Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Father Arsenios sits behind the iconostasis, thinking that the villagers don't respect him. He considers leaving to become a clerk, a fisherman, or a poet, and he begins to talk to himself. His monologue is interrupted by a cough in the body of the church. Father Arsenios goes silent and when he hears the person leave, he peeks and sees a loaf of bread. He wishes there were cheese and promptly, another villager stops to leave cheese. Slowly, the villagers leave gifts of apology. Many gifts are bottles of wine.
Father Arsenios's penchant for dramatic monologues suggests that he'd like to be more powerful than he actually is. In this way, the novel suggests that his involvement in the church actually keeps him in check rather than offering him a way to abuse the power he wants in a large-scale way--though he clearly can still abuse his power on a small scale, as evidenced by the gifts.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Father Arsenios realizes he needs to urinate. He's afraid to leave his safe spot, as it may deter people from leaving gifts. He curses the bottle of wine he drank before going out earlier, and then realizes how to fix his dilemma. Arsenios darts out, snags a bottle, drinks its contents, and urinates into the bottle. It overflows with the urine and splashes his robes, so he decides to stay behind the iconostasis until it dries.
Again, the fact that Father Arsenios doesn't want to jeopardize the possibility of more delectable gifts shows that he does want to abuse his power; he just doesn't have enough power to do anything substantial. Like Mussolini and Metaxas, he also looks ridiculous when he urinates on himself.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Velisarios arrives at the church to apologize to Father Arsenios, but Arsenios refuses to come out from behind the iconostasis. He insists he doesn't feel well, so Velisarios apologizes and goes to fetch Dr. Iannis. Meanwhile, Father Arsenios empties and fills two more bottles, becoming so drunk he passes out. Dr. Iannis arrives not long after, expecting to reprimand the priest and invite him to dinner, but Father Arsenios only moans from behind the screen.
The absurdity of Father Arsenios's drunkenness reinforces the novel's assertion that power like this is fundamentally absurd and ridiculous. The fact that Dr. Iannis needs to help Arsenios keeps the villagers from respecting Arsenios enough to afford him any more power to abuse.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
Dr. Iannis doesn't feel comfortable going behind the iconostasis despite his atheism, but he slips behind when Father Arsenios asks for help. Dr. Iannis attempts to help the priest up, but Father Arsenios is too heavy. Velisarios carries the priest to Dr. Iannis's house. It's the hardest thing Velisarios has ever done. After he finishes his task, he sits in the shade and watches Mandras flirt with Pelagia. Dr. Iannis forces Father Arsenios to drink water, chases the goat off the table, and returns to his history of Cephalonia. He writes that the crusaders originally destroyed Constantinople, not the Muslims, which he insists should make everyone skeptical of noble causes.
When Velisarios has to carry Father Arsenios to the doctor's house, it allows him to make up for rudely lifting Father Arsenios without permission and illustrates how someone who did once abuse their power can work to atone for that abuse. Dr. Iannis's note about who originally destroyed Constantinople reminds the reader that winners of a conflict are the ones who get to dictate history--and he implies, that, in this case, they flat-out lied.
Themes
Power, Reality, and Absurdity Theme Icon
History and Storytelling Theme Icon
Politics and Friendship Theme Icon
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Stamatis interrupts Dr. Iannis. He asks if Dr. Iannis can put the pea back in his ear--he can't stand his wife now that he can hear her. He says that beating her doesn't work, to which Dr. Iannis suggests that Stamatis be nice. Stamatis is shocked. Dr. Iannis watches as Stamatis leaves the house and deliberates over picking a flower, and loudly congratulates Stamatis to embarrass him when he picks it.
Dr. Iannis's suggestion shows that he believes that women are people deserving of respect and dignity, not just servants to be beat around. Stamatis's reaction to the suggestion shows that Pelagia is unique in that she was raised to think this way, as it implies that most women aren't.
Themes
Family, Opportunity, and Gender Dynamics Theme Icon