Themes and Characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls

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Themes and Characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway, is a contemporary novel about the realities of war. The novel is wrought with themes of life and stark direct writing. The characterization in the story is what comprises the intricacy of the underlying themes within the tale. The story itself is not complex, but the relationships of the characters with the environment and with each other coupled with Hemingway's command of description and understanding make the novel as a whole, increasingly developed. The emotions of the story are not found in the dry narrative but rather from the character's themselves.

The main character, Robert Jordan, has personality traits spanning various aspects of the heroic side of human nature. In addition, he displays ingenuity and perfectionism. His actions also show a high degree of introspection and philosophical thought. His relationship with Maria and the conflict it causes results in Robert Jordan's discovery of his personal values. He struggles to understand what defines his life and resolve the conflict of what to live or die for. Other secondary characters within the novel are Maria, Pilar, and Pablo.

Pilar and Pablo play pivotal roles in both the story and the development of Robert Jordan's character. Their personality traits come into direct conflict with each other, affecting Robert in a wide variety of ways. Pilar can be best described as an aggressive, dedicated, outspoken women who feels comfortable leading a group or controlling a situation. Pilar demonstrates her skill at various times within the text, most notable ...

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...xual trauma and made a woman by Robert, and he is given true happiness by her. Indeed, the rarity of their love is apparent when one analyzes the diction and syntax describing their lovemaking: lightly, lovingly, exultingly, innerly happy and unthinking and untired and unworried and only feeling a great delight and he also said my little rabbit, my darling, my sweet, my long lovely. The repetition of word structures and then sentence structures creates a catharsis. The repetition of words beginning in "l" and then "u" establish a parallel sentence structure which creates a rhythm alluding to their own physical interaction. They fall in love, these two people, one always looking ahead and the other always looking back. Through the necessity of war and the help of Pilar, they are able to learn to live in the now, and through this learning are able to grow as characters.

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