The Bells are still Tolling

So, I am still only about halfway done with my Hemingway book, (For Whom the Bell Tolls).  If I did not have to read it for book club, I don’t know if I would finish it.  It is not like me to quit a book that I have started, though.  I guess the more accurate statement would be if I did not have to read it for book club I would never have started it.

It’s not that it’s terrible.  There are actually some parts that are very interesting, insights into war and revolution and how ordinary people become ruthless and violent and how soldiers are not supposed to question orders or care about themselves and the haphazardness of some ‘military operations’ like Robert Jordan’s bridge building assignment, where he is working with people living in a cave and spending his days hiking around the mountain wondering which of these hill people are reliable.

Also, he’s spending his days with his “little rabbit,” Maria.  I still don’t like that development.   At book club one of the other ladies brought up accusations that have been made against Hemingway for writing all his female characters as either total stereotypes or masculine.  this is the only Hemingway book I’ve (partially) read, so I don’t feel qualified to decide whether the criticism has merit across the board, but Maria’s character is definitely an annoying, flat female.  She has such potential to be a captivating figure, surviving the horrors and showing strength of will and  resolve either to fight for the revolution or to detest all manner of war and violence or something.  Instead she was just waiting to meet the right handsome American, apparently, and doesn’t want anything except to be his domestic servant.

Then you have Pilar who is a pretty interesting character, (I loved the chapter where she recounted the brutality that her hometown showed to the fascists at the beginning of the war, although it was a horrible tale), but who I now realize is actually pretty masculine–she’s ugly, she orders Maria around, she commands the group, she says really rude things.  So I don’t know.  I didn’t like Hemingway to being with, and now I like him a bit less, but I’ll finish the book before I decide on my final verdict for this book.


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Filed under Books, gender

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