Bandini Question #10 ~ The Cameo

by John Fante

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:19 pm

Great answers all around. I think we were all on that roller coaster together. But it wasn’t a fun ride. And I will post tomorrow’s question tonight because we are ALL (including me, not just you, Nebraska) on the verge of answering it already. It is about the roller coast ride Arturo is on.

Bix wrote: In his fevered passionate fantasy of his love for Rosa, I'm sure Arturo was elated to find a thing of beauty and worth that he could give to her. No matter that he knew he was stealing one of the few things of beauty his mother owned, he had to do it. Rosa may even have considered keeping such a beautiful thing, but her mother recognized that neither family could afford such things, so it must have been stolen, and made her give it back. And things go downhill from there. I found this scene really emotionally painful to read because Arturo is so raw and bleeding in it. (Not that he isn't that way in every scene!)

Bix, this brought me back to how someone (can't remember who it was) characterized Arturo's feelings for Rosa as an obsession. I think this is so true, as seen in the lengths he goes to here with this incident. I'm not excusing him, but I think he was out of control, and wasn't thinking clearly. Then, when she wouldn't accept his present, he lost it. I think his emotions, ego and his poor male role model pushed him over the brink.

Bermuda, I only see one post. :perplexed: I guess you were able to fix that....with that cute little rolling pin, maybe? :lol:
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Unread postby gemini » Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:44 am

ooops Sorry, trying to correct misspelling Arturo in my first post and hit quote instead of edit.
Last edited by gemini on Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postby nebraska » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:11 pm

I was disappointed when he took the cameo, and I was shocked when he didn't follow through with his "Penance", part of which was to return the cameo.I didn't see that one coming at all. The rest didn't seem out of place to me (I raised three rowdy sons). It takes a lot of practice to learn to channel and manage strong emotions/hormones and Arturo was still very young. As I recall, the grammar school days of "liking" a particular boy or girl always seemed to involve some sort of shoving or torment.....that was how you knew somebody "liked" you.

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Unread postby Liz » Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:39 pm

nebraska wrote:I was disappointed when he took the cameo, and I was shocked when he didn't follow through with his "Penance", part of which was to return the cameo.I didn't see that one coming at all. The rest didn't seem out of place to me (I raised three rowdy sons). It takes a lot of practice to learn to channel and manage strong emotions/hormones and Arturo was still very young. As I recall, the grammar school days of "liking" a particular boy or girl always seemed to involve some sort of shoving or torment.....that was how you knew somebody "liked" you.


:biglaugh: Those were the days! I remember telling my daughter about this phenomenon a few years ago when some boy was annoying her all the time and she didn't believe me.
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Unread postby stroch » Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:27 pm

Arturo really did hurt Rosa with the shove into the snow -- at least I though that was how she developed pneumonia.

I was most upset at throwing away the cameo--his wanton destruction of a beautiful object, and depriving his mother ever after.

The stealing and anger at rejection are easier to accept.

One thing that Arturo doesn't seem to have learned is that the church teaches that sins are forgiven by true sorrow for having done wrong, and a sincere desire not to do wrong again. You have to avoid people and places you know are likely to cause you to err, make restitution (like returning stolen items), and fight against your weaknesses.

He seems to believe in magic instead.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Fri Sep 14, 2007 8:45 pm

stroch wrote:Arturo really did hurt Rosa with the shove into the snow -- at least I though that was how she developed pneumonia.

I was wondering if we were supposed to reach that sad conclusion....?
:-/ :-?
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:23 pm

Betty Sue wrote:
stroch wrote:Arturo really did hurt Rosa with the shove into the snow -- at least I though that was how she developed pneumonia.

I was wondering if we were supposed to reach that sad conclusion....?
:-/ :-?


