Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 52 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Carlo tells the reader he's full of rage and tired of being a pawn in a game of powerful men. The Germans are flying in more reinforcements and he wonders if Gandin even listens to the radio. The Italians greatly outnumber the Germans and yet they've been told to surrender.
Carlo's rage stems directly from his powerlessness to do anything when things seem perfectly obvious to him: the Italians could win if they only acted. By extension, he's frustrated with the way that the Italians attempt to insist that their reality is worse than it is.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
General Gandin calls Colonel Barge to tell him that he's withdrawn infantry from Kardakata in a token of goodwill. Barge promises to help send Italian troops home and puts the phone down. He instructs a major to take troops to Kardakata.
Here, Colonel Barge shows the reader that he doesn't respect the Italians at all and is willing to play dirty in order to win. He's able to do so because he dehumanizes them.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
Corelli tells the reader that he asked Pelagia and Dr. Iannis to take care of Antonia. They put the mandolin in their trapdoor, along with writings from Carlo. Pelagia is worried and has been trying to contact partisans. At the same time, Weber feels relieved that the German reinforcements are arriving. General Gandin asked for written guarantees for his men's safety, but Weber thinks they'll teach them a lesson.
The rage that Weber feels towards Gandin in particular shows that he's moving away from valuing his friends and towards valuing strength alone. In doing so, Weber will become less human and will choose to look at strength rather than relationships.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
General Gandin asks chaplains for advice. They disagree on whether to give in or fight. Gandin fears he won't be successful in beating the Germans, though the narrator says he has enough guns to destroy them. Not long after, the chaplains speak to the boys. Carlo runs in with news that the Germans killed an Italian officer and he suggests they hold a vote. Corelli agrees and says that if they have to, they'll arrest Gandin. In the morning, Gandin does nothing. Colonel Barge, however, sends a small group to surround an Italian battery. The Italian officer surrenders and the men are sent away, believing that the Germans will let them go without a fight. The following morning, an Italian sergeant shoots his captain because he wanted to surrender, and Corelli's division points their guns towards the Germans.
Everything Colonel Barge does should be treated with suspicion, as he's attempting to lure the Italians into thinking that the Germans do value their friendships and will let them go because of it. Gandin's choice to go to chaplains instead of make a logical decision illustrates how years of being deprived of information and the ability to make decisions has turned Gandin into a person who simply can't make them anymore. The Italian way of doing things has turned him into someone ineffective, just as Mussolini was ineffective.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
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Colonel Barge receives an order from Hitler to destroy the Italian forces in Cephalonia upon telegraph receipt of a code word. It says that prisoners are to be treated as traitors. General Gandin speaks anxiously with one of his men, trying to decipher conflicting orders and figure out why the Allies won't help them. He insists that since the Germans were friends until a few days ago they can't just kill them, and explains that he's asked for someone higher up to replace Colonel Barge in negotiations to buy them more time. Meanwhile, British spies decode Hitler's order to attack Cephalonia, but the British do nothing so the Germans won't know they can decode their messages.
The British decision to not help in order to be able to trick the Germans later indicates that Greece truly isn't a country that matters to any of its allies on the international stage. Gandin's unwillingness to attack the Germans reminds the reader that he is trying to be an honorable person and do the right thing, but his unwillingness to fight Barge's nastiness with equal nastiness will be his downfall. In other words, in times like this, the only way to win is by embracing the horror of war.
Themes
War: Horror, Beauty, and Humanity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon