The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Bassani’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis: How Glass Captures and Protects the Beauty of the Past 11th Grade

Giorgio Bassani’s novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is told from the perspective of an unnamed speaker who is recalling his time spent with the Finzi-Contini family prior to the family members' deaths in the Holocaust. This is an Edenic time, and one that the speaker attempts to preserve through writing the novel. Bassani uses the motif of glass as a symbol for preserving the objects that the characters value in order to convey that, as the past is recounted, the narrator is trying to keep the Finzi-Contins family alive in his own memories. Yet he knows full well the horrible end they had come to; by doing so, the speaker is able to accept the family’s demise and finally continue on with his life.

Perotti’s efforts to preserve his elevator and the discussion of the láttimi objects are used to demonstrate how glass is a symbol for preserving the objects that the characters cherish. The speaker rides in Perotti’s elevator and describes how the caretaker was “standing a few inches away [from the speaker], absorbed [with the elevator]” and had “shut himself up again in a silence” (141). Although the speaker is accompanying Perotti in the elevator, the caretaker doesn’t speak to him and is instead “absorbed” in operating the...

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