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.
Biagio, Cosimo, and Battista’s mother, and Baron Arminio’s wife. As a girl, the Generalessa accompanied her father, a general, on his campaigns in the War of Austrian Succession, which earned her the nickname Generalessa (her real name, which no one in the novel uses, is Konradine Von Kurtewitz). Because of her upbringing, she knows all about battle tactics, ballistics, and navigation. Though Biagio describes her as a good parent, she doesn’t have much of a sense of humor and her only focus is on somehow getting her sons to join the military. The Generalessa spends her days either making lace or embroidering; all of her work is military themed. Her focus on the military means that she has “military manners” and is exacting, so Baron Arminio’s pointless scheming is frustrating for her. Though she’s initially concerned when Cosimo goes into the trees, she’s the first to accept that he’s not going to come down and makes sure he has what he needs to stay warm and dry. She signals to him with military flags, something that hurts Biagio—she never played with them with the flags, or taught the boys how to signal with them, until Cosimo disappeared. It’s implied that Cosimo and the Generalessa have a close relationship until her death, as Cosimo keeps a vigil at her window all the time in her final days.

The Generalessa Quotes in The Baron in the Trees

The The Baron in the Trees quotes below are all either spoken by The Generalessa or refer to The Generalessa. 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:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Chapter 5 Quotes

She was there waving one of her flags and looking through the telescope when suddenly her whole face brightened and she laughed. We understood that Cosimo had answered her. [...] Certainly from then on our mother changed; her earlier apprehension disappeared, and [...] she finally accepted Cosimo’s strangeness before the rest of us, as if she was satisfied now by the greetings that from then on he sent her every so often, unpredictably—by that exchange of silent messages.

Page Number: 52-53
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire The Baron in the Trees LitChart as a printable PDF.
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The Generalessa Character Timeline in The Baron in the Trees

The timeline below shows where the character The Generalessa 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
...time. The family—Baron Arminio Piovasco di Rondò; his brother, the cavalier avvocato; his wife, the Generalessa; their daughter Battista; the tutor Abbé Fauchelafleur; along with eight-year-old Biagio and twelve-year-old Cosimo—gather in... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...not care about anything, while the cavalier avvocato steals entire turkey thighs during dinner. The Generalessa has military manners all the time, so dinner is little different. Battista frightens everyone. Thus,... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
The Generalessa spends her days making lace and embroidering. She’s a warrior at heart after spending her... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...climb the oak often and 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... (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... (full context)
Chapter 3
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...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. (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... (full context)
Chapter 5
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
...to convince the Abbé Fauchelafleur that Cosimo is possessed and needs to be exorcised. The Generalessa peers through a field telescope. She spends hours looking for Cosimo and plotting his paths... (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... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...returns to the di Rondò garden, carrying the cat by its tail. Biagio alerts the Generalessa to Cosimo’s wounds, and she prepares a package of medical supplies to take to Cosimo... (full context)
Chapter 8
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Biagio worries about Cosimo in the rain. The Generalessa initially insists that Cosimo will be fine, but when Biagio suggests taking him an umbrella,... (full context)
Chapter 14
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...has only good things to say about Cosimo in regards to the fire brigade. The Generalessa wonders if the fire brigade could morph into a militia, while it’s impossible to tell... (full context)
Chapter 20
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Biagio returns to Ombrosa when he receives word that the Generalessa is ill. He finds Cosimo sitting outside the Generalessa’s window and is struck that the... (full context)