The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò Character Analysis

Biagio and Cosimo, and Battista’s father; the Generalessa’s husband; and the cavalier avvocato’s brother. Biagio describes his father as dull, but only because Baron Arminio is focused on something that is never going to happen in his lifetime: becoming the Duke of Ombrosa. His focus on achieving the Dukedom means that he spends his time scheming and concerning himself with genealogy, neither of which gets him any closer to achieving his goals. This focus also influences how Baron Arminio manages his family: Biagio explains that he insists on forcing his sons to dress as though they are expecting an invitation to a European court any day, with few concessions to the fact that they live in a provincial area. Furthermore, the courts Cosimo suggests Baron Arminio admires were at their height years ago by the start of the novel, making the case again that Baron Arminio is stuck in a time long gone that will never return. Because of this focus on improving his family’s position, Baron Arminio is aghast when, one day, Cosimo climbs into the trees and declares that he’s not coming down. Cosimo is the future Baron di Rondò, and Baron Arminio finds it embarrassing that his firstborn son chooses to live so differently. At first he tries to keep Cosimo a secret from the wider world, but he’s ultimately unsuccessful in this endeavor. Baron Arminio eventually comes around somewhat to Cosimo’s choice to live in the trees, as he gives Cosimo his sword and reminds him of his duty at Cosimo’s 18th birthday. Baron Arminio dies not long after, after the death of the cavalier avvocato. Biagio suggests that the cavaliere’s death, combined with Cosimo’s rebellion, sent his father into a depression from which he couldn’t recover.

Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò Quotes in The Baron in the Trees

The The Baron in the Trees quotes below are all either spoken by Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò or refer to Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner edition of The Baron in the Trees published in 2017.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Now, instead, as we dined with the family, childhood’s sad chapter of daily grievances took shape. Our father and our mother were always right in front of us; we had to use knives and forks for the chicken, and sit up straight, and keep elbows off the table—endless!—and then there was our odious sister Battista. A succession of scoldings, spiteful acts, punishments, obstinacies began, until the day Cosimo refused the snails and decided to separate his lot from ours.

Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

...dull because his life was dominated by thoughts that were out of step, as often happens in eras of transition. In many people the unrest of the age instills a need to become restless as well, but in the wrong direction, on the wrong track; so our father, despite what was brewing at the time, laid claim to the title of Duke of Ombrosa and thought only of genealogies and successions and rivalries and alliances with potentates near and far.

Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

But he restrained himself, because he didn’t like repeating the things that his father always said, now that he had run away from the table in an argument with him. He didn’t like it and it didn’t seem right to him, also because those claims about the dukedom had always seemed like obsessions to him...

During Cosimo’s first meeting with Viola, the neighbor girl, Cosimo wants to impress her—but he also doesn’t want to look silly and like he’s obsessed with titles and glory, like Baron Arminio is. This challenge thus becomes a major turning point for Cosimo, as he must figure out who he wants to be when he’s on his own and not simply learning to value what Baron Arminio and the rest of Ombrosa’s nobility value. Biagio’s aside that Cosimo thinks the dukedom sounds like an obsession suggests that Cosimo is a wildly individualistic person, at least when it comes to separating his identity from his family. Were his family to acquire the dukedom, it would eventually fall to Cosimo to be the next duke—something that, even as a child, Cosimo knows he’s not interested in doing. Even this early on in the novel, then, it’s clear that Cosimo is willing to risk angering his family and alienating himself from them if it means he is able to form his own identity and live authentically.

Page Number: 22-23
Chapter 8 Quotes

“Rebellion is not measured in yards,” he said. “Even when it seems just a few handbreadths, a journey may have no return.”

Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

But I couldn’t always escape to join him in he woods. Lessons with the abbé, studying, serving Mass, meals with our parents kept me back: the hundreds of duties of family life to which I submitted, because in essence the sentence that I heard constantly repeated—“One rebel in a family is enough”—wasn’t unreasonable, and left its imprint on my entire life.

Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Maybe it was a version dictated by the thought of his father, whose grief would be so great at the news of his half-brother’s death and at the sight of those pitiful remains that Cosimo didn’t have the heart to burden him with the revelation of the cavaliere’s treason. In fact, later, hearing of the depression into which the baron had fallen, he tried to construct for our natural uncle a fictitious glory, inventing a secret and shrewd struggle to defeat the pirates, to which he had supposedly been devoting himself for some time and which, discovered, had led him to his death.

Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

This fact that the heir of the baronial title of Rondò had begun to live on public charity seemed to me unbecoming, and above all I thought of our dear departed father, if he had known.

Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
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Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò Character Timeline in The Baron in the Trees

The timeline below shows where the character Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò appears in The Baron in the Trees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...15, 1767, Biagio’s brother, Cosimo, eats with the family for the last time. The family— Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò; his brother, the cavalier avvocato; his wife, the Generalessa; their daughter Battista;... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Baron Arminio is a dull man, as his goals are out of step with the times. He... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...of Succession. She embroiders and makes lace maps of the campaigns or of ballistic trajectories. Baron Arminio was one of the few Italians who embraced General von Kurtewitz during the war; he... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...destroys a statue of a great-great-grandfather—and knocks over the Abbé—in the process. Later, Cosimo tells Baron Arminio that he doesn’t care about the ancestors. Battista is a rebel in her own way.... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...She shoots off the gun, forces the servants to help her recapture the snails, and Baron Arminio locks Cosimo and Biagio in the cellar for three days. The fateful lunch on June... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...it’s conveniently in view of the dining room windows. The Generalessa fears for Cosimo’s safety, Baron Arminio threatens to punish Cosimo, and Cosimo declares that he’s never coming down. (full context)
Chapter 2
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Cosimo already enjoys what he can see from the oak. The Generalessa and Baron Arminio come into the garden and make a show of ignoring Cosimo, while Biagio tries to... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...chief is Gian dei Brughi, who brings her gifts at Christmas. Cosimo spits back that Baron Arminio is right that the D’Ondarivas are lawless, which makes Viola threaten to have him beaten... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...in for a cup of chocolate. Cosimo briefly realizes that he could get revenge on Baron Arminio by accepting and becoming friends with Viola, but he also feels prideful and shy. He... (full context)
Chapter 3
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Baron Arminio calls for the boys and Biagio goes. He tells Cosimo that he’s going to report... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature 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... (full context)
Chapter 5
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...moves through the trees. He passes through the di Rondò garden several times, which causes Baron Arminio to try to convince the Abbé Fauchelafleur that Cosimo is possessed and needs to be... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
From behind the Generalessa, Battista offers a dish in Cosimo’s direction, but Baron Arminio slaps her and sends her inside. Biagio yearns to follow Cosimo now that he’s playing... (full context)
Chapter 6
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...it’s inconceivable that she’d be friends with the fruit thieves—but they do worry about Cosimo. Baron Arminio partially blames the D’Ondarivas for Cosimo’s rebellion, so he decides to send a group to... (full context)
Chapter 7
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Baron Arminio is also paranoid about the Jesuits, whom he believes are out to get him after... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 8
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
The next day, Baron Arminio sends the Abbé Fauchelafleur to find Cosimo and give him a Latin lesson. An hour... (full context)
Chapter 9
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Baron Arminio does everything he can to keep Cosimo’s rebellion a secret, even though this is a... (full context)
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
Count d’Estomac is amused and Baron Arminio ’s deflections don’t work. Cosimo bows to the count, who laughs and declares that Cosimo... (full context)
Chapter 11
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 13
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...is hunting and doesn’t know anything until later. Fearing an assassination attempt by the Jesuits, Baron Arminio locks himself in his room, and the Abbé spends the rest of his life unsure... (full context)
Chapter 14
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...if the fire brigade could morph into a militia, while it’s impossible to tell if Baron Arminio is impressed with Cosimo or embarrassed. One day, Baron Arminio gets on his horse and... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Baron Arminio bites back an insult, sighs, and announces that since Cosimo is 18, it’s time for... (full context)
Chapter 15
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...hand, he wants to alert the local port officials; on the other, he knows that Baron Arminio will suffer if word gets out. He also vowed after Gian dei Brughi’s death that... (full context)
Chapter 16
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...story. He first insists that pirates kidnapped and killed the cavalier avvocato and then, when Baron Arminio becomes depressed, Cosimo constructs a glorious story in which the cavalier avvocato struggled to defeat... (full context)
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 seems disinterested in life. Nothing in his life has gone according to plan: he’s still... (full context)
Chapter 18
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...the Inquisition and Cosimo is next, but Cosimo draws his sword. He’s shocked to discover Baron Arminio was right: Father Sulpicio insists that the Jesuits need to settle their score with the... (full context)