Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Carlo visits Francisco's mother in April. She asks if he died on a good day, and Carlo tells her he did. He tells the reader that Francisco died when the snow was melting and revealing dead bodies. Francisco's mother asks if he died in victory. Carlo says he did, but the truth is that the Greeks were slaughtering them. He tells her that Carlo died happy, but this is also a lie. Francisco discovered gangrene on his leg, gave Mario to Carlo, and stepped out of a trench. A mortar shell fell next to him and when the dust cleared, Carlo saw him still moving.
Carlo paints a scene of horror as he explains what happened, but he also nods to the importance of telling a story that's going to make someone feel better when he lies to Francisco's mother. This suggests that the horror of the war is something that Carlo is going to have to carry himself; like his sexuality, it's not something that someone who hasn't been there can understand.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Francisco's mother asks if he died quickly and painlessly. Carlo says he died of a bullet through the heart. In truth, Carlo climbed out of the trench and went to Francisco. Half of his head was blown away, but he was alive. Carlo picked him up and the Greek soldiers cheered. Back in the trench, Francisco held on for two hours. Carlo confessed his love for Francisco, and Francisco said he knew. Francisco's mother asks for his last words, which Carlo says were the name of the Virgin. Francisco's real last words were reminding Carlo of their pact to kill Rivolta and to ask for Mario. Francisco clenched the mouse so tightly in his hand that Mario died.
The fact that Francisco's dying words are to remind Carlo to kill Rivolta suggests that Francisco has been corrupted by the war and now can only think of the destruction, not anything good in life. Though it's understandable in his situation, it also makes his death seem even more tragic as it suggests that Francisco has already lost an important part of his humanity long before actually dying.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Francisco's mother asks where he's buried. Carlo tells her he's on a beautiful mountain, but he actually buried Francisco in their trench with Mario in his breast pocket. She hopes that he died for a reason, and Carlo assures her he did. He tells the reader that the Italians were saved only when the Germans arrived. Carlo kissed Francisco before he died and didn't participate in conquering Greece after that. Instead, he shot himself in the thigh.
When Carlo shoots himself to get out of fighting, it shows the lengths that soldiers will go to as they attempt to escape the war. This shows that both the war itself and the ways to get out of it are horrific, shocking, and dehumanizing. The only beauty Carlo experiences is kissing Francisco as he dies.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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