Chapter 17 Summary
After Pablo leaves, the others talk about what to do with him. Pilar tells Robert Jordan that now he has seen how Pablo truly is. Robert Jordan asks what he will do, and Pilar tells him that Pablo is capable of doing anything. Robert Jordan asks where the automatic rifle is; it is wrapped in a blanket in the corner. Pilar says that Pablo would not touch the rifle—bombs are more his style.
Rafael says that it was idiocy and weakness in Robert Jordan to not kill him the previous night. Pilar states that she is now in favor of Pablo being killed, as is Agustin. Each person is given a chance to give his opinion. Only Fernando asks if it is possible to hold him as a prisoner. This is impractical because it would take two men to stand guard over him, and they do not have the extra men. Rafael suggests selling him to the Fascists, but this idea is distasteful to everyone. Pilar warns them that if they keep on talking they will give Pablo the opportunity to destroy them all. Rafael then suggests turning Pablo over to El Sordo and having him sell Pablo to the Fascists. Pilar tells him to shut up, that she is feeling against him now too. Primitivo says that the Fascists will pay nothing and will shoot whomever hands Pablo over to them as well. In the end, everyone agrees that Pablo presents a significant danger to the Republic and must be killed. Robert Jordan volunteers to do it. Maria agrees, but Pilar tells her that she has no voice in this matter. Robert Jordan says he will kill Pablo that night.
The blanket covering the entrance is lifted and Pablo enters. Everyone stops talking. He grins and asks if they were talking about him. No one answers. He tells Maria to get him some wine. Robert Jordan pulls Agustin to one side and warns him to be careful about provoking Pablo. They return to the group, where Pablo is saying that the snow is decreasing. He then tells the group that he is now in favor of dynamiting the bridge. Pilar guesses that he had overheard their plotting to kill him. He says that previously he had been drunk but now has changed his mind. Agustin goes outside, despite the storm, because he says he cannot stay in this insane asylum.