Chapter 18 Summary
With Pablo’s change of mind concerning the mission to blow up the bridge, Robert Jordan feels as if he is on a merry-go-round, and not a pleasant one. There are no prizes, and no one would choose to go on this ride. When it is over, you are right back where you started.
As the storm dies down, Robert Jordan works on his plans to blow up the bridge. When he finishes, he regrets ever having wasted time on Pablo. His meeting Maria has changed everything. He contemplates going to Madrid after the war for a few days’ vacation. He thinks of staying at the Florida Hotel and dining at Gaylord’s, where many Russian expatriates hang out. When he first joined the guerrilla forces, it was at Gaylord’s that he gained insider information that led to his becoming a demolitions expert. Many of the Spanish leaders of the Republic were trained in the Soviet Union. He learned that many of them were not peasants as they pretended to be. He reflects that, if the Republican troops were indeed led by peasants, they would all be like Pablo and good for nothing. Still, the leaders’ attempts to deceive their followers as to their true origin bothered Robert Jordan.
Robert Jordan thinks about taking Maria to Gaylord’s and realizes that this would be impossible. He would get a separate room for her at the Florida. He would go to Gaylord’s on his own and then come back to her. He thinks of Karkov, the Soviet journalist he met at Gaylord’s. Karkov had a wife, perhaps another one, and a mistress. All were agreeable women, which showed Karkov’s excellent taste in ladies. Karkov had been responsible for some of the Russians in Madrid. If the city fell to the Fascists, Karkov was to kill them. He would make sure that the bodies could not be identified as Russians. This reminds Robert Jordan of an attack on Madrid. He was pulling a body out of a car. When the man’s comrade told him to go help a third man, a British economist interrupted him. Robert Jordan was not impressed by the man’s airs. Karkov had told him about the economist previously. Karkov had also suggested that Robert Jordan should write more. He read the one book he had published and liked its style. Robert Jordan planned to write another book when the war was over.