Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 43 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pelagia hates preparing the snails. She's afraid that if she cooks them poorly then Corelli will like her less, but she receives conflicting information about how to prepare them. By the time she's ready to cook them, she's heard five different ways to do it and feels both disgusted by the snails and sorry for them. She thinks it's a cruel world in which powerful creatures survive by preying on weak creatures.
In this moment, Pelagia comes to think of the powerless people of the world as being like snails: at the mercy of powerful people, even if those powerful individuals aren't quite sure what to do with the powerless people. This allows Pelagia to humanize the weak in a way that someone like Mandras can't.
Themes
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Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
Pelagia's reverie is interrupted by Lemoni calling for Corelli. She comes every evening and tells Corelli about her day, even though Corelli still doesn't understand any Greek. Lemoni excitedly says that she found a "great big spiky rustball" on the beach and climbed on it. Pelagia translates and both Corelli and Carlo go pale: Lemoni found a mine.
The friendship between Lemoni and Corelli is another indicator that friendships are more important than nationality, language, or age. They genuinely enjoy each other despite their many differences, and Corelli's reaction shows he deeply cares for her.
Themes
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Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
The entire village goes with Corelli and Carlo to look at the mine. Carlo discovers that it's Turkish from the Great War, which Corelli says probably means the explosive material is too decayed to do much. Carlo is disappointed as he loves explosions, but Corelli says it'll still make a magnificent spectacle if Carlo fetches enough dynamite. Corelli returns to Pelagia and the villagers, asks her to warn children to not touch mysterious metal things. Then, he explains that he's going to explode the mine and needs men to dig him a trench so he can safely do so. Stamatis and Kokolios agree to do it for two chickens each.
Carlo's excitement at getting to explode the mine and enjoy the spectacle again shows that it's natural for people to be attracted to the more aesthetically pleasing parts of war, though prior events such as Velisarios's cannon shooting Mandras accidentally suggests that this explosion may also not be entirely harmless.
Themes
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Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Carlo returns with dynamite and a truckload of troops ready to enjoy the explosion. Corelli is annoyed, but Carlo says he can't move explosives alone because of the partisans. Corelli is even more annoyed when an engineer points out his trench is too close to the mine. They insult each other and Corelli threatens to press charges, but the engineer insists that dead men can't.
The fact that the troops are just as excited about the explosion as the villagers suggests that this interest in spectacle is something that crosses all sorts of lines and boundaries; in other words, the Italians and the Greeks are all human despite their differences.
Themes
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Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
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Corelli arranges the dynamite and soldiers pile up sand around the mine. Finally, Corelli gets in his trench and the villagers and soldiers head up the hill. He takes a deep breath and depresses the plunger. The mine blows straight up in the air. The shock wave hits the crowd suddenly and knocks them all down, and then wet sand and bits of metal rain down on them. Eventually they stand, unable to tell who is Greek and who is Italian. They discover that a piece of metal decapitated the engineer and only then do they start to look for Corelli. Carlo runs down to the beach and finds Corelli lying in the bottom of his trench, covered in sand and concussed. He's deaf for two days.
When the explosion makes it so the Greeks and the Italians can't tell who's who, it reinforces the novel's assertion that the Italians and the Greeks are all the same under their uniforms--they all enjoyed the explosion, and they all suffer because of it. The death of the engineer and Corelli's deafness remind the reader that nothing that has to do with war is entirely benign--there are always consequences of violence like this.
Themes
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Related Quotes
That evening, Dr. Iannis is angry and perplexed when a mass of sandy, unrecognizable people turn up in his courtyard. He loudly asks the crowd who filled his house with snails, and Pelagia is horrified to see that all her snails escaped. General Gandin later charges Corelli with acting without permission, because Axis troops swarmed to the island thinking the explosion was the work of the British.
The swarm of Axis troops to the island suggests again that there's nothing benign or innocent about what happened. A person died and many were injured, all in the name of spectacle. This offers the message that people should be skeptical of entertainment that's based on violence.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon