Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Drosoula has always been ugly, yet she married a handsome man, had a child, and hasn't become bitter in her old age. She's from Turkey; as a teenager, she and her mother were sent to Greece as part of the Lausanne settlement. Within two years, Drosoula learned Greek and married. During Mandras's absence Drosoula and Pelagia became friends. Now, Pelagia runs to her for help. Drosoula enters Pelagia's kitchen intending to hug Mandras but stops short. She leads him outside and inspects him from head to toe. She sends Pelagia for scissors and to boil water.
The Lausanne treaty provided for the protection of Orthodox Christians in Turkey and Muslims in Greece; many of those religious minorities were deported to the country where their religion was the majority due to an earlier part of the treaty. This illustrates another way in which history is truly personal, as Drosoula's life was changed in every way by being forced to move and become Greek.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Drosoula hacks away at Mandras's hair and burns the lice. She discovers eczema and infected scratches. Pelagia runs to fetch oil of sassafras and realizes that she's learned enough from Dr. Iannis to become a doctor herself. She instructs Drosoula to paint the oil on Mandras's head and bind it with cloth. They look at Mandras for a moment before Drosoula insists they attend to the rest of him. Pelagia flushes at the thought of seeing him naked, thinking that she doesn't want to marry Mandras, but doesn't want to say anything because she loves Drosoula. However, when Mandras is naked he's so emaciated she's not embarrassed. His feet are the worst, with necrotic flesh, pus, and maggots.
As Pelagia begins to think that she might be able to become a doctor, it's important to recognize that she, in important ways, dehumanizes her first patient. She's only not embarrassed by Mandras's naked body because he's so emaciated as to be barely human. It's worth noting that as a doctor, Pelagia's goal will be to recognize the humanity of all her patients so that she can properly and effectively relieve their suffering--not dehumanize them for her own comfort.
Themes
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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When Pelagia finally recovers from the stench, she instructs Drosoula to attend to the rest of Mandras's body while she deals with his feet. Fortunately, Mandras's feet aren't as bad as they seemed. The flesh is dry and the gangrene hasn't spread to the bones. Pelagia washes Mandras's feet in saltwater and then binds them in a garlic poultice. She diagnoses a number of parasites and fungal infections. When she's done, Drosoula smiles and hugs Pelagia, declaring that she's the first woman who knows anything. Drosoula suggests that Mandras is a poor fiancé and tells Pelagia it's nonsense that looks don't matter.
Drosoula's happiness with Pelagia's medical knowledge suggests that there are other women in Pelagia's village who believe that women should have knowledge and power. This marks Drosoula as an ally for Pelagia going forward as an educated woman in the world. Mandras's many medical issues illustrate one of the costs of war: it destroys his body in the name of a cause, recalling Dr. Iannis's warning to beware of noble causes.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon
The next morning, Dr. Iannis returns from the mountain and discovers Mandras in Pelagia's bed. He doesn't recognize him. Later, Pelagia tells him everything she did. He examines Mandras and then praises Pelagia, suggesting he might retire and let her be the doctor. Drosoula is thrilled to have Pelagia as a daughter soon and ignores it when Pelagia sidesteps her comment about getting married.
Dr. Iannis's support for Pelagia's possible future as a doctor again shows that Dr. Iannis believes that Pelagia is a fully capable human being in her own right, not someone lesser because she's female. Similarly, Drosoula's happiness to have Pelagia in the family suggests that others will support her independence.
Themes
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon
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