Hemingway's Hidden Agenda in For Whom the Bell Tolls
Faculty of Humanities, Comparative Cultures Department
Daniel C. Strack
(c)2000 Daniel C. Strack (First Published in Kitakyushu University Faculty of Humanities Journal, Vol. 59, January, 2000, pp.97-127.)
The straightforward prose of Ernest Hemingway is enigmatic in that, despite its repetitious vocabulary and abrupt sentences, it resonates deeply in the minds of many who encounter it. Even though evidence for subtlety of expression is rarely evident in Hemingway's fiction upon first reading and often defies even careful analysis, few authors have succeeded in creating works in which the total psychological impact so exceeds the sum of the individual words. The perceived weaknesses of Hemingway's spartan style actually conceal a sophisticated literary taste and carefully formulated writing strategy. For this very reason, any "message" to be found among Hemingway's clipped sentences will not often be construed as heavy-handed. Therein lies Hemingway's narrative power. Rather than relying on flowery prose to explicitly dictate interpretive content in Shakespearean fashion, Hemingway relies on metaphor deeply embedded into the plot itself to elicit the appropriate nuances and bring unity to stories that otherwise display little evidence of authorial manipulation.
An Overview of the Plot
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a story set in the Spanish Civil War and elucidates various aspects of the conflict between Fascist and Republican forces in the late 1930's. The main characters are an American former professor of Spanish named Robert Jordan, now an explosives expert on the side of the Republicans, and the ragtag Spanish guerilla outfit which has been requested to assist him in the bombing of a certain bridge in enemy territory. The story begins as Jordan meets his ill-starred accomplices and must quickly determine which of them are trustworthy and which are not. Among these, he quickly alienates the group's apparent leader, Pablo, forms an alliance with the actual leader, Pilar, Pablo's wife, and falls quickly in love with Maria, a refugee that has lived with the group since she was rescued in a previous bombing of an enemy train. The attempt to destroy the bridge is portrayed to be as dangerous and over-
ambitious as it is exceedingly vital to the Republican army's overall strategy. This danger serves as the crucible which brings motivational differences of each character to the surface. In the end, Robert Jordan is among the bitter casualties of the successful sabotage attempt. Despite this costly success, the larger battle is lost.
Rationale for Using the Bridge as a Focal Point of Interpretation
In previous examinations of the metaphorical bridge and its uses in the literary context I have asserted that when the bridge is used as a central governing metaphor in a narrative, its specific metaphorical interpretations are usually found among a small group of universal or extremely recurrent potential metaphorical mappings.(1) These potential metaphors are non-language specific, due to the fact that most of them are grounded not in specific cultural traditions but in the very nature of human cognition and perception.(2) This examination of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls is an attempt to express the interpretive precision of insight gained when looking through the prism of the metaphorical bridge in a specific context. Simultaneously, it is one more small step in an ongoing comparative study of metaphorical bridges in the literature of multiple cultural paradigms.
I have also asserted in a previous paper that the very nature of the bridge itself makes the case unlikely that a physical 'bridge' will be arbitrarily dropped in among the various props used in a work of fiction.(3) The bridge is uncommon enough and presents such a strong conceptual image that an author will be unlikely to use it indiscriminately for fear of adding unnecessary conceptual baggage that might interfere with the plot. This archetypal quality separates the bridge from many other physical objects which define their identity in our consciousness more through interposed cultural prompts than raw perception. George Lakoff and Mark Turner have noted that a metaphor's relative psychological force depends greatly on its "grounding":
Thus, basic metaphors vary in the degree to which they have a grounding in experience or cohere with commonplace knowledge. To the extent that a basic metaphor used in poetry is experientially grounded, it draws power from the fundamental nature of those experiences.(4)
This observation notwithstanding, it must be said that simply because an actual, physical bridge appears in a narrative there is no reason to conclude that its appearance is of any consequence.
Furthermore, while a bridge may seem to communicate metaphorical content in a specific instance, one may not arbitrarily assume it to be a crucial part of an author's literary agenda for a given work. This being the case, I would like to propose three straightforward criteria which may be helpful in determining whether bridge-related metaphors are central enough to a given work of fiction to merit closer examination. First of all, is the word "bridge" or are concepts that invoke the idea of a bridge present in the title of the work? Second, are non-metaphorical, physically existing bridges present in the text to an extent that they might be considered recurrent? Thirdly, do actual bridges play any role at pivotal junctures in the plot or times of transition in character development?
In regard to For Whom the Bell Tolls, all of the previous criteria are met. As for the first criterion, Hemingway himself has mentioned that the titles of his works of fiction are chosen carefully to reflect the content. During an interview, when the author was asked whether each title came to him during the writing process, Hemingway replied:
"No, I make a list of titles after I've finished the story or the book -- sometimes as many as 100. Then I start eliminating them, sometimes all of them."(5)
The title For Whom the Bell Tolls alludes to Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, and specifically to a meditation on a funeral bell written by John Donne in 1624. Part of this reflection is quoted as a preface to the work. It begins "No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent,a part of the maine…" and goes on to observe that "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."(6) From the title and preface, Hemingway has implied that a central theme of the work is the interconnectedness of humanity, and especially in the sense that the death of an individual can elicit an inordinately powerful response from those who are aware of it. In death, an apparent lack of substantial connection between living individuals is shown to be more tangible than we might have imagined. This conceptual tension between the polar opposites of "connection" and "disconnection" sets the stage upon which the metaphorical bridge will play a crucial role.
The second criterion, namely the extent to which non-metaphorical bridges are utilized in the text, is also verified in respect to For Whom the Bell Tolls. In the Scribner Paperback Fiction Edition (1995) of the book, non-metaphorical bridges are mentioned 287 times in the
novel's 471 pages, and this despite numerous lengthy reminiscences and flashback scenes which mention no bridge and effect the plot only indirectly. With only a handful of exceptions, when a bridge is mentioned it is referring to the one specific bridge that Robert Jordan has been sent to destroy. Furthermore, not once is the word bridge used metaphorically as a flowery verbal allusion to human relationship; bridges are always mentioned as practically functioning physical objects.
The third criterion, specifically the perceived placement of bridges at critical junctures within the narrative, is also met. The events from page 1 to page 434 (accounting for 92.1% of the book) mostly reflect character development, flashback, setting the scene and describing successes and setbacks in the plans made by the conspirators to dynamite the bridge. The time in which the bridge destruction is actually accomplished falls between pages 435-445 (2.3%) and the aftermath of the sabotage is described in the remainder of the work (pp. 446-471, 5.5%). Although the pivotal scene at issue comes late in the story, Carlos Baker, among other critics, sees the bridge as central in the plot. He characterizes the story's construction in terms of concentric circles and mentions "Wherever the reader moves along the circumferences of the various circles, all radial roads lead to and from this bridge."(7) In this way, the destruction of the bridge may be deemed the most crucial scene in the plot, and the turning point at which the fates of individual protagonists are largely decided.
Seeing that the three criteria have been met, there is little doubt that the bridge's metaphorical role in For Whom the Bell Tolls may be deemed worthy of further examination. Furthermore, the preceding analysis, coupled with Hemingway's own testimony as to the emphasis he placed on each work's particular title provides a wealth of evidence pointing to the intentionality of the author's use of bridges in the text, and in so doing sets the bridge apart as a likely candidate for the work's central and governing metaphor, should such a metaphor exist.
On Metaphor Theory and its Implications for the Literary Bridge
The recognition and interpretation of metaphors is a subtle endeavor and it would be ill-advised to attempt an investigation of literary metaphor without some precursory mention of the theoretical framework on which it is based. The theoretical background for the following discussion includes the groundbreaking work in Cognitive Science and the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor by Lakoff, Turner, and Mark Johnson, among others. (8) Briefly, the author of this paper subscribes to what is called the Grounding Hypothesis theory of meaning and will attempt
to extrapolate from an existing body of empirical analysis concerning metaphor already confirmed by the above scholars.
It has been observed that metaphors are not in any way limited to the literary mind and are actually fundamental to general human thought processes. Many literary metaphors owe their existence to the most basic ways in which humans conceive of the world apprehended by sense perception. The human brain develops its subtle view of reality by cross-referencing largely unrelated ideas and noting significant similarities and differences. This process has been called Conceptual Integration or Conceptual Blending.(9) Utilizing this process, metaphor carries structure from one conceptual domain (the source domain) to another (the target domain).
One very prevalent metaphorical conception found often in literature is the LIFE IS A JOURNEY metaphor.(10) In this metaphor, the source domain is the journey, which has recognizable components, including a traveler, a path, an origin, a destination, a duration, and so on. This source domain is projected (mapped) onto the target domain of "life." By way of this projection, we may analyze "life" in terms of a journey. The individual may be the traveler, the events of one's life form the path, birth may be seen as the origin and death as the destination, and the years of one's life as the duration of the journey. The poet will often venture beyond such generic conceptual mapping to extrapolate on previously evoked metaphors, synthesize seemingly unrelated metaphorical paradigms or even create new and unique paradigms which are peculiar to the text itself. Fortunately, the reader rarely struggles to understand this sort of conceptual integration. Our minds have a conditioned sensitivity by which we arrive at metaphorical understanding, and although we are largely unaware of this process, an intuitive understanding of metaphor grounds many of our most basic beliefs about the everyday world around us.
Specific Aspects of the Metaphorical Bridge Paradigm
A physical "bridge" is an object which humans can understand and utilize intuitively. As such, its conceptualization is grounded in the senses without specific reference to the words we use in various human languages to describe it. For this reason, as long as humans continue to face impediments such as rivers or canyons which need to be crossed over, human languages are bound to include some word which fits the concept we identify in English as a "bridge." Consequently, one discovers a basic metaphor that matches our "paraverbal" conception of the physical bridge, which functions as an entity that allows for getting over an obstacle of some
kind. In previous examinations of bridges in multiple cultural paradigms, many literary bridges which appear to serve this metaphorical end have been evident. This metaphor would seem to be a corollary of the already established metaphor, DIFFICULTIES IN LIFE ARE IMPEDIMENTS TO TRAVEL.(11) For the purposes of this paper it will be necessary to reiterate findings from previous papers in the terminology of the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor. This most basic aspect of bridge metaphor may be stated in the following terms.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 1:
OVERCOMING A DIFFICULTY IN LIFE IS CROSSING A BRIDGE (12)
It must be noted that this aspect of the bridge metaphor paradigm is so basic as to be trite. Perhaps due to its relative lack of sophistication, this particular metaphorical mapping is most prevalent in children's books and stories with children as protagonists.(13)
Another basic metaphor in the paradigm of bridges occurs when there is a perceived psychological distance between two entities which is "bridged" through some sort of effort. This aspect may be stated in the following terms.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 2:
DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP IS BUILDING A BRIDGE (14)
This particular metaphor is extremely recurrent in literature dealing with romantic longing and also has been popularized in the political context in terms of the relationship between nations or ethnic groups separated by cultural or ideological distance. A very typical example of the political metaphor can be seen in the newspaper headline "Lengthy rebuilding of bridge seen as metaphor for Bosnia as a whole."(15) Another may be found in the Rev. Jesse Jackson's use of "Building Bridges" as a catchphrase to express work toward racial reconciliation and social progress.(16)
As a corollary to Aspect 2, it is necessary to mention Aspect 3 in which both halves of the semantic projection are inverted, resulting in an equally intuitive formal opposite to the previous observation.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 3:
DAMAGING A RELATIONSHIP IS DESTROYING A BRIDGE (17)
These three aspects are the most basic metaphors which stem from the bridge paradigm and as such are extremely recurrent across cultural settings to the point where a preliminary judgement may be made for their universality. It should be noted that this "universality" would not be of the prescriptive variety, in the sense of saying that "a bridge must be used in
this way…" The claim for universality is only an objective assessment that based on empirical evidence of extreme recurrence and the fact that these metaphors emanate from the very physical nature of the bridge itself, for logical reasons it would be extremely difficult to imagine a cultural paradigm which did not include these metaphorical aspects to some extent.
While the previous three aspects of the metaphorical bridge appear to be universal, there are other aspects which may not emanate necessarily from the nature of human sense experience. Nevertheless, the following aspects of bridge metaphor, although more subtle, are also extremely recurrent and would seem to function largely irrespective of cultural boundaries. A prime example of this is found when the bridge is used to physically represent a "twist of fate" within the context of a narrative.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 4:
ENCOUNTERING A TWIST OF FATE IS CROSSING A BRIDGE (18)
The origin of this understanding likely is based on the human perception that bridges are rarely flat extensions of the separate lands which they conjoin. Commonly, bridges have an arced shape, eliciting the idea of an upward motion turning back on itself and moving down, or vice-versa. Tying in with the positive connotations of the established metaphor MORE IS UP (19) and negative connotations of its converse LESS IS DOWN, progress reverts to regress, bad luck turns to good, safety becomes danger and imminent death leads to salvation through the arc of the metaphorical bridge.
A number of metaphors have been shown to inform our conception of death. Among these are the general CHANGE OF STATE IS CHANGE OF LOCATION (20) and the more specific instances, DEATH IS DEPARTURE and DEATH IS GOING TO A FINAL DESTINATION. One thing that we quickly perceive about death is that there is no natural interaction between the living and the dead. As the dead "depart on their journey" we see them to be crossing "a great chasm" which "separates" us from them until we ourselves "cross over."
