Ernest Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls is often called a war novel, but it would be more accurate to call it a novel about
conflicts-the many conflicts that take place within a war. The most fundamental conflict of any war is the struggle between life and death. This struggle is mirrored in the relationship between Robert Jordan and Maria. Jordan is depicted as the coldly rational soldier whose wartime work always comes first, but Maria is portrayed as a personification of the natural abundance of the living world. Jordan operates comfortably and capably in a world of death and killing, while Maria is a healer, a provider of succor and rejuvenation. Despite these differences, Jordan and Maria are drawn irresistibly to each other. Their wartime love affair shows how sex, love, and life are the counterparts (rather than the opposites) of killing, war, and death. The relationship between Jordan and Maria demonstrates how the death-force of Thanatos, as represented by Jordan, is locked in constant oppositional tension with the life-force of
Eros, represented by Maria.
Jordan's strong affinity for soldiering makes him well-suited to play the
part of Thanatos. In his conversation with General Golz, Jordan is
revealed to be a highly competent demolition expert who likes being a
guerilla soldier "very much" (7). For instance, when Jordan begins
sketching the bridge he is to demolish, he does so "quickly and happily;
glad at last to have the problem under his hand; glad at last actually to
be engaged upon it" (35). When contemplating a be...
... middle of paper ...
...erick. "Reading Hemingway Without Guilt." New York Times on the
Web 30 May 1999. 19 Nov. 2000
Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Charles Scribner's
Lewis, Robert W., Jr. Hemingway on Love. New York: Haskell House
Publishers, 1973. 153-78. Rpt. in Matuz, Roger, ed. Contemporary Literary
Criticism. Vol. 80. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993. 120-28.
Rudat, Wolfgang E.H. "The Other War in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls': Maria
and Miltonic Gender-Role Battles." The Hemingway Review Fall 1991: 8-24.
Rpt. in Matuz, Roger, ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 80.
Detroit: Gale Research, 1993. 156-59.
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