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Bel Canto

Ann Patchett


Chapter Three

page 1 of 2


As the women leave the building, the generals tell Roxanne Coss that she has to stay. She says she has had enough. She came to sing, and she did; she was told to sleep on the floor, and she did. But now she’s ready to leave. As an afterthought, she explains that she has to attend to Christopf, her accompanist, who has been allowed to leave because he is very ill.

The generals refuse to let Coss leave. Realizing she has lost the fight, she retreats. A moment later, Christopf returns. When he realizes that Coss will not been released, he decides to stay with her, despite his illness. Soon after, he sinks into a coma. Father Arguedas, fearing the worst, begins to say last rites for him.

Coss recalls her plane trip to South America with Christopf, who annoyed her by declaring his ardent love for her. Christopf was always an excellent accompanist, but Coss did not bother to learn much about him beyond that, and she did not enjoy being held captive to his confessions on the plane. In fact, she had tried to change her seat. Now, seeing Christopf ill, Coss feels guilty.

Christopf’s illness baffles everyone until Coss remember that he is diabetic. She searches his person and finds a hypodermic needle and an empty bottle of insulin. Almost immediately after Coss recalls Christopf’s condition, he dies. General Benjamin sees the dead accompanist and feels very sorry for him. He thinks of his brother in prison, and hopes that his brother will live to see freedom.

Hosokawa gives the weeping Roxanne Coss his handkerchief. Soon after, Hosokawa has Gen approach Coss to offer condolences on Hosokawa’s behalf and to apologize for Hosokawa’s part in bringing her to this country. Coss approaches Hosokawa and they communicate face-to-face for the first time. With Gen’s help, Coss says there is nothing to forgive.

The terrorists collect information from the hostages. They want to keep the important people, whose captivity will give them more bargaining power, and let others go. When some of the young terrorists begin to bicker, General Hector silences them by shooting the clock on the wall. In the meantime, the vice president walks around his living room, tidying up after everyone and making sure everyone is comfortable.

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