The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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The Baron in the Trees: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Battista makes the final attempt to capture Cosimo by smearing his favorite tree in sticky birdlime one night. In the morning she finds stuck birds, but not Cosimo. Everyone, including Baron Arminio, begins to believe that Cosimo is in the trees for good. Baron Arminio stops going out in public, as he fears for his dignity and his prospects of becoming a duke now that his heir lives in the trees. Biagio notes that this was a silly worry, as Ombrosa’s residents laugh at Baron Arminio’s requests to be made the duke. Most nobles in Ombrosa don’t care about the duchy—life is cheap and pleasant with no monarch, and most don’t care that the D’Ondarivas own most of the land. This doesn’t stop Baron Arminio from presenting himself to the people every time there’s a tax riot. Every time, the people throw rotten lemons at him.
The Baron Arminio continues to demonstrate that he’s not with the times and never will be. While Cosimo’s choice to live in the trees represents a step into both the future and the present, Baron Arminio’s attempts to secure the duchy for himself read as embarrassingly backwards and suggest he’s not entirely aware of how to exist in his present—something that, it could be argued, is far more embarrassing than Cosimo’s choice to live in the trees. Battista’s attempt to capture Cosimo by trapping him like this, meanwhile, also reads as shockingly backwards and anti-nature.
Themes
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 is also paranoid about the Jesuits, whom he believes are out to get him after a quarrel over some land. This is why he chose the Abbé Fauchelafleur as the family’s spiritual leader—he’s a Jansenist. The only person Baron Arminio trusts is the cavalier avvocato. Biagio notes that he and Cosimo must’ve been jealous that their father seemed to love his brother more than his sons, and nobody in the family really liked the cavalier avvocato. The cavalier avvocato is indifferent to everyone and everything. He says little, and it’s impossible to know any of his history or if he’s actually intelligent. He spent time in a Muslim country where he learned about hydraulics, and was then captured by the Ottomans and the Venetians. Baron Arminio paid his ransom, gave him a study, and made him keep the family’s books.
The Catholic Church as a whole didn’t like Jansenists because they don’t believe a person gets to choose to accept God or not; in other words, free will doesn’t matter as much to them. This belief that everything is already decided is likely what leads to the Abbé’s inability to follow through with anything, as whatever he does doesn’t matter much. This passage gives the reader insight into the multiple warring factions of the Enlightenment, and shows how someone like Baron Arminio can play different groups off each other for his own gain.
Themes
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
The cavalier avvocato spends little time in his study, mostly speaks in Turkish, and is either bad at keeping books or the di Rondò affairs are worse than Biagio realizes. He dresses in Turkish outfits and spends his days outside. When he is inside, he draws detailed plans for irrigation systems, and occasionally Baron Arminio joins him in the study. Always, after a few hours of being in there, Biagio hears his father yelling and sees the cavalier avvocato march quickly into the countryside. Baron Arminio always goes after him and they return after a while, Baron Arminio still talking and the cavalier avvocato hunched, silent, and with clenched fists.
Though neither Biagio nor Cosimo seem especially enamored of their father, the way Biagio describes Baron Arminio’s treatment of the cavalier avvocato suggests that Baron Arminio is overbearing and controlling in all ways. His need for everything to be perfect extends to everyone in the family, including the two people least likely to change: the cavalier avvocato and, now, Cosimo in the trees.
Themes
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon