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Bel Canto

Ann Patchett


Chapter Ten

page 1 of 2


Mr. Hosokawa regularly visits Coss’s bedroom at night. He is in love, but he knows that the circumstances are extraordinary. He doesn’t believe his relationship with Coss will survive in the outside world. Hosokawa wonders if everyone experiences such love for a short time and then spends the rest of their lives remembering it.

Each night in the china closet, Watanabe and Carmen alternate between making love and studying. Despite the power of their love, the narrator reminds us, Watanabe is still a hostage, and Carmen is still a terrorist.

Messner, the Red Cross representative, shows up looking haggard. He is the only one who seems worried about how this standoff will end. He is no longer trying to work out a compromise; he simply hopes to help the terrorists avoid a tragedy. After struggling to get General Benjamin’s attention, Messner explains that government action seems imminent. Messner begs Benjamin to surrender, but Benjamin refuses. During the conversation, Benjamin seems almost convinced that the government will just let them stay in the mansion forever.

Watanabe, who is translating the conversation, understands that time may be growing short for the terrorists. Though this worries him, he can’t believe that anything bad will happen to Carmen. He thinks that because she is special to him, she will somehow be spared. Watanabe tries to forget all of the ways that tragedy is imminent so he can continue to believe that his love for Carmen will survive. In fact, the narrator tells us, “everyone forgot. Except for Messner, whose job it was to remember. And Simon Thibault, who even in his sleep thought of nothing but his wife.”

Coss continues to give Cesar his lessons. One afternoon, she is instructing him inside while everyone else is outside. Many people are playing soccer. Ishmael is helping Iglesias in the garden. Government troops come in. Coss sees them and screams. The troops kill Cesar and then, in the garden, they kill General Benjamin. Soon after the general’s death, the narrator says, the general’s brother is taken from prison and executed for conspiracy. The troops shoot Ishmael. The vice president sees Ishmael go down and rushes to him, weeping. Beatriz sees that all of the terrorists are being shot, but she can’t believe she will be shot, too. She thinks if she keeps her arms straight the government troops will see that she is surrendering, and spare her. Mendoza sees that Beatriz is in danger and rushes toward her. Beatriz smiles at Mendoza and is shot.

Watanabe looks for Carmen, repeating, “She is my wife, she is my wife.” The narrator says that Carmen was killed right in the beginning. She and Hosokawa were in the kitchen and they rushed out when they heard Coss scream. Hosokawa was killed when he stepped between Carmen and the government troops to try to save her.

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