Chapter 15 Summary

Anselmo stands on the downwind side of a tree, trying to stay warm during the snowstorm. He has seen nothing unusual and considers returning to the cave. It is getting colder, and he must leave soon or he will freeze. As he waits, he hears the sound of a motorcar. It is camouflaged and carries a member of the general staff of the Fascist party, but he does not know this. He simply marks down the car as Robert Jordan instructed him. He has not differentiated between the military cars and the civilian, which Robert Jordan probably would have appreciated. All Anselmo has is the number of cars that have passed on the road.

It is now so cold that Anselmo considers that he must go back to the cave before nightfall. He has no fear of getting lost, but he is concerned that Robert Jordan will do so if he comes to get him. He abides by his orders until further notice. He watches the sawmill and contemplates the warmth that is enjoyed by the men inside. He remembers the first time that he killed a man, in Otero. Pablo threw bombs inside the room where the men were sitting. This was in Pablo’s heyday, which has now ended.

Inside the sawmill, the soldiers discuss the May snowstorm. They talk of their part in the war, especially their current guard duty. They would not mind staying in this spot, but they would like shorter rotations. They are confident that their side will win.

Back at the tree, Anselmo hopes that he does not have to kill anyone. He regrets not being able to say prayers now that he has lost his faith. He thinks there must be some type of confession after the war so he can achieve some type of civic cleansing. He is glad that his wife died before the war began, and he regrets not having had children. He experiences intense loneliness, especially in the nighttime.

Robert Jordan and Fernando (the man who comes with him in place of Rafael) come to get Anselmo. They take him back to the cave, to warmth and food. Anselmo tells Robert Jordan that there has not been much action. Anselmo is glad he stayed at his post. Fernando is very quiet. Robert Jordan asks him what he is thinking about. Fernando replies that he is thinking of supper, eager even for Pilar’s “average” cooking. Robert Jordan considers him a second Calvin Coolidge because of his lack of communication.