Inside the warm cave, a cantankerous Pablo, who is sitting with a group of men, announces to Jordan that he will not be involved in blowing up the bridge after all. Surprised, Jordan and Anselmo say they can carry out the mission without him. Jordan has retained some potent absinthe that he mixes with water. No, Pablo insists, the bridge is not to be blown up at all. It's too risky. Maria brings him water for his drink and Jordan tells her he would share it but it's too strong. Pablo's woman, Pilar, calls Pablo a coward and then announces that she supports the Republic. Therefore the bridge must be blown up. She is, after all, the true leader and not a coward like Pablo. The men support her and Pablo leaves in anger to visit his horses. Outside, Jordan talks with the gypsy Rafael, who is surprised that the American didn't seize the opportunity to kill Pablo.
Hemingway here juxtaposes the highly idealistic Jordan with the cowardly Pablo. On the surface, Jordan is good, while Pablo is so bad that he has to be replaced by his wife. Jordan is a foreigner who has arrived in Spain to help the people, yet Pablo will not help even his small group of men. Pablo's wife Pilar undergoes a metamorphosis in this chapter. In chapter two she was referred to as ugly and barbarous, but now in the cave's firelight she grows in stature and nobility. This is the woman who carried Maria up the mountain on her back and now, if necessary, she will carry the entire Republic even if it means the death of her man, Pablo. She feels angered by what she saw in Jordan's hand; "she put it away from her and would not let it touch her, neither her nor the Republic" (58). Pilar is tough yet gentle and does not fear death.