Chapter 19 Summary

Maria sees Robert Jordan sitting quietly and asks him what he is doing. He says that he has been thinking, not of the bridge but of her and a hotel in Madrid. She asks him if there are many Russians in Madrid, and he says there are very few. Maria objects, saying that the fascist periodicals say there are hundreds of thousands there, but Robert Jordan says these are lies.

Maria says she liked Kashkin, the Russian she had most recently known, though she does not remember him well. All she remembers is that he was beautiful and brave. Pilar says he was not beautiful at all, while Robert Jordan says that he was a great friend. Pilar points out that Robert Jordan shot Kashkin. All the others stop what they are doing and stare at Robert Jordan, who now wishes that he had not told this to Pilar while they were at El Sordo’s. He says that he shot Kashkin at his own request because he was badly wounded. Rafael, on hearing of the manner of Kashkin’s death, said that the Russian had mentioned this possibility several times when he was in the camp. Rafael had promised to shoot him if came to that point. Andres, one of the other men, asks Robert Jordan if he believes it is possible to know of his impending death. The American does not believe this or any other superstition.

The talk turns to Pilar’s ability to read people’s fortunes in their palms. Robert Jordan is deaf to all this possibility, she says, and she is convinced she saw death in Kashkin’s face. What is more, she smelt the smell of death. She tells about a matador that she knew on whom a certain Blanquet smelled death. No one believed him but the matador died in the bull ring. Robert Jordan asks Pablo what he thinks about this. Pablo is uncertain, though he does know that Pilar can tell certain forthcoming events.

Fernando asks Pilar what death smells like. She says that first he must imagine the smell of the hold of a ship locked up for a storm. Then imagine the breath and taste of the mouths of old women who drink the blood of the animal sacrifices. Next he should think of the smell of a bucket full of dead flowers. Next go to the place where homeless prostitutes sell themselves, lying on dead flower beds, and smell the scent of the wet earth, the dead flowers, and the sex. All this is the smell of death. Pilar says Kashkin smelled like this when she saw him. Robert Jordan says that it is then a good thing that he shot him. He goes to the cave entrance, looks out, and announces that the storm is over.