Say it isn't so. :-/ I had not gone there at all. How tragic is that?
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Unread postby stroch » Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:30 pm

i really did not pay too much attention to the shove, but then when Rosa was absent form school and Arturo found out she had died, it all clicked, and I re-read the scene. It is also foreshadowed in the "I wish she were dead" passages.
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Unread postby suec » Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:00 am

Yes, it's foreshadowed with the fact that what he gives her is a black cameo, too. That's one of the things it symbolises to me: death. Not just literal death either, but also the death of hopes and dreams, and that that is why it has been put away by Maria - although it is also normal to have these items that never see the light of day. But along with the message from Svevo, and the photo that shows the Maria as she used to be, that Maria who is to all intents and purposes now dead, in a way, it takes on that layer of meaning for me.

Arturo loves Rosa, in his way, but he attacks her, wishes her dead, and I agree that his action probably does lead inadvertently to her death. She represents all his heart's desires, for example her popularity, and what is unattainable. I think he makes her that because of the way he is anyway, and certainly after he has given her the cameo. And then he destroys her, in his fantasy, and in his action. It seems to me that that this is what Fante is suggesting, a theme of the book. Our hopes, dreams, delusions, are born out of us, but we destroy them too, by our own impulses and actions. That is why he has Arturo tossing away the cameo. He can run to the priest in his fear as much as he likes, but although he has the means to make it right - insofar as he could - he's never going to. I think the section with the cameo is the pivotal part of the book.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sat Sep 15, 2007 8:36 am

:bawl: :bawl: :bawl: :bawl: I think I am glad I didn't realize all this while I was reading the book -- all these dark things are devastating!

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Unread postby Bix » Sat Sep 15, 2007 9:55 am

Wow! :dunce: I didn't make that connection either! As always, you all enlighten and educate me and make reading an even greater pleasure. Thanks! Have a great weekend, everyone.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sat Sep 15, 2007 10:17 am

nebraska wrote::bawl: :bawl: :bawl: :bawl: I think I am glad I didn't realize all this while I was reading the book -- all these dark things are devastating!

I'm with you! :bawl: Yikes, suec!! No wonder I hated that part of the book. Say it isn't so! :baby:
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Unread postby Parlez » Sat Sep 15, 2007 10:46 am

Very nice interpretation, suec ~ well, 'nice' probably isn't the right word (!) but certainly profound and insightful! It did seem that by throwing away the cameo Arturo was likewise throwing away any hope of his life ever having beauty or value. It seemed like he was killing those things, intentionally, leaving only brutality and rage to rule the day. I hadn't seen the object in life-and-death terms, but it works ~ unfortunately.
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Unread postby LiMoss » Sat Sep 15, 2007 11:48 am

suec wrote:I think he makes her that because of the way he is anyway, and certainly after he has given her the cameo. And then he destroys her, in his fantasy, and in his action. It seems to me that that this is what Fante is suggesting, a theme of the book. Our hopes, dreams, delusions, are born out of us, but we destroy them too, by our own impulses and actions.



This is so beautifully said, suec, I just had to quote it again. I think you're right on the mark.

I thought Arturo taking the cameo was bad enough - but it especially bothered me that he took it in spite of the note that was inside from his father to his mother. It was obviously something Svevo was very proud to have been able to give Maria. (I wonder why it was stored, rather than out where she could wear it.)

Anyway, to me it was a very heartless act, and like most of Arturo's decisions, completely self-centered. (Hmmm... like father like son.) When he tossed it away after Rosa returned it, rather than slipping it back where he found it, I was really surprised. I shouldn't have been, because it was right in line with his personality, but I was.

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Unread postby Liz » Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:18 pm

All of this symbolism is really interesting, and I wonder if it was intentional. I’m wondering if the cameo incident really occurred, and if there really was a Rosa and she really died. I’m wondering now if part of the reason that Fante did not want to go back and read his book is because his experience with Rosa was just too painful and that he had suffered all of his life with the guilt from the cameo incident….and his fears that he caused her to get pneumonia—founded or unfounded.

LiMoss, I think that she had it hidden away because that was her way of protecting it, keeping it safe (so she thought). My parents spent their lives keeping all of their good things hidden or protected (jewelry, clothes, dishes, couches, me). I wonder if it was a common thing among generations in the past.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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