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 5:
PERSON DYING IS PERSON CROSSING A BRIDGE (21)
Although any claim as to the universality of this metaphor might run somewhat counter to intuition, in reality it is found commonly in the literature of multiple cultures and time periods. On closer examination, this particular aspect of the bridge metaphor, while nearly universal despite its apparent specificity, is perhaps just an extremely recurrent corollary of Aspect 6.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 6:
INTERSECTION OF DISCRETE STATES IS A BRIDGE (22)
An extrapolation from the previously mentioned CHANGE OF STATE IS CHANGE OF LOCATION, often we see an experiential or conceptual rift between various modes of existence. Concerning time we live in the present and feel somehow cut off from the past and the future and so we quickly understand the newspaper headline "Building a bridge to prosperity in Pennsylvania." (23) This story introduces the efforts of a certain developer who sees bridge construction as a means to move from the current state of "present economic stagnation" to "future economic vitality." Bridges also are commonly seen as an intersection between diametrically opposed states of existence. One example would be the conceptual opposites, the "realm of deities" and the "realm of mortal humans." In Japanese Noh dramas, for instance, divine visitors must symbolically enter and exit the stage by way of a "bridge" (hashigakari) which represents to the audience their transition as they proceed into and out of the mortal sphere.(24)
It has been recognized that changes may be seen as spatial movements. Mark Turner gives the example: "time might be a river, which moves "current" events along."(25) Indeed, the metaphor stating that TIME IS A RIVER is extremely recurrent and not surprisingly is often used in conjunction with the bridge metaphor due to the frequent contiguity of rivers and bridges. In the formulation TIME IS A RIVER it is apparent that upstream lies the river's origin. In the context of human life, this might refer to one's birth. Downstream is one's death, the ocean. A bridge then corresponds to a fixed point in time. Furthermore, bridges are typically elevated above the surface of rivers (thereby removing one from the "current" of time) and offer a good view in both directions that might not be afforded from the river shore. Consequently, another metaphor we find among literary bridges is that of the bridge as a place for exceptionally keen and often supernatural revelations about life.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 7:
SEEING FROM TRANSCENDENT VIEWPOINT IS SEEING FROM A BRIDGE (26)
While the previous seven aspects of the Bridge Paradigm often found in a literary context are metaphorical, the next aspect might more accurately be seen as metonymy, although there is a metaphorical function evident as well. Throughout history there have been many different kinds of bridges used. One of the most basic methods of categorization would be to divide bridges according to the materials used in their construction: wood, stone, rope, steel or an amalgam of these. Metonymically, the type of technology used in bridge construction represents the technological and cultural sophistication of the individual, group or society which
builds it, hence the following aspect of the bridge paradigm:
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 8:
HUMAN CULTURAL SOPHISTICATION IS BRIDGE TECHNOLOGY (27)
When this sort of metonymy projects onto the previously stated metaphor DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP IS BUILDING A BRIDGE, different sorts of bridges are seen to represent different sorts of relationships with far-reaching metaphorical implications. For example, wooden bridges are often seen to stand for basic, old-fashioned relationships, and extending the metaphor in a way consistent with the durability of a wooden bridge, romantic relationships evoked in such a way are not likely to last.(28)
The metaphor DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP IS BUILDING A BRIDGE is a decidedly optimistic metaphor. In real life, bridges enable positive as well as negative interaction between the previously separated locations or entities. Not surprisingly, in areas of chronic military strife, the metaphorical bridge often tends to evoke images of relationships developed for domination rather than friendship, and which are characterized by one party's humiliation rather than mutual benefit. This particular manifestation of the bridge metaphor is not often found in cultural settings with a largely peaceful history, but in areas such as the Balkans of Eastern Europe, examples of literary bridges rarely evoke any sort of positive image.Bridge Paradigm Aspect 9:
PREPARATION FOR MILITARY CONQUEST IS BUILDING A BRIDGE (29)
Previously it was mentioned that "Building Bridges" has been used by the Rev. Jesse Jackson to represent his sense of vision for a better future, but according to a news account entitled "Winning Ugly," (30) he was largely misunderstood when he brought this simplistic slogan along on his humanitarian trip to war-torn Yugoslavia. Following closely on the tails of NATO bombings of numerous local bridges the phrase seemed "insensitive," and in a historical context where bridges have constantly been used to facilitate aggression, it was unlikely his audience could sympathize with his intended message. Note that this formulation does not effect the claim for recurrence concerning Bridge Paradigm Aspect 2, but rather expresses a specific contextual corollary of that aspect.
Many of the previous examples of how the bridge often functions as a metaphor in the literary context are extrapolations from more basic image-schema metaphors. Since the human mind commonly performs this sort of extrapolation as it projects from source domain onto target domain, it should not be surprising to find that even relatively complex metaphors may be ex-
tremely recurrent across cultural boundaries. One remarkable example is the conception that a bridge is somehow a place of "sacrifice."
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 10:
PLACE OF SACRIFICE IS A BRIDGE
There is nothing patently obvious about this formulation, and I assumed it to be a derivative of a specific cultural tradition when I first noticed it. Only as it began to show up repeatedly in the literature of multiple cultures and time periods did I begin to suspect that it was actually a sophisticated amalgamation of more basic and recurrent metaphors. Indeed, because the metaphors on which it is apparently based are so recurrent, the more sophisticated formulation has also been observed to be extremely recurrent despite its formidable complexity.
PLACE OF SACRIFICE IS A BRIDGE appears to result from the elaborate overlapping of image schemas as various Bridge Paradigm Aspects are mapped onto one another. These aspects include but are not necessarily limited to OVERCOMING A DIFFICULTY IN LIFE IS CROSSING A BRIDGE, ENCOUNTERING A TWIST OF FATE IS CROSSING A BRIDGE, PERSON DYING IS PERSON CROSSING A BRIDGE, INTERSECTION OF DISCRETE STATES IS A BRIDGE and SEEING FROM TRANSCENDENT VIEWPOINT IS SEEING FROM A BRIDGE. While it is no simple task to bring all of these aspects together into one narrative, it has been done consistently and to great effect by numerous authors in multiple and diverse literary settings.(31)
The previous metaphor formulations have been arrived at empirically during the course of close examination of more than 56 narratives in which bridges play a central role. These works represent the literature and oral traditions of more than 12 different countries and cultural traditions dating from the present back to the 14th century B.C.(32) While the aspects noted are not an exhaustive list of formulations and purposely leave out certain non-recurrent and culturally specific aspects of bridge metaphor, it is the author's hope that it will serve as a good basis for future examination of the bridge as a literary metaphor. More importantly for this paper, however, the previous list will serve to guide a careful inspection of and interpretation concerning For Whom the Bell Tolls.
An Analysis of For Whom the Bell Tolls
with special attention to the Bridge Metaphor
There has been ample and painstaking attention already lavished on the works of Ernest
Hemingway and For Whom the Bell Tolls is no exception to this general observation. With so much having already been said, is there anything left to say? I suppose there will always be new observations which can be made, although it must be admitted that truly "earth-shaking" viewpoints may become more infrequent as time passes. Nevertheless, while there can potentially be as many interpretations of a work as there are readers, often these prove to be not much more than an individual reader's psychological reaction to the text. Compared with the largely intuitive (and often haphazard) methods by which many textual interpretations are arrived at, the contemporary theory of metaphor would seem to offer powerful tools for locating (or at least verifying) certain key aspects of a given literary work.
Much of the theoretical groundwork for the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor theory has been applied in the analysis of poetry. Why are some combinations of imagery deemed poetic when others are not? What separates generally acknowledged "great" verse from that which might be deemed "trite"? Turner, in his book, The Literary Mind, has identified one very key principle which guides the skilled poet in the course of writing:
Therefore, put more simply, great poets do not "mix their metaphors," or at least when they do, they do so cleverly, in a way that our metaphor-sensitive minds will not be offended.
Aesthetic probing by way of this invariance principle has proven illuminating in the analysis of poetry. It also shows itself to be a worthwhile tool in the analysis of allegory and parable. Still, as complexity and length of the narrative in question increase, the relative power of the invariance principle as a critical tool would appear to diminish. Having said this, in certain cases in which an author of long-form fiction appears to be carefully crafting a story around one or a few central images, these images should not be overlooked.
I have already asserted that the bridge in For Whom the Bell Tolls is just such a symbol. Dismissal of this type of interpretive attempt could be expressed by asserting that Hemingway himself really didn't understand what he was doing when he wrote. Actually, this sort of underestimation of Hemingway's skill fits well into the public legend that gradually evolved
It is amusing to read through the early reviews, not for their appreciation of [A Farewell to Arms], but for the misconceptions of Hemingway-as-writer that were already current. He was anti-intellectual; he had learned too much from Gertrude Stein; he was an autobiographic writer; he wrote well naturally, but did not understand the process; he was unread; the image was full blown by 1930, and, if it was not true, it did not hurt his sales.(34)
Indeed, Hemingway's greatest strength as a writer was probably his ability to conceal many of his most effective metaphorical and structural strategies. Perhaps part of this problem stemmed from the fact that events of his own life were often so interwoven with the stories he wrote that separating fact from fiction became an impossible task.
