Lone Survivor

The Bell Symbol Analysis

The Bell Symbol Icon

During Hell Week—the notoriously difficult portion of Navy SEAL training—recruits are given the option of ringing a small bell. Doing so signals to the officers that the recruits have given up on becoming SEALs: they’ve finally reached a breaking point. The bell is a constant temptation for Marcus Luttrell during his SEAL training, but one which he refuses to give into. Later on in the book, after Marcus lives through the horrors of Operation Redwing, the bell takes on a new symbolic dimension: it symbolizes the life Marcus could have had had he not chosen to become a SEAL. After contemplating the bell and, implicitly, this alternate course of events, Marcus comes to a proud conclusion: as challenging as his career as a soldier has been, he wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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The Bell Symbol Timeline in Lone Survivor

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bell appears in Lone Survivor. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
...twenty men have quit, some in tears. Every time someone quits, the instructors ring a bell. Luttrell often wonders if the bell will ring for him. (full context)
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
...of Hell Week: at any time, they can opt out of training by ringing a bell. Hour after hour, men ring the bell and leave Hell Week. The recruits proceed with... (full context)
Chapter 5
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
...a particularly challenging session of log PT, the best swimmer in the group rings the bell and quits Hell Week—a shocking development. Soon after, Luttrell collapses in the middle of a... (full context)
Chapter 12
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
...Shortly afterwards, he returns to Coronado, where he conducted his BUD/S training. He finds the bell that recruits were permitted to ring during Hell Week. Seeing this bell makes him realize... (full context)