Chapter 43 Summary
As Robert Jordan waits above the bridge, he wonders if Andres made it through to Golz with the dispatch. He chides himself for never thinking he will win, but in his heart he knows this operation will ultimately fail in its larger purpose. Soon he hears the sound of bombs, which is the signal to begin the destruction of the bridge. He shoots one sentry and Anselmo shoots the other.
Climbing into the framework under the bridge, Robert Jordan carefully places the explosives, cursing Pablo for throwing away the detonator. The grenades he is forced to use to set off the dynamite will mean he cannot detonate them from as great a distance as he wants. Pilar leads her group down to Robert Jordan. Eladio is not with them (he was shot in the head), and Fernando has been fatally shot in the groin. Fernando tells them to leave him behind with a rifle. He knows he is dying, but he will provide one last service for the Republic.
Robert Jordan tells Anselmo to blow up the bridge if the tanks come even if Robert Jordan is still beneath it. Anselmo feels no fear now, but he regrets having to kill the sentries. Pilar curses Robert Jordan for taking so much time setting the explosives, but Anselmo calms her. When he sees the trucks coming down the road, he sets off the explosives and the bridge collapses in the middles. A large chunk of metal hits Anselmo, and the old man dies.
Joining Pilar, Robert Jordan rages against Pablo for throwing away the detonator. If he still had it, Anselmo would not have been too close to the explosion and died. Pilar eventually calms him and they join the others. Pablo comes up alone with the horses, chased by a tank. The others fire briefly on the tank to distract it, and Pablo gets away. It is suspected that he killed his extra men to get their horses, and he does not deny it. Robert Jordan mounts the grey horse of the soldier he killed the preceding day. As they ride up the mountains, the Fascists follow and shoot Robert Jordan’s horse. The horse falls on Robert Jordan and breaks his leg. It is severe enough that Robert Jordan knows he cannot follow the others. Bidding Maria good-bye, he tells her he cannot go with her to Madrid but that he will always be with her. They leave and Robert Jordan waits for the Fascists to arrive. When they do, he sees they are led by Lieutenant Berrendo, who ordered the decapitation of El Sordo and his men. Robert Jordan waits for them to get close enough that he can fire on them; he feels his heart beating against the floor of the forest.