Metaphor in A Farewell to Arms offers a great example of this. While some critics are quick to point out that Hemingway's symbolic use of "rain" perfectly enhances the gloomy atmosphere of many of the apparently fictional scenes in the retreat from Caporetto, Michael Reynolds responds that Hemingway's meteorological description matched closely "a rather exact timetable provided by the battle accounts"(35) which emerged from eyewitness testimony of soldiers who participated in the historical retreat. Running parallel to this question as to symbolic content seen in "rain," bridges in general, and the wooden bridge at Tagliamento in particular, are used to great literary effect throughout A Farewell to Arms.(36) At the same time, Hemingway had gleaned these bridges, and to some extent the incidents associated with them, from maps and actual battle accounts. Can the bridges be said to have metaphorical content or were they simply the result of careful study and the inevitable props of war? This sort of problem comes up again and again in Hemingway's fiction. Is art imitating life or life imitating art? Or was Hemingway subtly weaving life and art into such a closely woven fabric that they became indistinguishable?
In the case of For Whom the Bell Tolls at least, Hemingway at times mentioned the bridge in the story as though it actually existed. Nevertheless, the Puente de la Cantina,(37) which Hemingway often referred to and even visited with his wife, bears little resemblance to the bridge in the book. First of all, it was never the object of any guerrilla activity. It was made of stone and not steel. It spanned a small, white-water stream and not a "deep gorge." And perhaps most importantly, it was not behind enemy lines at all, but was actually in Republican held territory. The destruction of the bridge would not have been at all vital to the success of the
historical battle depicted in the book, or any battle, which explains why it was never a target in the first place.(38)It would appear that, although few would deny Hemingway's insider knowledge of the Spanish Civil War, the specific events he described and the bridge's importance to the outcome of the otherwise well-known battle were entirely fictional. Hemingway even admitted as much. When one of Ernest's friends "tried to make Ernest admit that he had personally experienced the action described in the novel," Hemingway responded, "Hell, no."…"I made it up."(39) Unlike the wooden bridge at Tagliamento in A Farewell to Arms, which had earned much of its historical significance before Hemingway even arrived in Italy, the bridge so crucial to the action in For Whom the Bell Tolls was a product of Hemingway's imagination and as such, it points all the more toward Hemingway's specific literary agenda for it. We will now examine the bridge in For Whom the Bell Tolls in respect to each previously mentioned recurrent aspect of the bridge paradigm to discover what that agenda might be.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 1: OVERCOMING A DIFFICULTY IN LIFE IS CROSSING A BRIDGE
With little reflection, this most basic aspect of the bridge's metaphorical function would seem a relatively minor one in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Robert Jordan's task is to destroy the bridge and certainly this is no easy matter. Nevertheless, destroying a bridge is a far cry from crossing a bridge. It would be very simple to write this particular aspect off quickly if it were not for Pilar's comment while Jordan was attaching the dynamite to the bridge: "Is he building a bridge or blowing one?"(40) Indeed, Robert E. Gajdusek notices an irony in the particular scene, namely that even as Jordan is wiring the bridge for destruction he seems to be building something else, something supreme and metaphoric.(41) This sort of ambiguity does seem to be present in the passage, and it is ambiguous not just because it is unclear, but because it is functioning at multiple levels simultaneously. These different difficulties which must be addressed will come into focus better when we deal with Bridge Paradigm Aspects 2,3,4 and 6. Let us suffice to say that Jordan is facing some philosophical and emotional difficulties apart from simply destroying the bridge and that the destruction of the bridge does indeed help him to overcome them, but so far, this particular aspect is a very loose fit, and as such, we will abandon it for the moment and move on to more substantive inferences.
Bridge Paradigm Aspects 2 and 3:
DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP IS BUILDING A BRIDGE
DAMAGING A RELATIONSHIP IS DESTROYING A BRIDGE
Because Robert Jordan is a newcomer to the guerrillas, each relationship must be built from nothing in the three or so days in which the story takes place. Even still, one does not need to look very far in For Whom the Bell Tolls to find the main relationship. The relationship between Robert Jordan and Maria must be considered the book's most central engagement. Whether attributed to the boldness of people who could die at any moment or simply to Hemingway's willful narrative desire to fit the story's events into 68 odd hours, Robert Jordan and Maria fall in love at first sight and never look back. Their relationship progresses steadily from tentative probing of the other's intentions to vows of eternal fidelity in a very short time, and all of this despite (or perhaps because of) the constant danger the group finds itself in.
When Robert Jordan is on his way to the camp with the old man Anselmo as guide, he is cool and calculating. He doesn't plan to care for the people he will meet, much less fall in love. This detachment he sees as a necessary part of war, at least if one wants to stay alive. After meeting Maria, he gains a new perspective on love and begins to dream of the future. Together they contemplate living together in Madrid. For the three days that they are together, Robert Jordan and Maria imagine a happy future for themselves, albeit one which neither thinks can be attained. The bridge stands in the way. If they can get past the destruction of the bridge, then the future seems theirs for the taking but only after the destruction of the bridge. Finally, however, in destroying the bridge, they also destroy their own relationship.
This is how Bridge Aspect 3: DAMAGING A RELATIONSHIP IS DESTROYING A BRIDGE plays in. To continue their relationship they must destroy the bridge, but the bridge is the basis of their relationship and its destruction will probably doom their individual lives. Suddenly the multiple metaphorical levels become clear. The metaphorical bridge to their imagined future together is created by destroying the actual bridge and yet the actual bridge's destruction will also likely destroy their lives, and hence their relationship. While these conditions on the future are confusing and prevent the reader from easily guessing how the book will play out, this tension is not accidental. On the contrary, Hemingway seems quite intent on accentuating it at every turn. At one point the two seem to place faith in their future as a couple, together in Madrid. Then Maria intimates that Jordan actually expects to die while trying to destroy the bridge on the following day, and Jordan replies:
"Of course not. Do not talk such manure," he said, using a stronger, ugly word.
But this time when he talked about Madrid there was no slipping into make-believe again. Now he was just lying to his girl and to himself to pass the night before battle and he knew it.(42)
In fact, Jordan did think there was a good chance of dying, but he was admired by Pilar precisely because he "gave it no importance."(43) Is one person's death important? Is it insignificant? This sort of question harks back to John Donne's prologue. Indeed, this is the main question and we will see it more clearly upon examination of Bridge Paradigm Aspect 6.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 4: ENCOUNTERING A TWIST OF FATE IS CROSSING A BRIDGEAlthough there are a number of plot twists in For Whom the Bell Tolls, many critics, including the aforementioned Baker(44), have noted that the greatest swing of destiny's pendulum undoubtedly occurs after the destruction of the bridge. Once the bridge is blown, the hunters become the hunted, the predators become the prey. That Robert Jordan actually crosses the bridge in rigging it to explode should not be overlooked as a minor detail. According to William Braasch Watson, "Hemingway had acquired a detailed and thorough knowledge of the subtleties of demolition work and…" he "accurately communicated this knowledge throughout his novel in ways that are both subtle and realistic."(45) Watson also notes that the only aspect of the bridge demolition that the experts he consulted "objected to at all was the wiring technique Jordan used, with a wire for each side of the bridge…"(46) Surely, there are a number of alternative reasons which might explain why Hemingway chose this particular type of demolition strategy, but one possibility is that Hemingway realized the imagistic power of a protagonist physically "crossing" a bridge. There was no need for Jordan to cross it in preparing to destroy it, and yet he did. Practically speaking, this action seems to serve little purpose, but upon examining the metaphorical potential that the bridge can better access after it has been crossed, Hemingway's seemingly impractical flourish begins to look more like exceedingly subtle crafting.
