Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dr. Iannis is lost in thought about goats, as it's nearly time to head up the mountain to check on Alekos and his flock. He thinks that the goats are determined to keep him from his literary pursuits. He quotes a line by Homer about marriage and thinks it has nothing to do with the Venetian occupation, which is what he wanted to write about. He thinks that since Mandras left, Pelagia has been emotionally unwell. She's anxious, panicky, and then calm. She suddenly picks up her bedcover and works on it furiously, and then rips it apart with just as much ferocity.
Again, when Dr. Iannis finds himself writing about marriage and thinking about Pelagia and Mandras, it reinforces the novel's assertion that his history isn't going to be impartial and indifferent; rather, it's going to be able to tell the reader what life has actually been life for Greek people--and this includes discussing marriage and how the war affects Pelagia's impending marriage.
Themes
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon
It's clear that Mandras won't write and Dr. Iannis knows that Pelagia is becoming bitter and believes Mandras doesn't love her. He sends her on tasks designed to tire her out and then he does his best to make her laugh and provoke her rage in turn by stealing the olive oil or moving the knives. Shockingly, the "treatment" for her depression works. Dr. Iannis is glad on one hand, as he didn't think Mandras suitable, but he also knows that breaking the engagement would be disastrous for her. He guiltily hopes that Mandras dies.
Here, Dr. Iannis betrays that he's just as trapped by social conventions surrounding gender roles as Pelagia is, given that he knows he doesn't have the power to save her from her unsuitable marriage. His guilty hope that Mandras will die shows that it's possible to prioritize politics and war for one's own means, but in doing so, one has to become cruel and uncaring.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon
To make matters worse, Dr. Iannis is running short on supplies. Fortunately, people don't seem to be as sick now. He often shows up and just looks solemn while examining people, and he comes to think of himself as a priest of the body. Both he and Father Arsenios have become increasingly important figures. Dr. Iannis hears Pelagia singing and writes that Greece is situated at the very center of the world: it lies halfway between east and west and has been occupied mostly by Turks and Venetians. The Italian influence is obvious in Cephalonia's language and architecture. Dr. Iannis admires his work, moves the knives to anger Pelagia, and leaves for the kapheneia.
It's worth noting that Dr. Iannis and Father Arsenios become important figures because they were powerful before this time of need. However, neither man actually wants to take over the village or Greece; they simply want to help their village feel better. In this way, the novel offers the two men as examples of what a person should do with power: use it to help others.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon