The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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The Baron in the Trees: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For Biagio, the afternoon seems to drag on forever. He meets Cosimo in the mulberry with cake and dried figs, though Cosimo still acts betrayed. Biagio explains that he had to escape the Abbé to meet Cosimo, and Cosimo announces that he never got down. This confuses Biagio, but Cosimo talks about the D’Ondarivas’ garden and refuses to take Biagio there. To test Biagio’s loyalty, Cosimo asks Biagio to procure things like rope, nails, and planks. He insists that he doesn’t care if his parents forgive him—he’s not hiding, but he’s not coming down.
Taunting Biagio that he won’t take him to the D’Ondarivas’ garden also foreshadows the boys’ relationship in the future: though Biagio reads and is no slouch academically, Cosimo is the one who truly looks to the future by essentially becoming a lesser Enlightenment philosopher. His requests for supplies show that he’s planning to remain separated from society, which will allow him to maintain this different perspective on the world.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Baron Arminio calls for the boys and Biagio goes. He tells Cosimo that he’s going to report back on what their father says, but he’s also worried about getting caught with Cosimo. Biagio returns with the news that all is well: the table is set for tea with slices of chocolate cake on their plates. Cosimo ignores this and asks Biagio to fetch him a blanket. At dinner, the family peers outside. They can just see Cosimo’s legs dangling from the oak. The cavalier avvocato makes odd comments in Turkish, and Battista seems perturbed that she’s not the one keeping the family on edge. The Generalessa talks about soldiers keeping watch, which calms her.
Sticking so close to home so that Baron Arminio and the Generalessa can see him is a way for Cosimo to show his parents that he’s stubborn and has some degree of power over them, despite being a child. This somewhat immature view shows that Cosimo is still very much a naïve and stubborn child; he doesn’t yet have the maturity or the experience to rationally defend his choice to take to the trees.
Themes
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
After dinner, the family goes to bed. The Generalessa and Baron Arminio decide to ignore Cosimo in the hope that the cold and discomfort will bring him down. Biagio looks outside and strains his ears to hear the sea. He wonders what it would sound like without walls to muffle it. Biagio doesn’t turn out the candle in his room and feels as though he’s experiencing the joy of being in a warm bed for the first time. He also senses Cosimo’s discomfort outside and falls asleep caught between these two thoughts.
Biagio’s experience of being aware of what it feels like to be in bed for the first time suggests that Cosimo’s choice will have consequences for everyone, and will bring everyone opportunities to gain a new perspective on life. In this sense, Cosimo is already spreading his ideas and his burgeoning personal philosophy.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
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