After Jordan crosses (and then destroys) the bridge, how is the metaphorical twist of fate actually substantiated? The first immediate victim of the bridge is Anselmo who dies instantly, hit by flying debris, but the arcing of the metaphorical bridge will wreak much more havoc and Hemingway is careful to show us in no uncertain terms. Having already blown the bridge, Robert Jordan hears the sounds of planes taking part in the battle, and realizes that they belong
to the enemy:
He had the feeling of something that had started normally and had then brought great, outsized, giant repercussions. It was as though you had thrown a stone and the stone made a ripple and the ripple returned roaring and toppling as a tidal wave.(47)
Although the greater battle is taking place far away, the concentric circles of counter-force still seem to emanate outward from the broken bridge. Unable to pursue the saboteurs directly, the enemy forces have gathered at the bridgehead and can only fire from a distance at the fleeing band. After everyone else has safely crossed the area of danger it is Jordan's turn to spur his horse down the bank and across the exposed section of road. At this point, Jordan commits the sin of Lot's wife in the Bible and looks back…twice.
…and he looked down across the slope to where the bridge showed now at a new angle he had never seen. It crossed in profile now without foreshortening and in the center was the broken place and behind it on the road was the little tank and behind the little tank was a big tank with a gun that flashed now yellow-bright as a mirror and the screech as the air ripped apart seemed almost over the gray neck that stretched ahead of him…
…and he looked back at the bridge and saw the bright flash from the heavy, squat, mud-colored tank there on the road and then he did not hear any whish but only a banging acrid smelling clang like a boiler being ripped apart and he was under the gray horse and the gray horse was kicking and he was trying to pull out from under the weight.(48)
As Jordan's leg is broken by the fall of his horse making further travel impossible, his eventual death is assured. In this way, the destructive force unleashed on the bridge is seen to boomerang back toward him from the bridge and fell him from a distance. After the great attention paid the bridge from the first few pages of the book, it should not seem at all coincidental that Robert Jordan's fate is sealed by a shot from that same bridge. Furthermore, it must be noted that this is not the first time Hemingway has harnessed the bridge's metaphoric potential to show a reversal of fortune. In A Farewell to Arms, when Frederic changed from a loyal if disheartened soldier to a deserter at the bridge of Tagliamento, the location of the bridge in the narrative marks the crucial juncture in the story upon which fate pivots. These two incidents
taken together point all the more to Hemingway's premeditated use of the bridge for metaphorical effect.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 5: PERSON DYING IS PERSON CROSSING A BRIDGE
Since the bridge to be destroyed lies as an obstacle in Robert Jordan's path to happiness with Maria in Madrid, he must temporally "cross the bridge" (get safely beyond the time of the bridge's destruction) to effectively access their future together. It has already been noted that he actually does physically cross the bridge in wiring it for demolition, even though this act seems superfluous and goes against an engineer's common sense. Are there any other metaphorical implications for a person crossing a bridge in the course of a fictional work? As has been mentioned before, a great percentage of the time, when a person crosses a bridge in fiction, it foreshadows their eventual crossing from the "land of the living" to the "land of the dead," and indeed Robert Jordan is no exception.
Was Hemingway aware of this aspect of bridge metaphor? Robert Jordan's very name would seem to indicate that he was. In the Old Testament, the Jordan River was the river which Joshua and the people of Israel crossed to enter the Promised Land.(49) In Judeo-Christian imagery, the Promised Land represents Heaven, which is a spiritual paradise after death. The river Jordan, then, is a concept burgeoning with death and this could not have been lost on Hemingway. In fact, in one passage, Robert Jordan engages in ominous word-play as he talks to himself while setting explosives on the bridge and evokes the hidden meaning in his own name:
Roll, Jordan, Roll! They used to yell that at football when you lugged the ball. Do you know the damned Jordan is really not much bigger than that creek down there below?
…As Jordan goes so go the bloody Israelites. The bridge, I mean. As Jordan goes, so goes the bloody bridge, other way around, really.(50)
In this stream of consciousness passage, Jordan anticipates his own death three separate times. First, he notes that the real Jordan, and by extension the division between life and death, is not wide, much like the creek below him as he hangs precipitously from the span. Then, he carelessly intimates that the "Israelites" will die just like him, and quickly
attempts a restatement, phrasing it so that the bridge and the Israelites will meet a similar fate. Finally, in another verbal miscue, he ties his own fate to that of the bridge, which is apparently headed for destruction, again realizing the significance after the fact. What he really meant to say was "As the bridge goes, so goes Jordan" which would tie the success of the bridge demolition to his own success in the battle, but of course he never actually says this. This ingenious passage shows that Hemingway can reference his own metaphorical content without being ham-handed about it. Typically for Hemingway, the allusion is so subtle and comedic that it is likely to pass by all but unnoticed, and yet Jordan's death, which has been foreshadowed continually throughout the novel, is never so apparent as in his own disastrous Freudian slips.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 6: INTERSECTION OF DISCRETE STATES IS A BRIDGE
The previous view of the bridge as a metaphorical intersection of life and death is just one particularly compelling example of how the bridge can be seen to connect otherwise discrete or even mutually exclusive states. It would not be surprising to find, then, that Hemingway may have been using the bridge to metaphorically link up other discrete or even conceptually opposite states. To confirm this would be a rather straightforward exercise. Logically, one would begin by searching for discrete or mutually exclusive concepts or abstract ideas that appear often in the text and then see if the creation or destruction of the bridge seems to imply something about these.
If there is a persistent concept which breaks the terse verbal surface again and again in Hemingway's writing it is precisely "nothing." A shining example of this is found in the set of stories called, significantly, Winner Take Nothing. The story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place shows "nothing" to be a particularly loaded word in the Hemingway vernacular, whether spoken in English or using its Spanish equivalent, "nada." Quoting a conversation between two waiters about the story's protagonist, depressed and drunk in a bar:
'Last week he tried to commit suicide,' one waiter said.
'He was in despair.'
'How do you know it was nothing?'
'He has plenty of money.'(51)
And quoting from further on in the story, the author sums up the protagonist's trauma:
What did he fear? It was not fear or dread. It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too.(52)
And soon after, the reader suddenly runs into a sudden burst of nihilistic religiosity, as the inebriated pessimist recites an impromptu liturgy to accompany the meaningless sacrament he is no doubt imbibing as he sits:
Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada.(53)
This pathetic monologue goes on and on, ad nada, and eventually ends, but not before sliding quickly through a particularly poignant and quietly desperate plea: "deliver us from nada."
Robert Jordan, in For Whom the Bell Tolls, is constantly reflecting on what is "important" and what is not. Not surprisingly, that which is of no importance is expressed to be "nothing." It would be a daunting task to pay specific attention to each instance, but perhaps a cursory examination will suffice. According to Robert Jordan and other characters in the book, "a bridge is nothing" (pages 31,45,53,277), Pilar pretended to see "nothing" in Jordan's future when she read his palm (33), "these mountains" say nothing(47), "to die is nothing" (111,312), one's family being killed is "nothing"(139), there is "nothing else than now" (169), language is nothing (180), "too much" of something is nothing (181), "to drink is nothing" (211), one's own death seemed "of complete unimportance" (235), people's opinions of others are of "no importance" (262), prudent actions are nothing (292), everyone dying tomorrow is "of no importance" (345,355), a traitor's change of heart is "Nada" (389), and death itself is experiencing "nothing" (470). This constant barrage of "nothing" exemplifies Robert Jordan's philosophy of life and is the background against which events in the book are set. From the beginning of For Whom the Bell Tolls, "nothing" is taken for granted.
