“The Baron in the Tree” by Italo Calvino Literature Analysis Essay

Distinguishing between Cosimo’s Values and Those of His Parents

The Baron in the Trees is an account about a young boy refusing to live on the ground because of his sadistic sister humiliating him. The hero climbs up the trees and swears he will never descend on the ground. Judging from the plot, the author provides a story about a self-sufficient and confident boy who strives to free himself from the obligations imposed on him by his parents. He prefers living in the trees for the rest of his life to taking the role of a noble baron. Cosimo creates a new world and, therefore, the arboreal existence is a kind of his protest against his family striving to observe the obsolete and accepted norms in society.

The plot sets around the eighteenth century, the times when societal norms and behavior patterns were highly valued. The conservative outlook on children’s upbringing prevents the character’s family from crossing the established boundaries and identifying new ideals and paths for development. Hence, Cosimo’s parents are determined to follow the conservative rules irrespective of the common sense.

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In the book, Cosimo’s father is presented as a man whose “life was dominated by conflicting ideas”. He “…thought of nothing but genealogies and successions and family rivalries and alliances with grandees near and far” (Calvino 5). Similarly, Cosimo’s mother considers it a priority to follow the old traditions and ethical principles.

Cosimo’s values are radically different from those pursued by his parents. The hero does support their faithful commitment to traditions and old-fashioned norms. On the contrary, the boy is overwhelmed with the desire to cross the moral boundaries and find new path for self-defiance. In particular, Cosimo criticizes his family for being extremely canonical.

These circumstances prevent his parents from recognizing the new tendencies in social development. In addition, both Cosimo’s father and mother consider it rational to think over their son’s career and position in society (Calvino 6). In contrast, the hero believes that the reality is too dull because there are no opportunities for building his life independently. He strives to be more determined while making decisions.

Though Cosimo’s decision to climb up the trees was initially meant as a kind of protest, it further turned into a more serious intention to lead life above the ground. In fact, such a choice is congruent with the hero’s outlook on life and society. Everything that is connected with the life on the ground disappears as soon as Cosimo starts living in the trees (Calvino 12). The possibility to make decisions and develop relationships independently from parents shapes Cosimo’s personality and characterizes him as a liberal, radical, and even protestant to existing norms and old-fashioned manners.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that Cosimo’s values were confined to looking at the future opportunities rather than to referring to the past traditions and norms that were strictly observed by his parents. Hence, earlier generations were more oriented on conservative patterns of behavior and, therefore, Cosimo’s parents were obsessed with the Cosimo’s social position and career as determining factors of his future success.

As a result, Cosimo position is represented through denial of the “ground” life and preference to live in another world which is above. His hypocritical view on society is also symbolically represented through allegorical depiction of the arboreal existence and rejection to live in a old-fashioned society.

Works Cited

Calvino, Italo. The Baron in the Trees. US: Marriner Books, 1977. Print.

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