Chapter 11 Summary

Robert Jordan, Maria, and Pilar have reached the camp and are met by Joaquin, a young, friendly guard who knows the women. He determines that Robert Jordan is the dynamiter about whom they have heard so much. He flirts with Maria, recalling the time when he carried her away from the train attack when she was rescued. She does not remember him. Pilar says that Joaquin had wanted to be a bullfighter but failed.

Joaquin explains that he has been part of the Republic since he was sixteen, when he was a shoeshine boy. The Fascists have killed his parents, his sister, and her husband. When Robert Jordan responds, “What barbarians,” he marvels at the number of times he has said this on hearing similar stories. Remembering Pilar’s story of Pablo’s killing of the four guards, he wishes she could write so she could record her memories. He thinks that perhaps he will eventually write it all down. After the war, he believes he will have more perspective. He remembers a Belgian boy who had survived an attack. Afterward, all he did was cry. Pilar, however, was a psychiatrist. He looks at Maria and remembers a fantasy in which he was adored by the actresses Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo.

Joaquin begins to cry as he relates the story of his family’s death. Pilar comforts him, telling him that they are his family now. Robert Jordan agrees, but Joaquin is not comforted. They are joined by an older man. It is El Sordo, the leader of this band of guerillas. He gives them a drink, which El Sordo explains has come from the La Granja. He is very happy that Robert Jordan has come to dynamite the bridge. They discuss the troop movements and the planes. Robert Jordan suggests that they blow up the bridge that night. Although El Sordo agrees this is a good plan, it is not the plan given by the orders of his superiors. They are to wait for the attack to begin and then bomb the bridge. El Sordo asks Pilar how Pablo is. She tells him that Pablo is growing worse every day.

The group discusses where they will go after this mission. Pilar will leave Maria and Robert Jordan to go on alone. She verbally attacks Maria, referring to her as a whore, but she does not mean it. She is jealous that Maria has a man like Robert Jordan, that she is getting old, and that she cannot serve the Republic as she wishes. They all settle down to eat in preparation for what is to come.