Robert Jordan is an American in the International Brigades who travels to Spain to oppose the fascist forces of Francisco Franco. As an experienced dynamiter, he was ordered by a communist Russian general to travel behind enemy lines and destroy a bridge, with the aid of a band of local antifascist guerrillas. In their camp, Robert Jordan encounters María, a young Spanish woman whose life had been shattered by the execution of her parents and her rape at the hands of the Falangists (part of the fascist coalition) at the outbreak of the war. His strong sense of duty clashes with both guerrilla leader Pablo's unwillingness to commit to an operation that would endanger himself and his band, and his newfound lust for life arises out of his love for María. However, when another band of antifascist guerrillas led by El Sordo are surrounded and killed, Pablo decides to betray Jordan by stealing the dynamite caps, hoping to prevent the demolition. In the end Jordan improvises a way to detonate his dynamite, and Pablo returns to assist in the operation after seeing Jordan's commitment to his course of action. Though the bridge is successfully destroyed, Jordan is maimed when his horse is shot out from under him by a tank. Knowing that he would only slow his comrades down, he bids goodbye to María and ensures that she escapes to safety with the surviving members of the guerillas. He refuses an offer from another fighter to be shot and lies in agony, hoping to kill an enemy officer and a few soldiers before being captured and executed.