Daily Quote- Hemingway
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Today’s daily quote comes from For Whom the Bell Tolls. I think it aptly reflects Hemingway’s strong literary style of realism according to and dealing with death. Death is prevalent in all of Hemingway’s most popular works, and he writes it uniquely in each instance.
Here, Sordo, the leader of a group of Republican rebel fighters is trapped on a hill, surrounded by Fascists, and preparing to die. This is pretty potent stuff, and it reflects Hemingway’s skill well. It’s a long quote, but well worth the read. The part I like most is in bold.
“His head hurt very much and his arm was stiffening so that the pain of moving it was almost unbearable. He looked up at the bright, high, blue early summer sky as he raised the leather wine bottle with his good arm. He was fifty-two years old and he was sure this was the last time he would see that sky.
He was not at all afraid of dying but he was angry at being trapped on this hill which was only utilizable as a place to die. If we could have gotten clear, he thought. If we could have made them come up the long valley or if we could have broken loose across the road it would have been all right. But this chancre of a hill. We must use it as well as we can and we have used it very well so far.
If he had known how many men in history have had to use a hill to die on it would not have cheered him any for, in the moment he was passing through, men are not impressed by what has happened to other men in similar circumstances anymore than a widow of one day is helped by the knowledge that other loved husbands have died. Whether one has fear of it or not, one’s death is difficult to accept. Sordo had accepted it but there was no sweetness in its acceptance even at fifty-two, with three wounds and him surrounded on a hill.
He joked about it to himself but he looked at the sky and at the far mountains and he swallowed the wine and he did not want it. If one must die, he thought, and clearly one must, I can die. But I hate it.”
Sordo’s stoic acceptance of death is portrayed expertly by the author; it seems almost too real to believe. The defeat and hopelessness of the situation is palpable. It’s equally impressive that this grave sentiment is conveyed powerfully in this passage without a sickening amount of description.
God Save The Books,