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Bandini Question #20 - Tony the Rooster
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 10:04 am
Pg. 231. "Chicken for dinner. He stood in the door and reeled as the fragrance of roast chicken filled his nostrils. Chicken, but how come? The only fowl left in the pen was Tony, the big rooster. His mother would never kill Tony. His mother loved that Tony with his jaunty thick comb and his fine strutting plumes. She had put red celluloid anklets on his spurred legs and laughed at his mighty swagger. But Tony it was: on the drainboard he saw the anklets broken in half like two red fingernails.
In a little while they tore him to pieces, tough though he was. But Maria did not touch him. She sat dipping bread into a yellow film of olive oil spread across her plate. Reminiscences of Tony: what a rooster he had been! They mused over his long reign in the chicken yard: they remembered him when. Maria dipped her bread in olive oil and stared."
Let’s talk about Tony, the Rooster.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:24 am
"The deep days, the sad days." I think Tony the Rooster represented Maria giving the last thing she had to give, her beloved rooster. She gave it to her boys, who had tried to spare her by lying the night before, saying that they'd had bread and butter for supper, when, in reality, there had been no butter in the house for weeks. She'd prayed and prayed and kept the faith. Now she'd sacrificed the last bit of food, though she couldn't bear to eat it herself. When the boys realized all this, it overwhelmed them. Arturo was stricken, but it sent him on his quest to do something about it. "The deep days, the sad days."
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 12:31 pm
Suicide. That's the first word that comes to mind for me reading this scene. I think: this is how a family commits suicide; when a parent has come to the end of his or her rope and kills the last life-sustaining thing in their lives; it's over. Maria sacrifices the bird and in doing so sacrifices the future for herself and her children. I mean, the meal will be eaten and then what? What will the boys eat for their next meal? Nothing's left.
I go back to Maria's astounding lack of resourcefulness when it comes to problem solving. Her passivity and constant prayer simply do not serve this family in a life-sustaining way. I get the feeling Maria had given up on her family - given up on her life - a long time ago, and this was just the final act. She's resigned to the rooster's demise in the same way that she appears to be resigned to her family's slow, painful demise.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 12:45 pm
I agree, Parlez, that Maria had given up on doing anything helpful to the situation (or never tried at all?). I had been thinking of changing what I said: Maria was "giving the last thing she had to give" to "giving the last thing she thought she had to give. I guess there were many reasons why she felt beaten down and helpless, but I wish she would have found some little exhortation in her Bible that would have encouraged her to get up and into action.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:35 pm
He's strangely reminiscent of Svevo, who also is a crowing rooster, in his way but also in the destruction of what she loves, and in echoes of Svevo's shoes, with his celluloid anklets, and then the image of the two red fingernails. Too horrid! It's like a re-enactment, almost. I was unsure whether it represented a crisis of her faith, or an affirmation of it - a belief that God would provide the necessary afterwards. But I think I agree with Parlez. It does seem more like an act of hopelessness, with her comments that follow.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:51 pm
I really started to worry about Maria when she butchered her rooster.
It seemed to me that was the last thing she had that was truly hers personally as an indivdual woman, something that she enjoyed and loved just for herself, and when she butchered him it was like she was giving up the last thing that really meant anything to her. Of course she loved her children and of course she had something going on with Svevo .......but Tony was "hers" in a different personal sort of way. To me it was a sign that she had given up any hope of ever really living again.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:20 pm
I thought the rooster represented Svevo too, suec. She sacrifices the rooster and they have nothing left, just like Svevo sacrificed their family and left them with nothing. She certainly feels hopeless at this point and as you said, Parlez, she definitely lacking in the resource department but I suppose that is a sign of her deep depression feeling of hopelessness.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:21 pm
Wow! You Noodlemantras never cease to amaze me. Suec, the red fingernails metaphor seems so obvious to me now. (I knew it had to mean something) But I hadn’t caught the crowing or the anklets as being symbolic.
Parlez and Betty Sue, I get that she had given up. I think I got that when she went outside to the shed. But I hadn’t thought suicide.
I was looking at it rather simplistically, in that she had begun to run out of options and just didn’t care anymore—at least about herself. I think she was desperate to feed her family, and had lost her sense of reality and the consideration of other options (like Parlez had said). I think this desperation is similar to what drives a person to cannibalism. But she wasn’t that far gone yet. And that is why she couldn’t eat Tony. I don’t think she could stomach what she had to do, and thus couldn’t partake in the banquet.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:28 pm
I think Maria was masochistic and self-loathing, but not suicidal. By getting rid of Tony, she made herself helpless, by sending Svevo away she made herself pitiful, and by saying the rosary nightly she made herself a martyr. All these things guaranteed that she would then begin accepting the charity of her feared and hated mother. I suspect that this was not the first time this cycle happened in her marriage.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 6:25 pm
Her behavior that day was strange. She washed cloths ( as Arturo said on the wrong day of the week) and she only washed Svevo's cloths leaving the boys dirty cloths in their closets. With her comments while the boys ate Tony, I think she had done her last and was leaving all else to faith. It was as though she was using their last chance for raising chickens or having eggs as a final statement that she was giving up and thought her being a faithful person should make a miracle happen to save them.
"No matter what happens you have to have faith" she said. " I don't have fine dresses and I don't go to dances with him, but I have faith, and they should know it. But God knows it, and the Virgin Mary, and no matter what happens they know it. Sometimes I sit here all day,and no matter what happens they know because God died on the cross."
I agree with Parlez and Betty Sue that I wanted her to get up and do something positive on her own but she choose just the opposite to sit idle and rely on her faith. I think this is what finally brought Arturo to realize that no matter how afraid of his father he was, he had to go after him.
Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:20 pm
Oh, I like the nail/claw symbolism, suec! And Tony was the 'c**k of the walk' just like Svevo. Good call!