Perhaps Hemingway understood the character of John McCain the best by depiction of Robert Jordan, the protagonist of “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” who was John McCain’s literary hero, as he said in an article in the New York Times:
“I have felt that way since I was boy of 12, reading Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ in my father’s study. It is my favorite novel, and its hero, Robert Jordan, the Midwestern teacher who fought and died in Spain, became my favorite literary hero. In the novel, Jordan had begun to see the cause as futile. He was cynical about its leadership, and distrustful of its leaders.
“But in the final scene of the book, a wounded Jordan chooses to die to save the poor Spanish souls he fought beside and for. And Jordan’s cause wasn’t a clash of ideologies any longer. ‘The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for,’ Jordan thinks as he waits to die, ‘and I hate very much to leave it.’ ”
Robert Jordan accepted himself as a man of action rather than thought, as a man who believes in practicality rather than abstract theories. He understood that the war requires him to do some things that he does not believe in. He also realized that, though he cannot forget the unsavory deeds he has done in the past, he must avoid dwelling on them for the sake of getting things done in the present.