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The Baron in the Trees Summary

The story narrated by one goody-goody and well-behaved brother about his witty, corny and outright smart brother is about courage and wonder, especially when Cosimo’s behavior is compared with the one of the today’s youth. His brother Biagio says, “Then, with the advent of more careless generations, of improvident greed, of people who loved nothing, not even themselves, all was to change and no Cosimo was to walk the trees again” (Calvino, 1977, p. 103). The paper seeks to analyze what this statement means in a broad literary aspect. It raises the theme of love, and presents it as the most important for people.

To receive love, one has to show and give this. It was what Cosimo did, he natured the trees and showed them love. Although living in the trees seems impossible and superfluous, the baron pulled it off simply, due to his love was real. Unlike today’s generation, that exchange love for what they can get in return, Cosimo loves the trees and his surroundings so much such that the former loved him back.

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The following passage shows just how Cosimo lives and loves. To illustrate this, the narrator says:

On a fig tree, though, as long as he saw to it that a branch could bear his weigh, he could move about forever; Cosimo would stand under the pavilion of leaves, watching the sun appear through the network of twigs and branches, the gradual swell of the green fruit, smelling the scent of flowers budding in the stalks. The fig tree seemed to absorb him, permeate him with its gummy texture and the buzz of hornets; after a little Cosimo would begin to feel he was becoming a fig tree himself, and move away uneasy. (Calvino, 1977, p. 69)

The narrator gives the reader the feeling of what it is like to merge with nature, when you truly accept the Mother and she accepts you too. It shows that the baron was a warm-hearted person.

Being a 12-year old boy, in 1972, Cosimo rebelled against his parents and went to the trees to show how much he disapproved the world and society in general. Form the onset, he is portrayed as a witty and fiery fellow. He has the guts of talking to his father in a reproving manner, “Fie on all your ancestors, Father!”- a portent of his mission as a rebel.” (Calvino, 1977, p. 8). It was the green light to his calamity that he was about to set in motion, banishing himself to the trees.

Due to he was born in a noble family, one would not expect such a behavior from the baron. However, he outdid himself by refusing to touch the ground again and chose to spend his life among the treetops, where he created his own world and relationships. It gives him the added advantage of seeing the world more clearly, and he loves his life. It is no longer his pride, but the relationships he forms with the family of mice, squirrels, and birds in the trees.

Cosimo loves people around him; however, he has a very strange way of showing his emotions. He feels that in order to help his family and the girl next door, he needs to be separated from them. His splendid isolation among the treetops provides him with the needed distance for his plan to be effective. This bid is in line with the theories of a philosopher, as well as a revolutionary man, who finds, molds, and disciplines himself in a military and very difficult manner in order to complete his mission or cause.

Cosimo bids to be exceptional, he strives to live a life, to which men cannot adapt. However, he manages to portray that humanity is an inborn thing, when he falls hopelessly in love with the girl next door named Viola. Cosimo misses his family, but the cause will not allow him to abandon the mission to prove his point.

Cosimo is indeed a person belonging to the lost generation. He is disobedient, and it is described at the beginning of the book, “Cosimo said: I told you I don’t want any, and I don’t!” and pushed away his plateful of snails. Never had we seen such disobedience.” (Calvino, 1977, p. 3). This outburst can be pardoned, but Cosimo was born in a nobleman’s house, and such kind of behavior is intolerable, but this does not stop him.

Through this display of the lack of good manners, the narrator has managed to show us how prudent and truly-devoted Cosimo is when he chooses to be such. He did things, because he wanted to, felt a connection to them and not a simple one, due to he was inclined, but not expected to do so. His relationship with Viola allows sharing what he truly loves with at least one human, who is connected to the rest of the community.

This line carries more weight than just the depiction of the relationship between a man and his surroundings, his personal space and his own home. The bond that Cosimo has with his dog shows that he is indeed a noble man at heart. He can choose to stay secluded from humans, but cannot shut out love.

It is funny how one can easily rule out Cosimo for a mad man and not love him. However, true courtesy teaches us to be afraid of those, who cannot love, because they are careless. Having such a trait comes as a result of not paying attention. When people stop to take a look at the surroundings, they appreciate life and the ability of imagination.

The modern generation tends to be careless and greedy; no one is concerned about loving the environment or anything else for that matter. It is all about take, take, take, and more taking from Mother Nature. It is very difficult to find someone, who is aware of the environment and is free to develop true feelings.

Cosimo’s family was more concerned about their status in society and became inclined to superficiality. As a way of showing his father how bored of this feature he was, and how much he loathed it, Cosimo fled from the house, freeing himself of his family’s dispassionate way of living. In clear tones, no man could show love in the way Cosimo did.

This man lived a life of integrity, being not afraid of shunning what seemed right, because he did what he loved and cared for. He endeavored to be honest about what he wanted and loved. Thus, his life is free and supports his norms.

There is no one like Cosimo, no one capable of living his or her life without stopping to care what society wants and expects. There is no one in today’s society, who can go on about their business, not minding what other people say. It is all about what is expected of them, what people around will think and how will treat.

To sum up, the narrator of The Baron in the Trees teaches to love without holding back, for that is the only noble trait that humans are capable of possessing and controlling. As soon as one loves, he or she ceases to pass through life, being oblivious to its beauty. “We live in a country where causes are always seen but never effects.” (Calvino, 1977, p. 194). Thus, love should be in everyone’s heart. 

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