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Canto Of Ulysses by Primo Levi

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David Green

on 28 January 2013

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Transcript of Canto Of Ulysses by Primo Levi

Chapter 11: Canto of Ulysses Primo Levis Summary By Alan Liu and David Sebua Chapter 11, The Canto of Ulysses. The kapos's assistant pikolo, Jean, chooses Levi to accompany him to collect the daily ration of soup. As they walk to the kitchen however the long walk is a rare and precious moment of rest for Levi and Jean.During the walk Jean, already fluent in German and French, expresses his desire to learn Italian some day, to which Primo responds by reciting from memory, the twenty-sixth canto of Dante's Inferno. Key quotes Key Characters Primo Levi: the narrator and protagonist

Jean: the pikolo of Kommando, or otherwise known as the messenger clerk, he speaks both French and German fluently, and he is also a great deal for Kommando, he does manual work for the Kapo, and he receives extra attention. In this chapter, while accompanying Levi for carrying the soup, he speaks of his interest in Italian.

Alex: the Kapo of Kommando, in charge of the chemists.

Other characters: Rudi, (an SS man) the Blockführer, Limentani from Rome, Frenkl the spy, Themes/Motifs [Isolation/Suffering]: six of the chemist prisoners were put inside an underground petrol tank, the conditions are extreme.
[Fear/Punishment]: when the rope-ladder hanging began to sway, the workers began to work more vigorously, as they are afraid of the punishment if the Kommando sees them taking a break e.g. whipping
[Communication]: in this short chapter, the narrator Levi was able to speak with Jean alone, where he began to teach him Italian, and a story by the name of Canto of Ulyssses. The time this even was taken place is approximately June 1944, it is reaching the end of the war, early summer, a lot of rain, the petrol tank is damp and cold.

The suffering of the chemists would get worse by day, if it hadn't been summer, where the temperature would rise, which could be a good thing for them than coldness.

Primo Levi is finally making conversations with Jean, the pikolo, who has many times stop the Kapo from punishing the chemists.

Jean's eager to learn could be something that will be the roots for a long term friendship between Levi and Jean. Key quotes " the daylight only reached us through a small manhole. It was a luxury job because no one supervised us"---p115

"The power of the rust burnt under our eyelids and coated our throats and mouths with a taste almost like blood"---p115

"It had been a long, cautious and subtle task which the entire Kommando had followed for a month with bated breath"---116

"Although Jean had never abused his position, we had already been able to verify that a single word of his, said in the right tone of voice and at the right moment, had great power; many times already it had saved one of us afrom whipping or from being denounced to the SS.---p117

"He spent a month in Liguria, he likes Italy, he would like to learn Italian."---p118

"perhaps, despite the wan translation and the pedestrian, rushed commentary, he has received the message, he has felt that it has to do with him"---p120 The End
Thanks for watching! by Alan Liu and David Sebua Contextual Issues Contextual Issues Links to other texts Similarly to "Translations" by Brian Friel, this chapter has described isolation, as well as communication, and the eager to learn a new language: Jean who wants to learn Italian to that of Sarah in translations who wants to learn English to communicate with Yoland.
Dehumanization/Isolation are also shared between "The Crucible" and "If this is a man", where witches in "The Crucible" are seen as outcast and immediately isolated from the community; the same way the Jewish chemists in this chapter are put into a petrol tank to do harsh manual labor that differentiate their social status from the Nazi soldiers and general civilians.
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