bad experience or some conflicts with anarchists, otherwise he would not portray with so much malice all anarchist characters as caricatures. Hemingway’s portrayal of anarchists and their role in the Spanish civil war stands in stark contrast to that of another first hand witness - George Orwell (in Homage to Catalonia)

I did “like” the lynching scene, if I may say so, the portrayal of mentality of the masses and the evils they are capable of when they are grouped.

All in all, being a classic and set in the context that I am very much interested in, it was a disappointment…


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