Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Carlo Piero Guercio introduces his tale; it's meant to be read after his death so his reputation won't suffer. He explains that he's never told a doctor or a priest that he's gay--both would tell him that he's an abomination and needs to choose to be straight. Carlo says that he'd tell them that God made him the way he is, and says that God should be blamed, not him. Carlo says he feels like a spy who must keep this secret, and the weight of it is crushing: he desperately wants to love someone, but nobody will accept it.
Like Pelagia, Carlo is also trapped by traditional gender norms simply by virtue of living in a place and a time where it's not acceptable for men to be openly gay. This suggests that both Carlo and Pelagia will suffer for not conforming to the societal ideals about what men and women are supposed to do and be.
Themes
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon
Carlo notes that according to Dante, gay men live in the Seventh Circle of Nether Hell--yet, Dante pities him like most others don't. Carlo explains that he's read extensively looking for people like him, and he finally found himself in Plato's writing. He finds this ironic as he's currently oppressing the Greeks, the only people who were once okay with homosexuality.
When Carlo looks to literature to find himself, it again suggests that there's immense value in personal stories that are passed down. This situates Carlo's writing and Dr. Iannis's history as important literary works that tell meaningful personal stories.
Themes
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Carlo admits that he joined the army because the men are beautiful and because of Plato. He read The Symposium and was struck by the suggestion that gay men are a different sex altogether, and thought it made perfect sense when the text suggested that armies should be made up of lovers so that soldiers are honorable and brave. Carlo chose to join the army so he could find someone to love. It worked, though it also brought him grief.
Plato's suggestion that armies be made up of lovers introduces the idea that war and military life can be beautiful if one mixes those things with love and personal fulfillment. This in turn champions the power of love to help make all manner of ugly and horrific things become beautiful.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon