Places: For Whom the Bell Tolls

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1940

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Impressionistic realism

Time of work: 1937

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedBridge

Bridge. For Whom the Bell TollsStrategic target of the Republican offensive and the objective of Jordan’s mission. Pablo opposes the attack on the bridge because he knows that it will provoke retaliation by the fascists, but the other guerrillas eventually agree to support Jordan. Once the Republican bombardment begins, Jordan, with help from the guerrillas, destroys the bridge with explosives.


Comandancia. Headquarters of Commissar André Marty, a paranoid and demented old fanatic who delays the delivery to General Golz of Robert Jordan’s warning that the Republican attack is expected by the fascists.


Escorial. Site of the headquarters of Republican general Golz, who orders Jordan to blow up a bridge behind enemy lines.

La Granja

La Granja. Village near Pablo’s camp where the guerrillas obtain supplies and news.


Hilltop. Location where El Sordo and his men are trapped and finally killed by the fascists. The desperate courage of the guerrillas is futile in the face of the advanced weaponry brought against them in the form of the fascist airplanes.

Hotel Gaylord

Hotel Gaylord. Madrid building used as a headquarters by the Soviet agents who effectively control many aspects of the Republican struggle against the fascists. Jordan finds the Gaylord to be not only a place that provides comforts difficult to find elsewhere but also a place where he can discover the truth about what is happening behind the scenes in the ongoing struggle.

Maria’s village

Maria’s village. Place where the Falangists savagely execute the local Republicans and their sympathizers, including Maria’s parents. The brutality displayed here balances that described earlier in which Republicans led by Pablo engage in mindless cruelty.


*Montana. Jordan’s home state in the United States. References to Jordan’s boyhood and family past become increasingly conspicuous as the narrative develops, and his preoccupation with his grandfather’s heroic career as a soldier and his father’s suicide finally are revealed to be shaping influences on him. Allusions to the massacre of George Armstrong Custer and his men at the Little Big Horn in Montana, also foreshadow Jordan’s own final confrontation of overwhelming forces, while echoing the earlier annihilation of El Sordo and his men.


*Segovia. Town in central Spain to the north-northwest of Madrid that is the military objective of the attack by the Republicans upon the fascist forces.


*Valencia. City on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Pilar reminisces about a delightful visit there in the days before the war, when she was the mistress of the bullfighter Finito.

BibliographyBloom, Harold, ed. Ernest Hemingway. New York: Chelsea House, 1985. Although no essay in this collection deals exclusively with For Whom the Bell Tolls, the novel is mentioned in many of them. Of particular interest may be Robert Penn Warren’s discussion of irony in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Includes a good index.Josephs, Allen. “For Whom the Bell Tolls”: Ernest Hemingway’s Undiscovered Country. New York: Twayne, 1994. Considers the literary and historical context for the novel and gives a detailed reading. An interesting and accessible discussion. Includes an excellent annotated bibliography.Reynolds, Michael. “Ringing the Changes: Hemingway’s Bell Tolls Fifty.” Virginia Quarterly Review 67 (Winter, 1991): 1-18. In this good general reference, Reynolds presents the novel in historical context and suggests ways in which it can be seen to transcend its own time.Rovit, Earl, and Gerry Brenner. Ernest Hemingway. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1986. Focuses on the totality of Hemingway’s fiction rather than on individual works. A useful and accessible source, with fairly detailed explication of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Also includes an index.Sanderson, Rena, ed. Blowing the Bridge: Essays on Hemingway and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. A collection of twelve essays that take a fresh look at Hemingway and his most neglected major novel. The introduction gives an overview of the novel’s composition and critical reception and offers a reassessment fifty years after publication.
Categories: Places