Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 30 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Though the cities of Argostoli and Lixouri have always been rivals, in 1941, the rivalry takes on a new tone: the Italians occupy Argostoli, while a small group of Germans occupy Lixouri. The Germans are only there to keep an eye on the Italians and the relationship between the two camps is tense; the Italians think the Germans are too serious, while the Germans think the Italians are culturally inferior. Corelli, however, becomes friends with one young German soldier, Günter Weber. Weber desperately wants to be blond, so he spends his free time on the beach hoping that the sun will bleach his hair. He only hates Jews and Gypsies because he's never met one.
This passage illustrates clearly how dehumanization functions for political purposes. The Germans feel the way they do about the Italians because they find them inferior and sub-human, while the Germans seem almost inhuman to the Italians because they're emotionless and cold. Importantly, Weber's description shows how Nazism is predicated on dehumanizing entire swaths of people and denying them personhood, as this implies that Weber wouldn't have been a Nazi had he known a Jew.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Weber sits on a rock one afternoon when the Italian truck arrives at the beach, bearing La Scala and army prostitutes. Corelli likes to bring the women to the sea to cheer them up. Weber is a virgin and desperately wants to see the naked women, so he stiffly goes to introduce himself. Carlo and Corelli introduce themselves and Carlo makes jokes about ogling the women, though he's privately uncomfortable and still grieving Francisco.
The existence of formal army sex workers suggests that someone in the Italian army recognizes that the soldiers have human needs, though the tone of the novel tends to imply that the women themselves exist in a sub-human state that only serves the soldiers. Corelli's desire to cheer them up suggests he sees them as more than that.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Corelli asks Weber if he's "descended from the great composer." Weber is offended and insists his name is Weber, not Wagner; Corelli says he was referring to the composer Carl Maria Von Weber and Wagner is a horrible musician. Corelli prompts Weber to ask if he's descended from the great composer Arcangelo Corelli, but Weber is too perplexed and offended by Corelli's jab at Wagner to play along. Corelli introduces his men by their rank in La Scala and further offends Weber by suggesting he's not German since he's from Austria, but things improve when Weber starts drinking. He enjoys a thoroughly pleasant afternoon and drunkenly joins La Scala, which means he agrees to never praise Wagner. He's the only member who can't sing.
Corelli's clear disdain for Wagner and unwillingness to understand how the German empire functions at this point in time is a deliberate attempt to show Weber that the Nazi project is misguided and horrific. In this way, he's attempting to make Weber see that friendship and music are more important than nationality (especially when one's nationality is used as a weapon, as it is by the Nazis). The fact that Weber enjoys himself opens him up to begin to shift his views on non-Nazis.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon