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Bel Canto

Main Ideas

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