The epigraph in Anna Karenina didn’t make a lot of sense when we first read it. In fact, it wasn’t really relevant until midway through the novel. Only once the plot had progressed did the epigraph unlock an underlying theme. The epigraph in For Whom the Bell Tolls is applicable at the very beginning of the novel. For starters, the mention of the bell, which I assumed to mean a funeral bell, brings the theme of death to the forefront of the reader’s mind before the first chapter even starts. Once the story begins, the theme of death is clearly relevant as we enter in the middle of a guerilla war, where death is everywhere. However, in war, a person’s death is caused by the actions of another person, whereas the epigraph did not indicate the nature of death. Death at the hand of another person versus death by natural causes is very different, and has a different impact on those around us.
So far, the epigraph is clearly related to what we have read, but there seem to be many contradictions. The idea of an individual as being connected with the entirety of mankind is an interesting concept for a book about war. On one hand, the wellbeing of an individual is seen as less important than the wellbeing of the group, as demonstrated by Robert Jordan. Although he does not seem that enthusiastic about blowing up the bridge, he is willing to risk his life to follow orders because he knows that his actions will help the fellow troops on his side. Pablo takes the opposite approach when he refuses to assist in blowing up the bridge because doing so will force him to abandon his home or risk being hunted down. The connection between one individual’s actions and the greater good of a group is very clear. However, the epigraph does not talk about only one side of a war, but humanity as a whole. That means the opposing soldiers are equally connected to each other as they are to their fellow countrymen, and all should mourn the death of one. If all of humanity is linked, every...
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