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Bel Canto

Ann Patchett

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · Bel Canto

author · Ann Patchett

type of work · Novel

genre · Romance; political thriller; fantasy

language · English

time and place written · 1990s; Nashville, Tennessee

date of first publication · 2001

publisher · Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

narrator · Omniscient, anonymous third-person; occasional free indirect discourse

point of view · The narrator’s, who moves from character to character, explaining the private thoughts and feelings of each

tone · Sympathetic; melancholy

tense · Past

setting (time) · The not-too-distant past

setting (place) · A vice president’s mansion in an unspecified, impoverished South American country

protagonist · Katsumi Hosokawa, Roxanne Coss, Gen Watanabe, and Carmen

major conflict · As the terrorists and the hostages come to care for and even love one another, the prospect of governmental interference looms

rising action · Hosokawa and Coss fall in love; Watanabe and Carmen fall in love

climax · Government troops storm the mansion, killing all the terrorists and Hosokawa

falling action · Watanabe and Coss marry

themes · Passion in the face of death; the strangeness of fate; the basic human impulse toward civilization

motifs · Opera; language barriers; secret passions

symbols · The vice president’s mansion, the soap opera, Rusalka, child terrorists

foreshadowing · Throughout the novel, the narrator intimates that the terrorists’ deaths are inevitable; the lifting of the fog symbolizes the beginning of the end of captivity