Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 178

The novel is concerned with conflicting values. The old society, marked by sacred duties, honor, and simplicity, is contrasted with the modern world. The characters evidence their different values, and the narrator moves confusedly among them. The palace which Triumph Films uses and debases, the cars disputing with oxcarts the right to the road, and, above all, the use of the Odyssey and the death of Emilia make the theme plain.

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Much of the interest of the novel lies in the reader’s participation in the puzzle: Why did the marriage of Molteni and Emilia fail? The reader’s ability to participate depends on his detachment from the narrator, and even on his ability to compete with the narrator in reaching a solution. The author’s technical skill ensures that the narrator, seeking the truth himself, reports conversations, behavior, and feelings as fully and as accurately as possible.Consequently, readers are able to follow the events without adopting the narrator’s interpretation of them and may, indeed, construct from Molteni’s story the solution Molteni himself cannot find.

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Characters