Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At the end of Dr. Iannis's day, he sits at home and chuckles about his medical successes of the day--namely, curing old man Stamatis's earache, which Dr. Iannis discovered was the result of a pea in the ear canal. Stamatis has been deaf in this ear as long as anyone can remember. Dr. Iannis referred to the pea as an "exorbitant auditory impediment," knowing that would sound better than using simple vocabulary. Then, he instructed Stamatis's wife to fill the ear with warm water and returned in the evening to fish out the pea. The removal of the pea also cured Stamatis's deafness.  
Though it's humorous here, when Dr. Iannis uses flowery language to describe the pea knowing that it'll make him look better, he flirts with something that many other powerful leaders also flirt with: he recognizes that because he's an esteemed man, he has the power to shape reality by naming it as he sees fit.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Now, Dr. Iannis sits at his table and works on his history of Cephalonia. He struggles to write objectively and so has wasted a great deal of paper in the last year. He writes that Cephalonia "breeds babies for export;" men leave the island and return only to die. Dr. Iannis throws the paper away, frustrated, and picks up his title page. He amends his title to "A Personal History of Cephalonia" and continues to write. He writes that Odysseus's ships were from Cephalonia, and the island was once full of gods. Their worship was understandable, especially that of Apollo: he's the god of light, and the clear, bright light on the island blinds visitors for at least two days.
By changing the title to something more personal, Dr. Iannis makes another important discovery: history is actually personal, not just a sweeping and interesting story. When he chooses to make his history personal rather than impersonal, he chooses to tell a far more compelling story than he'd originally planned. By mentioning the gods, he also shows that Greeks’ lives are intrinsically tied up in the religious stories that guide them.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Dr. Iannis reads over his work, takes a break to urinate on the mint, and then returns indoors to chase his daughter Pelagia's goat away from eating his writing. He threatens to butcher the goat, but Pelagia only smiles and says that the goat is fond of him. Dr. Iannis returns to his writing, reasoning that it was probably a good thing the goat ate it. He writes that Cephalonia is stupidly situated on a major fault line and is infested with goats.
Pelagia's lack of fear when Dr. Iannis threatens to butcher the goat suggests that she's likely on more equal footing with her father than one might expect. Dr. Iannis will confirm this later and explain that he taught Pelagia to think, unlike other women of her age. This allows her to engage with him like a man might.
Themes
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon