The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Baron in the Trees can help.

The Baron in the Trees: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For his entire adolescence, Cosimo does little but hunt and fish. He seems to become a lot like an animal or a tree, but Biagio thinks that it’s still clear that he’s a human through and through. Despite this, Cosimo eventually stops attending Mass and it seems like he doesn’t attend Battista’s wedding. Later, Biagio learns that Cosimo was there, watching the festivities through a window. He wonders if Cosimo regretted his choice as he sat and watched.
This idea that Cosimo spends his adolescence exploring the world around him shows that as he comes of age, he’s going to follow Rousseau’s theories of human development. At this point, Cosimo’s entire job is to figure out how his world works so that later, he’ll be able to reinsert himself and make the world a better place, using what he learned during this time.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo has the opportunity to get to know the cavalier avvocato, and he discovers that his uncle isn’t at all useless. In the summer, the cavalier avvocato goes out in the hottest part of the day. Though Cosimo usually loses track of him, he always sees bees near where his uncle disappeared. It becomes clear that the cavalier avvocato keeps beehives off the property, so that Baron Arminio can’t dip into the earnings or insert himself. Biagio notes that in any case, Baron Arminio is terrified of bees and would never allow hives near the house.
The fact that Cosimo is getting to know the cavalier avvocato shows that growing up wild like this has taught him to humanize people he might not have otherwise. This in turn makes Cosimo a more compassionate and kind person, as he recognizes that everyone deserves dignity and kindness from him.
Themes
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
One day in spring, Cosimo notes that the air is roaring with the sound of bees. He shouts for the cavalier avvocato, who calmly says the bees are swarming and fetches a pot and a pan. He bangs them together and walks behind the cloud of bees until the bees all descend onto a pomegranate tree. Cosimo sits at the top until his uncle asks him to shake the branch to dislodge the bees, which fall into the pot. After this, Cosimo and the cavalier avvocato form a kind of friendship. They also work together on hydraulic systems. The cavalier avvocato notices Cosimo drawing water from his gutter system one day, sputters excitedly in Turkish, and eventually conveys his idea of constructing a hanging aqueduct to irrigate an uncultivated part of the valley.
The beekeeping practice represents a perfect intersection of humanity and nature. The bees are something to be respected, but they also give beekeepers valuable honey and wax. In this sense, the cavalier becomes an example to Cosimo of how to interact with the natural world and with other people in a way that doesn’t entirely shut him off from people, while also doing good for the natural world he lives in.
Themes
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
The cavalier avvocato often joins Cosimo in the trees to discuss the plans. They never move on to actually building anything, and Cosimo seems relieved about this. In the present, Biagio notes that the cavalier avvocato could’ve done much more with hydraulics: he was passionate and smart, but unable to accomplish anything. Biagio suspects that his uncle could apply himself to something like beekeeping, which he did in secret, but couldn’t handle working with and being accountable to others. He often began work and directed others, but seldom showed up on the second day of work. He seemed to remember the water systems in Turkey and wanted to recreate them, but he found it impossible to do so in Ombrosa. Biagio suspects that Cosimo found their uncle instructive: he was an example of what could happen when a person separated too much from society.
Cosimo recognizes that a person’s potential doesn’t matter much if they can’t put any of those ideas into practice. In this sense, the cavalier avvocato is still useless in terms of his contributions to society, as he’s unable to finish anything that helps others. However, it’s still important for Cosimo to see and recognize that the cavalier avvocato also represents the consequences of shutting oneself off from other people. Because of what the cavalier avvocato teaches him in this regard, Cosimo is able to go on later to make his community a better place by becoming a beloved fixture in it.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Get the entire The Baron in the Trees LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Baron in the Trees PDF