And yet there is a movement toward "something" in the book which seems to be quite out of character for Hemingway, whose own philosophy till the time of writing For Whom the Bell Tolls could be said to closely resemble that of Robert Jordan. Let's follow the development as "nothing" moves towards "importance" and becoming "something." For Robert Jordan, before he
met the band of guerrillas, duty and loyalty to a cause were the only things of value:
…your own death seemed of complete unimportance; only a thing to be avoided because it would interfere with the performance of your duty.(54)
If one's duty involved destroying a bridge at a certain time, then destroying the same bridge at a different time would be of little consequence:
"That would serve no purpose. The bridge is a part of the plan to win the war. This would be nothing. This would be an incident. A nothing."(55)
Only in the specific context of duty can the bridge have significance:
Neither you nor this old man is anything. You are instruments to do your duty. There are necessary orders that are no fault of yours and there is a bridge and that bridge can be the point on which the future of the human race can turn.(56)
But then Jordan meets Maria and begins to have doubts about his duty and about his ability to follow through with what his convictions are compelling him to do:
What a business. You go along your whole life and they seem as though they mean something and they always end up not meaning anything. You think that is one thing you will never have. And then, on a lousy show like this, co-ordinating two chicken-crut guerilla bands to help you blow a bridge under impossible conditions, to abort a counter-offensive that will probably already be started, you run into a girl like this Maria.(57)
Jordan and Maria have sensed a transcendent bond between them during sex and for some reason Hemingway feels obliged to explain that this is not simply a euphemism for orgasm. Pilar, with her gypsy instincts, insists to the couple and the reader that their relationship is unusual. When told by Maria that the "earth moved" she tells them:
"It never moves more than three times in a lifetime. Did it really move?"-----116/117
"Yes," the girl said. "Truly.""For you, Inglés?" Pilar looked at Robert Jordan. "Don't lie."
"Yes," he said. "Truly."
"Good," said Pilar. "Good. That is something."(58)
Suddenly we find that "something" of substance has been created between Robert Jordan and Maria. Of course, Jordan, ever cynical, attempts to deny it:
It never meant much, he told himself truthfully. You tried to make it mean something but it never did.(59)
He also realizes that other people will likely not accept that "something":
There will always be people who say it does not exist because they cannot have it.(60)
And yet he himself, ultimately, when his own life is on the line, makes a conscious decision to believe in "something" rather than abandoning himself to "nothing":
Try to believe what you told her. That is the best. And who says it is not true? Not you, you don't say it any more than you would say the things did not happen that happened. Stay with what you believe now. Don't get cynical.(61)
And what was the basic truth about their relationship? That beauty, meaning and purpose are not found in individuals, but in believed connection with others:
He knew he himself was nothing, and he knew death was nothing. He knew that truly, as truly as he knew anything. In the last few days he had learned that he himself, with another person, could be everything.(62)
In the end, after the bridge was exploded, and after he was incapacitated, Robert Jordan had to convince Maria that she should leave him because wherever she went he would go with her; now they were inseparable. Of course, in a physical sense this was untrue. Jordan would die
in hopes of ensuring his comrades' escape. But finally he saw that his death was not "meaningless." The bridge which had brought himself and Maria together in a common cause had connected two insignificant human beings to create meaning. A conspiracy of "nothing" had accomplished "something." In this way, Hemingway's ambition in writing For Whom the Bell Tolls is particularly noteworthy. It was a nihilistic author's attempt to create something out of nothing, and for some who read the book, it seems that he succeeded.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 7: SEEING FROM TRANSCENDENT VIEWPOINT IS SEEING FROM A BRIDGE
In our lives, and despite Einstein's hypothetical models, we do not find that the past, present or future ever overlap into each other. Certainly, the metaphor TIME IS A RIVER points to the ultimate fact that the three are sequentially interrelated, but the progression is an immutable one and so past, present and future are discrete states and normal conditions of life do not permit us to cross freely from one to another and back again. Fiction, however, is not bound by these rules and so it should not be surprising when fiction attempts to offer us counterfactual or even mystical views of normally unavailable past, present or future events, or even attempts to transport us out of the temporal stream itself so we may see from a transcendent God's-eye view.
Temporally speaking, For Whom the Bell Tolls entire structure has been shown to be circular. Robert Jordan's story begins and ends as he lies on the "pine needle floor of the forest."(63) This overall movement of the plot, time turning back on itself, shows the world we perceive to be a constant recapitulation of previous themes. Death, betrayal, love and duty do not originate in For Whom the Bell Tolls, nor would anyone suppose that they did. Despite this, Hemingway exerts all of his literary skills toward presenting a "meaningful" way to escape the ever-repeating "nothingness" of the physical world we live in, a sort of modernist nirvana. This realization of deeper meaning is provided both implicitly and explicitly by the bridge. Brought together for the purpose of destroying the bridge, Jordan and Maria discover an apparently truer sort of existence than either could have had separately. Because of the bridge, Jordan is, on numerous occasions, given a "new angle he had never seen"(64) about the details of his life. He feels he has been "learning fast there at the end," to the extent that when he is about to die, he is left with much he would like to communicate to others: "I wish there was some way to pass on what I've learned, though."(65) Jordan is not alone in his bridge-instigated clairvoyance.
Anselmo also experiences a transcendent picture of his own existence while awaiting the destruction of the bridge:
Anselmo becomes one with the whole world through the bridge, and the significance of this transcendent vision of "oneness" expressed by Hemingway will become all the more clear when we discuss Bridge Paradigm Aspect 10: PLACE OF SACRIFICE IS A BRIDGE.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 8: HUMAN CULTURAL SOPHISTICATION IS BRIDGE TECHNOLOGY
In Allen Josephs' book For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway's Undiscovered Country we find an intriguing picture on page 56. It is a picture of Ernest Hemingway sitting in the grass alongside a beautiful stone bridge, which he claimed was the bridge in For Whom the Bell Tolls. As mentioned earlier, though, the spidery, steel bridge behind enemy lines in the novel bears no resemblance to the one pictured with Hemingway. Whether Hemingway actually drew inspiration from the Puente de la Cantina or not, in writing the fictional work, he had good reason to use steel and not stone. Stone bridges are charming and nostalgic, but they are an example of a technologically outdated sort of engineering. First used commonly by the Roman Empire, they have played various roles in the history of military conquest, but in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway was making a concerted effort to portray the Fascist army as richer, better equipped and technologically superior to the peasant Republicans. After the consistently foreboding references to the Fascists' superior German-made planes, to have cast the strategically vital bridge (which also played a central metaphorical role in the work) as a "stone" bridge would have been a grave miscalculation. To destroy a "stone" bridge would have been metonymically linked to an attack against old Spanish culture and venerable traditions, which Hemingway felt considerable sympathy for. The choice of "steel" construction for his fictitious bridge was the only logical choice.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 9: PREPARATION FOR MILITARY CONQUEST IS BUILDING A BRIDGE
In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway demonstrated in the "retreat from Caporetto" segment of the story just how decisive undestroyed bridges can be to an oncoming army. This aspect, found among bridges in general, has been distilled and crystallized into one strategically vital bridge in For Whom the Bell Tolls. When General Golz is giving Jordan his orders at the beginning of the story, he makes it clear that the attack will be a failure without the bridge's destruction, which will keep enemy reinforcements from reaching the front. Complicating the matter, the bridge is to be destroyed only after the Republican attack has begun and not a moment before.(67) While this vital strategic aspect of the bridge is completely fictional and unrelated to the historical battle which the story seems to mention, bridges have played crucial roles in various battles throughout history, from Horatius at the Tiber(68) to the desperate attempts to capture bridges across the Rhine so as to speed the Allied advance on Berlin in World War II. In the context of battle, bridges tend naturally to communicate their strategic importance, but Hemingway was willing to spell it out in no uncertain terms for the uninitiated. Furthermore, it might be said that each time he stresses the bridge's military importance, he is also adding to its cumulative metaphorical weight so that eventually when it is destroyed, the psychological effect may be greater.
