Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In “The Falling Girl,” Dino Buzzati offers a critique of post-World War II Italy and, by extension, of all industrialized countries in which conspicuous consumption and hierarchies based on class exist. The skyscraper provides a metaphor for the gradations in society based on wealth. On the top floors, luxurious cocktail parties are attended by rich, elegant people who make silly conversation and enjoy the interesting diversion that has become a regular occurrence in the building: the falling girls. Near the bottom of the building, the tenants’ diversion is less pleasant because the girls who fall have become old women; the tenants realize that the apartments on higher floors cost more because of the splendid views of the city, the sea, and the falling girls.

No one seems concerned for the girl, Marta, because the society is based on consumption, pleasure, entertainment, and diversion. Other people exist solely for one’s pleasure. Marta is no revolutionary hero who dies in protest against this consumer society; she is simply a young girl who wants access to this world of diamonds and minks. She does not want to bring this culture down; she wants to become a member of it.

Those who work in the building either are trapped in their rows with their typewriters, or they run to the windows, view the girls falling, and feel envy for those who, in free-falling, seem somehow to have escaped the constraints of the world of labor, the world of...

(The entire section is 416 words.)