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Bel Canto

Ann Patchett

Epilogue

Chapter Ten

Important Quotations Explained

Summary

Some time later, the Thibaults meet Coss and Watanabe in Lucca, a small city in Italy where opera composer Giacomo Puccini was born. The Thibaults have come to attend the wedding of Coss and Watanabe. The narrator tells us that Edith Thibault, in contrast to the other three, “still believed she was lucky.” Coss says twice that she is happy, and she kisses Watanabe.

The two men go off to see if they can find a bar. Leaving his wife, Thibault feels a moment of panic. Watanabe tells Thibault that these days he mainly translates books so that he has plenty of time to attend Coss’s rehearsals. Watanabe and Coss will live in Milan. Watanabe stops and tells Thibault that not one of the newspapers he has read mentioned the two female terrorists. He wonders if the same was true in the French papers. Thibault says it was. Watanabe has written to the newspapers asking them to correct the mistake, but none of them have. Watanabe says it is almost as if Carmen and Beatriz “never existed.”

Watanabe says that when he called Iglesias and told him about his marriage to Coss, Iglesias advised him not rush into anything. But Watanabe says he didn’t want to wait. Thibault tells Watanabe he was right to marry, but privately he begins to suspect that Watanabe and Carmen were lovers. Thibault remembers how Carmen’s face would brighten whenever she saw Watanabe. Thibault can’t get Carmen’s face out of his mind. Watanabe says that when he hears Coss sing, he thinks well of the world. Thibault says out loud, “She is a beautiful girl.” It is not clear whether he means Carmen or Coss.

The narrator says that Thibault feels sure that Watanabe and Coss had married for “the love of each other and the love of all the people they remembered.” As Coss and Mrs. Thibault come into view and extend their arms, Thibault is overcome with joy.

Analysis

Most epilogues tie up loose ends, but this one raises more questions than it answers. Coss and Watanabe, who have both lost their lovers, marry each other. It is unclear whether they are happy, or whether they truly love each other. Coss says twice that she loves Watanabe, as if she is trying to convince herself. And something about the way Watanabe protests that he didn’t want to wait to marry Coss makes Thibault suddenly suspect that Watanabe and Carmen were lovers.

Still, it is possible that Watanabe and Coss have found happiness together; the novel is ambiguous on this point. Certainly, throughout the novel Patchett has suggested that true love is often a product of chance and circumstance. Watanabe only fell in love with Carmen, and Hosokawa with Coss, because of the bizarre situation that threw them together. Now that Watanabe and Coss have been brought together by tragedy; perhaps they have truly fallen in love.

It is also true that the hostages and the captors often thought, during the standoff, that the intensity of their love for each other would be hard to maintain in the outside world. Perhaps Coss and Watanabe feel affection for each other, and although it does not approach the passion they felt for Hosokawa and Carmen, it is sufficient for the real world.

Coss and Watanabe’s marriage is in part a memorial to the people they have lost. As Thibault says, they married for “the love of each other and the love of all the people they remembered.”

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