Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 35 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
An unnamed Italian pamphleteer calls readers to celebrate the achievements of Mussolini. The pamphleteer writes that Mussolini was a cruel child who tortured animals, stabbed a boy, and started visiting brothels as soon as he reached puberty. He raped a virgin and accused her of not resisting well enough, and then he became a schoolteacher. However, Mussolini developed a taste for cards, alcohol, and mistresses, and fled to Switzerland to escape military service. The pamphleteer points out that there, he encouraged soldiers to desert, which is consistent with his current demand to shoot deserters.
This pamphlet is intended to make fun of Mussolini and all the ways in which the Italian leader has abused his power for years. It later comes out that the pamphlet was written jointly by Carlo and Kokolios, who owns a press. It's worth keeping in mind that writing this pamphlet is extremely dangerous, as it gives voice to the fact that Mussolini is ridiculous and abusive, something that many know but are too afraid to say.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
The pamphleteer points out that the Duce believes his own propaganda, so of course his subjects do too. Mussolini came up with a political ideology that insists one must act and think up reasons afterwards. He wrote a novel in a style similar to Poe's, which all the publishing houses refused to publish because it was too sophisticated for them. He became an editor for a newspaper and discovered that he could create the news himself. He married his half-sister, fathered a child with her, and became known as "The Madman"--though he, of course, isn't actually mad.
Specifically, the assessment of Mussolini's political ideology (fascism) and the mention of controlling the papers suggests that Mussolini is a master of handling the aftermath of events, not actually making things go to plan. In other words, he's far more adept at altering how history is seen than at shaping his present reality.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
In 1915, Mussolini again avoided joining the war effort. He claimed that the Austrians bombed a hospital just to get at him, the most important man in Italy. Mussolini stole money to fund his campaign and since his election, he has carried out an average of five acts of political violence per year. Purportedly, he stopped a lava flow on Mt. Etna by wishing it to stop. He pretends he's not going bald and stands on a hidden stool to look taller. Mussolini is a saint; he's declared himself greater than Aristotle, Michelangelo, and Bonaparte. All of his speeches contradict each other, but that just means that everyone can find some bit of his policy to support.
The comments about Mussolini's speeches contradicting each other offer a reason why Mussolini became so powerful in the first place: he's able to rope in anyone and make them feel seen simply by saying what they want to hear. This elevates the power of the spoken and written word and shows again how stories like this are able to fundamentally shape the beliefs and realities of people.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
Mussolini has made it illegal to do many of the things he's done. He sends troops to fight invented enemies without proper equipment, despite having signed peace treaties. He mocks Hitler but takes orders from him. Italian troops are dying as the British sink their fleets, but the Italians are winning. Commanders only figure out what's going on with their divisions by listening to the BBC. The pamphleteer asks soldiers to weep for their country, which is being led by a lunatic.
This passage in particular makes it clear to the reader that leaders like Mussolini, Hector, and Hitler aren't to be taken seriously, given that they lie and fabricate events. This encourages the reader to place more stock in the stories of the "little people" like Carlo and Dr. Iannis, who actually see what's going on and have no reason to lie.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
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