The Argentine Ant

by Italo Calvino
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Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 448

The characters of "The Argentine Ant" are as follows:

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The narrator: The unnamed narrator must face a terrible challenge after discovering that Argentine ants have inundated his rented cottage. In the story, the narrator focuses on reassuring his wife and looking for solutions for the ant infestation. He is especially upset that both his Uncle Augusto and Signora Mauro (the landlady) previously downplayed the problem. The narrator is primarily driven by the need to make a better life for his wife and infant son.

The narrator's wife: The narrator's wife also remains unnamed. In the story, she finds the presence of the ants upsetting. Her chief focus is the safety of the baby. She is especially furious that the ants have gotten to their provisions. It is the narrator's wife who insists that the ants be destroyed before the furniture is arranged.

The baby: The baby is a minor character in the story. He is covered with ants during the night and, for his safety, must sleep in a drawer specially prepared for him. In the story, he cries when he sees the ants on the branches of a tree on the premises. Later, an ant gets into his ear and must be flushed out with warm oil.

Signora Mauro: Signora Mauro is the landlady. In the story, she tries to distract the narrator and his wife from noticing the ants in the walls and roof. She clearly states that there is no remedy against the ant infestation.

Signor Reginaudo and his wife, Claudia: This couple are the narrator's closest neighbors. Signor Reginaudo calls the narrator's cottage Casa Laureri, after a previous tenant. According to the story, Signor Reginaudo has used many insecticides to rid his house of the ants. However, none of them have been effective.

Captain Brauni: Captain Brauni is another neighbor. In the story, he has created elaborate "systems," or contraptions, to annihilate the ants. One of his newer inventions consists of a wire anchored to a tree trunk. Some fish remains are tacked to the end of the wire, and a can is located at the foot of the entire contraption. Captain Brauni maintains that his new contraption kills forty ants per minute. He keeps the dead ants in sacks and suggests that the ant infestation can be tackled by starving the queen ants.

The "ant" man, or Signor Baudino, a representative of the Argentine Ant Control Corporation: In the story, Signor Baudino appears periodically to "poison" the ants with molasses. In theory, the molasses is supposed to eventually kill the queen ants. However, it doesn't appear to be a workable solution, and the neighbors soon accuse Signor Baudino of fattening the ants instead.

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