The Periodic Table Questions and Answers
by Primo Levi

Start Your Free Trial

What is the theme of the chapter "Lead" in The Periodic Table by Primo Levi?

Expert Answers info

Thanh Munoz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,694 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

The "Lead" chapter of The Periodic Table appears to be a parable about greed and exploitation. From the start, the speaker tells us that his country is called "Thiuda" but that the neighboring peoples, who "are all our enemies," call them by different names, including Saksa, Nemet, and Alaman.

Obviously, the speaker's country is, or represents, Germany. The first of these names sounds like "Saxony," which is, in the form Sachsen, what the Germans themselves call one Land or (former) principality of their country. The second sounds like the Russian word for German, and the third, of course, is like the French word for Germany, Allemagne.

Though the narrative evidently is intended to date from a prehistoric time, the way the speaker describes himself seems to relate to modern Germany's actions, though in a heavily symbolic way. He tells us his name is Rodmund, which in German means (with a slight change in spelling but the same pronunciation) "Red mouth." His people, he says, don't like to...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 874 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jessie Canales, M.A. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from University of Lancaster


calendarEducator since 2019

write392 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Felicita Burton eNotes educator| Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write5,787 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial