Wrapping up with Ernest
Fall is as beautiful as it is perfect for curling up with a book and a cup of tea in those elusive moments of spare time. Fall break really is a wonderful thing. This past week, I returned to my first favorite nook out of them all - my parent's screen porch couch (as I'm sure you noticed, the weather was gorgeous so staying indoors was not an option).
In sticking with Hemingway for yet another week (who knew I had it in me), my struggle with this slow-paced action narrative has finally subsided and the pessimistic premonitions fulfilled...
Robert Jordan blew the bridge at a heavy cost to his guerrilla allies. They lose several men almost immediately from altercations with fascists guards and trouble with a faulty detonator, including Jordan's closest companion of the group, Anselmo. This man was one of my favorite characters out of this group of mountain inhabiting nationalists and embodied all the innocence of a person who manages to resist the moral corruption of war. Even when we are first introduced to Anselmo as Jordan's guide to the guerrilla camp, we recognize his gentle nature from the little he lets on about himself. He admits that he believes there is nothing worse than ending the life of another human being, expect the sadistic person who enjoys it. And yet, despite the things he sees other people do, no matter how atrocious the deed, Anselmo never loses faith that there is good in people. He serves as Jordan's moral compass, often reflecting the thoughts that Jordan has himself, and sometimes reassuring him inadvertently when Jordan starts to doubt what he's doing.
"To kill [our enemies] teaches nothing. You cannot exterminate them because from their seed comes more with greater hatred. Prison is nothing. Prison only makes hatred. That all our enemies should learn." (467)
Besides the tragedy of Anselmo's swift death, Jordan and the rest of the group start to make their escape up to the mountain with the fascists nipping at their heels when his horse is shot out from under him, crushing his leg. Knowing he'll only worsen everyone's chances of survival if he tries to go on, he demands to be left behind with a machine gun in an effort to buy them as much time as he can. Maria ("rabbit"), the guerrilla woman he fell in love with, is devastated for having to leave him, but Jordan comforts her with the promise that their love is stronger even than death.
"You will go now, rabbit. But I go with you. As long as there is one of us there is both of us." (817)
The novel ends just as Jordan is taking aim at the fascist officer slowly moving into his line of vision.
And once again, Ernest got me all involved and mushy for his characters only to pull the emotional rug out from under me. But I'll try not to hold it against him - I've still got one short story left in my Barnes & Nobles Hemingway anthology.