Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Carlo and Francisco don't report back to Colonel Rivolta after destroying the watchtower. They often talk about it with each other and feel so betrayed that they make a pact that one of them must kill Colonel Rivolta. Carlo wants to desert, but he ends up being called with Francisco to train Albanians in the art of sabotage and fabricating "Greek incidents," something both of them are unqualified to do. The Albanians don't want to learn, either. When the Albanians released into Greece, they disappear.
The mention that Carlo and Francisco are unqualified to train the Albanians reminds the reader that there's nothing logical about the way that Mussolini is commanding his troops or conducting his war; it's fundamentally absurd and he's willing to go to ridiculous lengths to get what he wants. It's also important to note that those lengths don't even work; his power doesn't go that far.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
After Francisco and Carlo return to the Julia Division, several other things happen that Carlo recognizes now were Italian attempts to sow discord between Greece and Albania. After the Governor-General has his own offices blown up, Mussolini declares war. By this time, the Italian forces have few troops, not enough weapons, and no knowledgeable officers. Higher-ups tell the men that Greece will fall in two weeks.
The insistence that Greece will fall in two weeks is another instance in which Mussolini attempts to create the reality he'd like to see. Carlo's observations about the state of the troops, however, suggests that in war, it's not enough to simply say things and hope they come true; success is contingent on supplies and knowledge.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
At the end of October, the Italian troops are happy to be at war. Francisco says again and again that they'll be in Athens in two weeks. Then, it starts to rain. The heavy guns sink into the mud and Mussolini refuses to send winter clothing. The Albanian troops disappear and the guns rust, but the Italian troops remain hopeful since the Greeks haven't attacked yet. Carlo notes that he hates puttees; they hold onto mud and his feet become soft and flaky. He and Francisco loot a Greek house and steal warm socks, but then they cross two rivers and begin climbing into the mountains. The soaking puttees freeze, making them heavy and cutting off circulation. Francisco says they'll be in Athens in two months.
Again, Mussolini insisting that his troops can make this work in inclement weather isn't actually enough to override the realities his troops face. This shows that for those soldiers on the ground who have to put up with these misguided beliefs and policies, it quickly becomes clear that Mussolini has no idea how war actually works and instead is just trying to create his desired reality. The puttees act as a symbol for the way that going to war like this actively destroys the men.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
On November 1, a sniper kills a corporal. The Greeks hide in the trees and throw bombs at the Italians, killing many. They continue to trap the Italians and pick them off at their leisure. Francisco begins saying they'll be in Athens in two years. The horses die as the Italians are commanded to head back from whence they came--now, they have to fight the Greeks that are behind them. An Italian bomber mistakenly drops a bomb near the Italian soldiers. The food runs out and the soldiers sleep huddled together for warmth. The Greeks continue to kill Italians and Francisco seems on the verge of madness. Carlo notes that war is a wonderful thing, but only in movies and books.
The errant Italian bomb shows once again that the Italians have no idea what they're doing or where they are--in other words, it's nearly impossible for any of the Italians to make appropriate decisions given how little they know about what's actually going on. When Mussolini or the other officers don't step in to try to rescue the soldiers, it implies that they don't recognize the soldiers' humanity and right to live through this.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
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