Summary (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
A Ghost at Noon is a subtle book about the death of a marriage. Molteni, the narrator, an intellectual who wishes to write for the theater, is married to Emilia, the beautiful daughter of an old Roman family which has become poverty-stricken. She is not highly educated and has devoted herself to caring for her husband and the one furnished room in which they live. They were blissfully happy for two years. Then, Molteni claims, his wife changed, judged him, ceased to love him. The book is both the reconstruction of this decline and an attempt to make sense of it.
Ironically, the first step in the deterioration of the marriage seems to be the result of the narrator’s effort to provide a better home for his wife.After buying the lease of an apartment he cannot afford, he perceives himself as “a poor devil,” isolated in financial anxiety from a domestically inclined, working-class woman who cannot understand his unhappiness. He has incurred debts on her behalf, he believes; to pay them he must prostitute his talent and become a scriptwriter.
The reader wonders if it is, in fact, Emilia who first becomes judgmental. Why do Molteni’s debts involve payments on a car as well as on the apartment? Purchasing a car was not a sacrifice made for Emilia. The reader can see throughout the book Molteni’s confused pattern of behavior. He ignores the indications Emilia gives of her feelings; he constructs what he believes that she feels, acts...
(The entire section is 1201 words.)
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