For Whom the Bell Tolls Are you a communist?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

In the novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway, the character Jordan finds himself involved with a guerrilla group during the Spanish Civil War. When asked if he is a communist, he responds by saying that he is anti-fascist. This prompts Pilar, one of the leaders of the group, to ask him if he has been anti-fascist for a long time.

This question from Pilar is quite significant as it reveals her curiosity about Jordan’s political beliefs and his commitment to the cause. Jordan’s response of being anti-fascist rather than a communist highlights the complexity of his character and his own unique perspective on the war.

It is important to understand the historical context of the Spanish Civil War to fully grasp the significance of Jordan’s response. The conflict, which took place from 1936 to 1939, was a battle between the democratically elected Republican government and the Nationalist forces led by General Francisco Franco. The Nationalists, backed by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, sought to overthrow the Republican government and establish a dictatorship.

During this time, various factions fought against the Nationalists, including communists, anarchists, and anti-fascist groups. While communism was one of the ideological underpinnings of the Republican cause, not everyone fighting against fascism in Spain identified as a communist. Some individuals, like Jordan, may have had different motivations or beliefs that aligned with the anti-fascist cause without subscribing to communist ideology.

Jordan’s response of being anti-fascist rather than a communist suggests that he may hold broader principles and values that transcend a specific political ideology. He may believe in the importance of defending democracy, freedom, and human rights, which are often threatened by fascist regimes. His anti-fascist stance implies that he opposes the tyranny and oppression associated with fascist ideologies, irrespective of his own political leanings.

It is also worth noting that Jordan is an outsider to Spain, an American volunteer fighting alongside the Republican forces. As a foreigner, his involvement in the conflict may not be driven by a deep-rooted ideological commitment, but rather a sense of duty or moral obligation to fight against fascism. His response to Pilar’s question reflects his personal motivations and his desire to contribute to the anti-fascist cause.

Jordan’s response of being anti-fascist rather than a communist in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” serves to emphasize his individuality and his unique perspective on the war. It showcases his commitment to fighting against tyranny and oppression, regardless of his specific political affiliation. This distinction adds depth and complexity to his character, highlighting the multifaceted nature of individuals involved in war and their motivations for fighting.