The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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The Baron in the Trees: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One day, while Cosimo is in the middle of a game with poor children, Baron Arminio rides up. It’s the first time they’ve really seen each other since the day Cosimo climbed up, and they both know now that the snails had nothing to do with it. Baron Arminio spits that Cosimo is making a scene, but Cosimo points out that he can still be a gentleman from the trees. In a tired voice, Baron Arminio asks Cosimo to come back down, but Cosimo refuses. Cosimo gives a little when he insists that he doesn’t have to stop learning just because he’s in the trees, but Baron Arminio points out that even a small rebellion can change everything. Cosimo cries that he can pee farther from the trees. His father points to the sky as it begins to rain and shouts that God can pee on everyone.
For Baron Arminio, Cosimo’s rebellion makes it seem even less likely that he’ll ever get the local dukedom, as his family is now behaving strangely and not in a way befitting a duke. Cosimo’s insistence that he can still be a gentleman from the trees, however, shows that he doesn’t want to give up on civilization entirely. Rather, he wants to take the best parts of society and apply what he’s learning about the world from the trees to it.
Themes
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Biagio worries about Cosimo in the rain. The Generalessa initially insists that Cosimo will be fine, but when Biagio suggests taking him an umbrella, she sends him out laden with warm apple syrup and an oilcloth. Biagio locates Cosimo in the trees and the two boys struggle to get the packages into the crude tent. They abandon patching leaks and bury themselves in a pile of blankets. Cosimo swears Biagio to secrecy about the location of his tent, and Biagio asks about Viola. Cosimo darkly says that he’d let Viola come up, but she left. He insists that Viola isn’t his girlfriend.
This tender moment between the boys suggests that Cosimo’s ascent to the trees won’t meaningfully impact how close they are going forward. This moment shows that it’s possible for the boys to continue to express interest in one another, though Cosimo’s unwillingness to talk about Viola much indicates that he’s growing up and is still separating himself from his family in this regard.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The next day, Baron Arminio sends the Abbé Fauchelafleur to find Cosimo and give him a Latin lesson. An hour later, Cosimo perches in an elm tree and Biagio plays nearby to watch. After a while, Cosimo helps the Abbé into the tree to help him with a difficult passage. At some point, Cosimo abandons his tutor. When the Abbé realizes he’s alone, he fearfully shouts for help.
This passage shows that of all things, Cosimo’s education doesn’t have to suffer as a result of climbing into the trees. Getting the Abbé to follow him up, meanwhile, foreshadows Cosimo’s later role as a teacher who spreads Enlightenment ideas—which are somewhat scary for the Abbé.
Themes
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon