The Baron in the Trees

The Baron in the Trees

by

Italo Calvino

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Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa Character Analysis

Cosimo’s love interest. Cosimo first meets Viola when Viola is 10 years old. At this point, Viola already looks mature beyond her years—her hair and clothing are styled maturely for a girl of her age. She’s haughty, controlling, and her moods change constantly and instantaneously. She’s friendly with the fruit thieves in Ombrosa and alerts them when there are farmers around—but she also betrays them once, so they don’t entirely trust her. This is one of the ways in which Viola maintains power throughout her life: her suitors never know how she’s going to behave, and it’s impossible to say how she’s going to react. Though Viola is half the reason Cosimo decides to stay in the trees (it begins as a game between them), she feigns indifference to Cosimo’s displays. She leaves to attend school only a few weeks after Cosimo goes into the trees, leaving behind her dachshund puppy whom Cosimo adopts and names Ottimo Massimo. She returns about a decade later, newly widowed after a year of marriage to Duke Tolemaico. As an adult, Viola is little different than she was as a child. She is still spoiled and demanding, even insisting that she got what she wanted with the Duke in that she chose specifically to marry an old man so that she’d be a widow (and free) faster. Upon returning to Ombrosa, she again gets exactly what she wants when she reunites with Cosimo, beginning their adult love affair. Her relationship with Cosimo is tumultuous and passionate. They often fight, as Viola wants to see her lovers perform sacrifices and act heroically in order to prove that they love her, a system that drives Cosimo into rages. Their relationship begins to falter when Viola begins to court two officers and tries to get them to agree to share her, something that all three men find unacceptable. Though Biagio suggests that Cosimo and Viola’s love is genuine, when neither lover is willing to admit their faults, apologize, and confess their true feelings, Viola leaves, taking Ottimo Massimo with her. Cosimo spends the rest of his life missing her.

Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa Quotes in The Baron in the Trees

The The Baron in the Trees quotes below are all either spoken by Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa or refer to Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa. 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 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 21 Quotes

He saw her: she was circling the pool, the little gazebo, the amphoras. She looked at the trees that had grown enormous, with hanging aerial roots, the magnolias that had become a forest. But she didn’t see him, he who sought to call her with the cooing of the hoopoe, the trill of the pipit, with sounds that were lost in the dense warbling of the birds in the garden.

Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

“Why do you make me suffer?”

“Because I love you.”

Now it was he who got angry. “No, you don’t love me! One who loves wants happiness, not suffering.”

“One who loves wants only love, even at the cost of suffering.”

“So you make me suffer on purpose.”

“Yes, to see if you love me.”

The baron’s philosophy refused to go further. “Suffering is a negative state of the soul.”

Related Characters: Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa (speaker)
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

“You reason too much. Why in the world should love be reasoned?”

“To love you more. Everything increases its power if you do it by reasoning.”

“You live in the trees and you have the mentality of a lawyer with gout.”

“The boldest enterprises should be experienced with the simplest heart.”

He continued to spout opinions until she ran away; then he, following her, despairing, tearing his hair.

Related Characters: Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò (speaker), Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ombrosa’s Native Trees
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Baron in the Trees LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Baron in the Trees PDF

Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa Character Timeline in The Baron in the Trees

The timeline below shows where the character Viola d’Ondariva/Sinforosa appears in The Baron in the Trees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...scent of the garden and hears someone singing. He catches sight of a young girl (Viola), dressed in clothing that seems too adult, swinging, singing, and eating an apple. Cosimo climbs... (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
Cosimo blushes—he loves his gaiters, and he feels inadequate to learn that Viola is friends with the despised fruit thieves and not with him. He cries that he... (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
Viola and Cosimo argue over whether Cosimo is on her land. Cosimo says that the trees... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Viola’s aunt recognizes Cosimo and calls Viola to her. Being recognized and Viola’s obedience makes Cosimo... (full context)
Chapter 4
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...him. One points out that there are ice cream eaters who are smart, like the Sinforosa. The boys try to make a deal with Cosimo, but Cosimo asks who the Sinforosa... (full context)
Chapter 5
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Gradually, Cosimo learns that the Sinforosa is a noble girl who rides a white pony and, for a while, protected the... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
...the day they all hear the hunting horn. The fruit thieves scatter and run to Viola, abandoning Cosimo. Cosimo climbs after them and finds them all on the top of a... (full context)
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
...breaks, but he doesn’t hit the ground—his coattails catch on a branch. He stares at Viola and the fruit thieves upside-down and vows to never talk about being in the trees... (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
...Rondò garden. However, he’s only passing through to the D’Ondarivas’ garden, even at times when Viola isn’t awake. Viola’s parents don’t worry much about her—none of her aunts can ride, and... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...the cavalier avvocato is looking for a parrot, but they let him in. Cosimo and Viola ignore the group and continue their games, and Cosimo moves from tree to tree whenever... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...men stroll through the garden, chatting. Cosimo takes the opportunity to throw a berry at Viola’s window. She opens it and hisses that it’s his fault she’s locked up. Cosimo feels... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...the D’Ondariva garden. When Cosimo gets over the wall, however, he sees a carriage and Viola dressed for traveling. Cosimo holds the cat up and asks where Viola is going. She... (full context)
Chapter 8
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...even more otherworldly. Ottimo Massimo dives into a bush and brings a hair ribbon of Viola’s to Cosimo. The dog discovers other souvenirs too. With his sword, Cosimo carves his name,... (full context)
Chapter 21
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
...disorients Cosimo as well. Finally, she passes between the pillars and Cosimo sees that it’s Viola. Cosimo feels almost feverish and wants to cry out for her, but he can only... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Viola gallops through a chestnut wood and Cosimo leaps through the trees after her. She reappears... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Viola tells her servants where to hang the swing and finally sees Cosimo. She’s surprised, but... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Cosimo is stunned and asks who Viola was flirting with. Viola says she’ll never let Cosimo be jealous, which startles him. She... (full context)
Chapter 22
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Cosimo leads Viola to the tree where he carved their names alongside Ottimo Massimo’s. Viola is moved and... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Nevertheless, Viola is still spoiled, and Cosimo doesn’t spark her imagination. This leads to short-lived fights. They... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...and their fights, and they often argue about whether suffering is a part of love. Viola insists it is and that Cosimo must suffer to show that he loves her, but... (full context)
Chapter 23
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...most part, the people of Ombrosa gossip about Cosimo but treat him respectfully. They reproach Viola’s behavior but generally talk as though their behavior is normal for nobles. Viola has properties... (full context)
Coming of Age, Family, and the Individual Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...gone. Once, Biagio journeys to Paris on business and in a salon, he runs into Viola. She gives Biagio a handkerchief to pass on to Cosimo, but a friend takes Biagio... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Viola returns, pleased at how jealous Cosimo is, and accuses him of holding a narrow idea... (full context)
Virtue, Dignity, and Kindness Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
One morning, Cosimo watches Viola drop a note to the Neapolitan, asking for a meeting. He then watches her do... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Sir Osbert and Don Salvatore refuse to share Viola, so Viola says she’ll belong to whoever is the first to say that they’ll share... (full context)
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Biagio suspects that this was a time of torment for all four lovers, even Viola. Sir Osbert and Don Salvatore spend all their time with her, remaining firm in their... (full context)
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
Civilization vs. Nature Theme Icon
Viola leaves immediately for France and gets caught up in the French Revolution. She eventually ends... (full context)
Chapter 26
Education, Connectedness, and the Written Word Theme Icon
The Age of Enlightenment vs. The Romantic Era Theme Icon
...it’s too sad, so he asks everyone to write what they want most. He writes “Viola” and titles the final book Book of Complaints and Joys. There’s nowhere to send it,... (full context)