Call Me By Your Name


André Aciman

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Themes and Colors
Identity and Attraction Theme Icon
Pain, Heartbreak, and Regret Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Maturity Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Time and Anticipation Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Call Me By Your Name, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Identity and Attraction

In Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman implies that romantic attraction often involves a recognition of oneself in someone else. As seventeen-year-old Elio experiences his first serious relationship, he finds himself drawn to the ways he and Oliver are the same. After all, they’re both Jewish, both interested in the life of the mind, and both attracted by similar physical features. These similarities are especially significant for Elio, since he’s in the midst…

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Pain, Heartbreak, and Regret

Throughout Call Me by Your Name, Aciman presents emotional pain as valuable, inevitable, and worth experiencing. Because the circumstances of Elio and Oliver’s relationship make it difficult for them to sustain their romance, Elio understands from the beginning that he’s destined for heartbreak. Throughout the summer, he becomes more and more infatuated with Oliver, all the while knowing that he’ll eventually leave for good. This is partially why he doesn’t pursue Oliver at…

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Coming of Age and Maturity

Because Elio is such an intelligent and sophisticated narrator, it’s easy to forget that he’s too young to engage in a love affair with a twenty-four-year-old man. Elio’s assessment of his relationship with Oliver is so mature that the age difference between them often seems arbitrary or irrelevant. At the same time, though, Aciman is no doubt aware of the tension caused by the fact that Elio is a minor, something that not only adds…

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Language and Communication

Aciman’s novel showcases the significance of language in fraught relational contexts. Especially in the initial stages of his relationship with Oliver, Elio desperately scrutinizes the language he and his lover use, often obsessing over how Oliver has worded a phrase or how he has handled himself in a conversation. He pays such close attention to these nuances because they provide him with the only chance he has to express his feelings. Unfortunately, though, he…

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Time and Anticipation

Throughout Call Me by Your Name, anticipation is often cast as unbearable and torturous. This is because Elio doesn’t know whether or not something romantic will happen between Oliver and himself. Although there are a number of indications that they will develop a loving relationship, their future remains unclear for the entire first half of the novel. During this time, Elio is tormented by the way time moves—he knows Oliver will soon be gone…

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