Ernest Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls

I love Hemingway starting from the first book of his I read. With frankness and purity he draws an honest picture of inevitability that each war consists of. Being so vivid in it’s simplicity, his stories actually resemble more of a photograph than a painted picture. Nevertheless, simplicity must not be mistakenly apprehended as incapability or inaptness. Despite being simple in his form, Hemingway’s texts have always carried deeper message, subtext that needs to be dug out between the lines.

The bridge must be blown up. This is the command and it must be followed. Being this a suicide mission or not. It has been decided by higher ranks and nothing can be changed by a mere soldier. There are no winners or losers. War is ruthless to everybody no matter which side is chosen. Yet, everybody tries to give the best they can possibly do.

To make such situation bearable, hope, love and dreams come to rescue. Live the life like it has never been lived before. Feel emotions that have never been felt before. Childish purity and virginity in the middle of bombs and death, dust and dirt. Clean white snow, that has fatal consequences to guerrillas. Warm sun and blooming spring with cold nights. Sound of planes approaching. Rattle of a machine gun.

The contrast between the two worlds, that should exist not only on different planets, but in different universes, is so vivid. As well as the horrifying fact that these two actually exist at the same spot at the same time.

Inevitability of war is clear. For a soldier, his whole life, present and future, is bound to it. If he survives current mission, he will be given a short break to recover. If not, he’s just a number in statistics. War will go on either way, reaching to an end sooner or later.

This book covers only three days. But these days are truly remarkable for a soldier. His last days, fulfilled with friendship and love, fight and betrayal, forgiveness and reconciliation. Something that gives reader a different perspective for his everyday problems, victories and losses. Under this light the inscription of the book will reveal itself from a totally different angle.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. — John Donne

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