As has been mentioned previously, examples of the bridge's function as a metaphor for military domination are as old as the long-standing conflicts recently erupting in post-communist Eastern Europe. Ismail Kadare, in The Three-Arched Bridge,(69) exquisitely relates an account of the Ottoman Empire's incursion into the Balkans. Vividly utilizing the various aspects of the bridge metaphor, Kadare tells of a local saboteur, who has slowed progress of the bridge's construction, being killed and immured in the bridge, his face staring out of the plaster as an example to all. The propaganda of the military machine behind the bridge portrays him as a willing victim, and a sacrificial offering to appease the "spirit of the bridge." This extremely recurrent aspect of bridge metaphor, namely the bridge as a place of sacrifice, is found in Hemingway's metaphorical formulation of the bridge, as well.
Bridge Paradigm Aspect 10: PLACE OF SACRIFICE IS A BRIDGE
There are many sacrifices which take place at or near the bridge. The first one which comes to mind is Anselmo. Anselmo, a deeply religious man, is troubled by the necessity in
war to kill other men. Through the entire book he engages in an ongoing dialogue with the more cynical Jordan about the need for some sort of expiation for his "sin." While helping Jordan prepare for the bridge's destruction, Anselmo comes to the realization that his prayer of the previous night to be spared from his conscience, if only to better participate in the mindless action of battle for the sake of the cause, is answered. With this momentary absolution, Anselmo calmly observes "If I die on this morning it will be all right."(70) Only moments later as he and Jordan each pull a wire to set off the double explosion and destroy the bridge, a hurtling fragment of steel kills him instantly where he lay exposed. Anselmo is sacrificed to a greater cause than simply the battle, or even the Republican political agenda. Recall Anselmo's feeling of oneness with the bridge, with Jordan, with "all of the battle and with the Republic"(71) just before his death. When this pure-intentioned man is killed at the bridge, his death provides the absolution he so desired for himself, but through his sense of "oneness" the pardon even seems to extend beyond the bridge to other noble men, including Jordan, forced to kill in battle for a cause they believe in. In Hemingway's strangely religious nihilism, death forgives sin (or at least ends one's perception of one's own sin); more striking, however, is the intimation of Anselmo as a figure of Christ. He is symbolically absolved from his own sin as he dies, with the bridge, a horizontal "cross" of steel, serving to extend that forgiveness to include a multitude of others.
It is fairly obvious that Jordan, nearing the book's finale, offers to sacrifice his own life by staying behind to fight on hopelessly so that Maria and the others can better make their escape. Even after the others have gone he battles the temptation to commit suicide and end his extreme exhaustion and pain by exhorting himself: "Each one does what he can. You can do nothing for yourself but perhaps you can do something for another."(72) In this case "another" would seem to be Maria, at least on the surface. But as in so many other examples already shown, the surface is simply that, and a deeper metaphorical level awaits the alerted reader.Pablo and Comrade Andrés Marty, arguably the two most villainous characters in the story, are villainous to the extent that they will under no circumstances allow their own interests to be subsumed for the greater good. This is not to say that they are without strategy or logic. Pablo has his own formulation of Robert Jordan's "significance dichotomy" of nothing/something. The following quote is from the cave where Pablo keeps from being killed by getting drunk and appealing to Jordan's sense of decency which tells him he cannot kill a drunk: -----121/122
"I am drunk," Pablo said with dignity. "To drink is nothing. It is to be drunk that is important."(73)
And in fact, drinking does not save Pablo's life but being drunk does.
Although both Pablo and Marty are villainous, Comrade Marty (who is an actual historical figure) is the more detestable of the two. At least Pablo seems to recognize that his actions are guided solely by self-interest. Comrade Marty, believing he is acting for the purity of the communist party, plays God and puts loyal soldiers to death for the sake of his own self-importance. Comrade Marty and Pablo seem to represent both ends of the political spectrum, come from opposite sides of the battlefield and are extremes in blind idealism and self-absorbed pragmatism, respectively, but they are united in their lack of ability to sacrifice for others anything of themselves, much less their own lives.
This is a stark contrast to Robert Jordan's heroic willingness to sacrifice himself for the others and especially for Maria. Before meeting Maria, he had a certain blend of idealism and pragmatism, but these characteristics seemed to lack integration. Jordan was constantly contemplating the practical details related to carrying out the bombing but when faced with political or philosophical doubts he exhorts himself to stop thinking till after the war was over. Philosophically, the previously examined dialectic between something and nothing represents Jordan's struggle to ground his idealism in something other than base self-interest, as he perceived many in the war around him to be doing.
So in meeting Maria, did he ground his idealism in "love" to achieve meaning? At the surface, this seems to be the case, but again we must give Hemingway greater credit and go beneath the surface. Of course, no one can dispute that Maria is Jordan's romantic interest. This has led at least one critic to remark that at its most basic level For Whom the Bell Tolls is a romance.(74) On the other hand, it has also been observed by many a critic that Maria has an unearthly, ethereal, idealized quality about her. Arthur Waldhorn even comments about the timeless quality of their relationship that "Eternity with a creature so boundlessly and mindlessly submissive might make a lesser man long to be translated again into time."(75) She is unusual in that Hemingway's female romantic leads are generally more stylized than idealized; their faults are beatified right along with their virtues. Seen in this light, of all the women in Hemingway's fiction, Maria seems the least real. She is a veritable angel, at least to Robert Jordan, and he cannot help but fall hopelessly in love with her. I would assert that the reason for this is that Maria, who surely represents "love" to at least some extent, also represents "life" it-
self. Jordan's fictional life, lasting about seventy hours, begins when he meets Maria. When Jordan embraces her, what he is embracing is the essence of life, lived fully and unhesitatingly due to the proximity of death. Just like the protagonist in The Short Happy Life of Francis MacComber(76), the threat of imminent death is what drives the terrified soul into the waiting arms of joyous life, if only momentarily.
Suddenly, the complex sacrifice at the bridge comes into focus. What Jordan has come to appreciate is the goodness of life. The only philosophical basis for self-sacrifice would be a "greater good," but Jordan's skepticism about meaning allows for no "good" at all. In his relationship with Maria he discovers an irrefutable "good" which can impart "meaning" to sacrifice. As Maria escapes, the goodness of life which had been experienced by the couple goes with her. And the irrefutable goodness of life, which Jordan perceived with increasingly greater clarity as he neared death, is motivation enough to fight fascism, which he perceives clearly to be an enemy of the goodness of life. Is there any cause worth working for, worth dying for, worth sacrificing for, even to the extent of giving one's own life? Hemingway has asserted that, if there is such a cause, it is life itself. To quote Jordan:
"The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it."(77)
Because literary critics are so intimately involved with their subject, their analysis of literature often takes on many of the attributes of the object of study. In this tendency, there is a danger of producing criticism which tautologically mimics the imprecise, illogical or a-logical flourishes which are being described, facilitating air tight analysis in the way a glove is made to fit a hand. While no doubt there is an art to criticism even as their may be for scientific writing, if criticism is to move beyond the simple stating of elevated opinion, it is necessary for the critic to constantly ground opinions in objectivity and empirically verifiable facts.
With the general state of criticism as factionalized and diluted as it has become, it may seem to some readers that many of the observations made concerning For Whom the Bell Tolls in this essay are simply esoteric. To those so disillusioned, it should be stressed that the framework of the previous discussion, while far-ranging, has been grounded less in personal opinion and psychological reaction to For Whom the Bell Tolls than in the conclusions of empirical study of bridge metaphor (which were formulated long before reading the work in question).
For this reason,the categories discussed should not be seen as pertaining only to For Whom the Bell Tolls. They are empirically derived, and so the categories may be tested for validity and results may be "duplicated" in the "lab work" of other critics as they examine other texts. It is the hope of this author that these "overarching" categories of bridge metaphor may prove analytically useful in any fictional context in which a "bridge" plays a crucial role.
As to conclusions about Hemingway's sophistication as an author, I think many critics would probably question the legitimacy of the public perception of Hemingway (the myth). As an author, was Hemingway a velvet-gloved dictator or simply a rugged individualist with a pen? While generations of public perception glorify and reestablish the latter reputation, the sophisticated and apparently intentional use of the metaphorical bridge in For Whom the Bell Tolls would seem to lend great credence to the former view. At the surface the novel would seem to be either a love story or a war story. Upon closer examination, however, it is no less than an attempt by Hemingway to weave "the meaning of life" out of "nothing" and ground often selfish human idealism in the substance of love and community. Whether he succeeds in this supremely ambitious hidden agenda or succeeds only in telling a good story, Hemingway's own complexity will ensure many varied interpretations of his works for years to come.
********************(1) Strack, Daniel C. The Sacrificial Bridge: Literary Symbolism Transcending Cultural Paradigms. Kitakyushu, Japan: Kitakyushu University Faculty of Humanities Journal, Vol. 57, December, 1998, pp.137-166. (2) Lakoff, George and Mark Turner. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. The University of Chicago Press, 1989, p.84. (3) Strack, Daniel C. The Sacrificial Bridge: Literary Symbolism Transcending Cultural Paradigms. Kitakyushu, Japan: Kitakyushu University Faculty of Humanities Journal, Vol. 57, December, 1998, pp.137-166. (4) Lakoff, George and Mark Turner. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. The University of Chicago Press, 1989, p.84. (5) Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway's First War. Princeton University Press, 1976, pp. 65-66. (6) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.vi. (7) Baker, Carlos. "The Spanish Tragedy" in Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. Princeton University Press, 1956, p.246. -----124/125 (8) For general information on the Contemporary Theory of Metaphor, refer to George Lakoff and Mark Turner's More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. (The University of Chicago Press, 1989). (9) Turner, Mark and Gilles Fauconnier. "Conceptual Integration and Formal Expression" in Journal of Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, Volume 10, Number 3, 1995. (10) Lakoff, George and Mark Turner. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. The University of Chicago Press, 1989. (11) Ibid., p.85. (12) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense in children's literature is Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (New York: Harper Trophy, 1977). (13) Strack, Daniel. Sorihashi ni Okeru Hashi: Shocho to Kaishaku. (in Japanese) Kindai Bungaku Ronshu, Vol.25, 1999. (14) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is Muddy River by Miyamoto Teru (in River of Fireflies. Japan: Kodansha International Ltd., 1991). (15) The Japan Times, Wednesday, October 1, 1997, p.6. (16) Alex Todorovic, May 3, 1999, article "Winning Ugly" in salon.com. (17) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather (Simon & Schuster Editions, 1997). (18) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is the short story "The Seven Bridges" by Mishima Yukio (in Death in Midsummer and Other Stories. New York: New Directions Publishing, 1966). (19) Lakoff, George and Mark Turner. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. The University of Chicago Press, 1989, p.83. (20) Ibid., p.8. (21) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (New York: Pocket Books, Inc., 1939). (22) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (New York: Pocket Books, 1983). (23) Nando Times News article by Geof Becker (AP), November 29, 1998. (24) Strack, Daniel. "Sorihashi ni Okeru Hashi: Shocho to Kaishaku" in Kindai Bungaku Ronshu, Volume 25. Nagasaki, Japan: Nihon Kindai Bungakukai Kyushu Shibu, 1999. (25) Turner, Mark. The Literary Mind. Oxford University Press, 1996, p.48. (26) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is Albert's Bridge by Tom Stoppard. (London: Faber, 1970). (27) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is the poem "Brooklyn Bridge" by Vladimir Mayakovsky. (in Poems, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972). (28) The essence of this aspect may be observed in the (as yet untranslated) essay "Bridges of Japan"(Nihon no Hashi. Japan: Kodansha, 1990), in which noted Japanese scholar Yasuda Yojuro correctly implies that wooden bridges have much more of an evanescent quality than their stone or steel counterparts. -----125/126
Yasuda's work is flawed, however, in that he naively assumes that Japanese people prefer wooden bridges simply because they are Japanese, and "westerners" (an ill-defined group, to be sure) all prefer stone bridges because "the west" carries on traditions of the Roman Empire which used stone bridges for military aggression. This essay ignores the fact that as societies change, bridges change to adapt with them, and consequently, wooden bridges evoke a certain nostalgia in many parts of the world, not only in Japan.(29) A good example of the bridge metaphor used in this sense is The Bridge on the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle (London: Fontana Books, 1956). (30) Alex Todorovic, May 3, 1999, article "Winning Ugly" in salon.com. (31) Strack, Daniel C. The Sacrificial Bridge: Literary Symbolism Transcending Cultural Paradigms. Kitakyushu, Japan: Kitakyushu University Faculty of Humanities Journal, Vol. 57, December, 1998, pp.137-166. (32) A number of works are highlighted in the previously mentioned The Sacrificial Bridge: Literary Symbolism Transcending Cultural Paradigms by Daniel C. Strack. Further articles (in Japanese, with English abstracts) by Daniel C. Strack include Symbolism in Miyamoto's Doro no Kawa: The Metaphorical Opposition of Boats and Bridges and Clairvoyance in Miyamoto's Dotomborigawa: Viewing Life from a Bridge (Kitakyushu University Faculty of Humanities Journal, Volumes 56 and 54, respectively). (33) Turner, Mark. The Literary Mind. Oxford University Press, 1996, p.31. (34) Reynolds, Michael. Hemingway's First War. Princeton University Press, 1976, p. 82. (35) Ibid., p.116. (36) Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. London: Penguin, 1935. (37) Josephs, Allen. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway's Undiscovered Country. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994, p.52. (38) Ibid., pp.52-56. (39) Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969, p.347. (40) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.444. (41) Josephs, Allen. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway's Undiscovered Country. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994, p.147. (42) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.345. (43) Ibid., p.345. (44) Baker, Carlos. "The Spanish Tragedy" in Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. Princeton University Press, 1956, pp.245-246. (45) Josephs, Allen. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway's Undiscovered Country. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994, p.146. (46) Ibid., p.147. (47) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.451. (48) Ibid., p.460. (49) Joshua, chapters 3 and 4. The Holy Bible, New International Version. New York International Bible Soci- -----126/127
ety, 1978.(50) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.438. (51) Hemingway, Ernest. "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" in The Essential Hemingway. London: Arrow Books, 1993, p.433. (52) Ibid., p.436. (53) Ibid., p.437. (54) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.235. (55) Ibid., p.277. (56) Ibid., p.43. (57) Ibid., p.167. (58) Ibid., p.174. (59) Ibid., p.289. (60) Ibid., p.305. (61) Ibid., p.466. (62) Ibid., p.393. (63) Ibid., p.471. (64) Ibid., p.460. (65) Ibid., p.467. (66) Ibid., p.443. (67) Ibid., p.5. (68) Baker, Carlos. "The Spanish Tragedy" in Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. Princeton University Press, 1956, pp.246. (69) Kadare, Ismail. The Three-Arched Bridge, trans. John Hodgson. New York: Vintage International, 1998. (70) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.443. (71) Ibid., p.443. (72) Ibid., p.466. (73) Ibid., p.211. (74) Josephs, Allen. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway's Undiscovered Country. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994, p.109. (75) Waldhorn, Arthur. A Reader's Guide to Ernest Hemingway. New York: Octagon Books, 1981, p.175. (76) Hemingway, Ernest. "The Short Happy Life of Francis MacComber" in The Essential Hemingway. London: Arrow Books, 1993, p.457. (77) Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1940, p.467.