Admittedly, Calvino could choose any setting for a story of a personal rebel. However, his novel is not much of a personal rebel. It is rather a reflection of the history of humanity. Calvino’s choice is far from being accidental. The author chose one of the most significant periods in the history of humanity.
This period was marked by really great changes in societies and in people’s minds. Calvino makes his protagonist go up the tree to make him see the world clearly. Basically, Cosimo becomes a man of vision as he can alienate himself from various unimportant things to notice what is really essential.
In fact, even the story of Cosimo’s family is a kind of reflection of the world history. The family had specific order. They lived their lives. However, one day “on the fifteenth of June, 1767” one member of the family decided to break the order (Calvino 3). He could not live the old life, and he chose his own way and he created his own state.
The protagonist’s words are very suggestive: “In fact, all the causes of the French Revolution were present among us too” (Calvino 194). French people decided to change their lives in the end of the eighteenth century as well.
Apart from particular parallelism, the author makes his protagonist understand many important things. Cosimo’s views on Napoleon’s wars, revolutions, new orders differ from opinions which ruled at that period of time. Cosimo can see everything more clearly. One of the most interesting ideas revealed in the novel is that “armies always loot, whatever the ideas they bring” (Calvino 212).
Cosimo can see that in many cases all those great events had one vicious aim, i.e. some people wanted to become richer. Interestingly, the specific setting enables Calvino to express his viewpoints on various historical events, but at the same time to avoid preaching which is a characteristic feature of any historical novel where the author evaluates events on the basis of several centuries of human experience. Calvino’s evaluation is made by the participant of events who simply has a clearer vision.
Calvino, Italo. The Baron in the Trees. New York: Mariner Books, 1977. Print.