Bandini Question #21 ~ The Rosary for Rosa

by John Fante

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Bandini Question #21 ~ The Rosary for Rosa

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:46 am

pg. 248-249:

“The rosary for Rosa.

He was there that Sunday afternoon, kneeling with his classmates at the Blessed Virgin’s Altar. Far down in front, their dark heads raised to the waxon Madonna, were Rosa’s parents. They were such big people, there was so much of them to be shaken and convulsed as the priest’s dry intonation floated through the cold church like a tired bird doomed to lift its wings once more on a journey that had no end. This was what happened when you died: Some day he would be dead and somewhere on the earth this would happen again. He would not be there but it was not necessary to be there, for this would already be a memory. He would be dead, and yet the living would not be unknown to him, for this would happen again, a memory out of life before it had been lived.

Rosa, my Rosa, I cannot believe that you hated me, for there is no hate where you are now, here among us and yet far away. I am only a boy Rosa, and the mystery of where you are is no mystery when I think of the beauty of your face and the laughter of your galoshes when you walked down the hall. Because you were such a honey, Rosa, you were such a good girl, and I wanted you, and a fellow can’t be so bad if he loves a girl so good as you. And if you hate me now, Rosa, and I cannot believe that you hate me now, then look upon my grief and believe that I want you here, for that is good too. I know that you cannot come back, Rosa my true love, but there is in this cold church this afternoon a dream of your presence, a comfort in your forgiveness, a sadness that I cannot touch you, because I love you and I will love you forever, and when they gather on some tomorrow for me, then I shall have known it even before they gather, and it will not be strange to us.”


What do you think of Arturo’s thoughts?
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:09 pm

I was impressed. I had written after these passages, "positive and spiritual" because I was surprised that it was positive and spiritual. I think his thinking was very mature and sincere, and that it showed that there is hope for the boy! :cool: He was being very loving even though he had not yet found out that Gertie had lied to him about Rosa's feelings towards him. It was also impressive that a major reason he gave for loving Rosa was that she was "such a good girl." :cloud9:
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Unread postby Parlez » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:27 pm

Who knew the kid had a metaphysical bent?!?
These passages are beautifully written, and offer a point of view that is surprisingly sophisticated, particularly in light of Arturo's rough, immature behavior. I think it offers a glimpse into the thoughtful interior side of a kid with a very prickly exterior. I really love the sentiment he expresses here. There is hope for Arturo!
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:50 pm

Thanks for starting us off again, Betty Sue. As you and Parlez have expressed, I think he is showing his loving and spiritual side here. Rosa’s death must have made a major impression on Arturo…..and caused after effects that lasted for years afterward. The deaths of 2 of my classmates (one in 2nd grade and one in high school) made a major impression on me at the time, that I still have not forgotten….and these two were not even close friends, let alone the object of my love. Nor were they deaths for which I could have been directly or indirectly responsible. So I see this event as being a turning point in his life. And thus, I find it natural for him to be thinking these sensitive thoughts.

I’m still not sure what he means by the last line, though. Could it be that he is trying to say that he will meet her in heaven some day?
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:38 pm

Oh, Liz, I had forgotten that we decided he may have had some responsibility for her death. In that case, when he mentioned having "a comfort in your forgiveness," he was really taking a wonderful leap to feel that way instead of wallowing in some useless guilt.
As for that last line, it's mysterious to me... :-?
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Unread postby nebraska » Mon Sep 24, 2007 6:27 pm

I think I have been a little more forgiving of Arturo over all, thinking of him more as an ordinary boy going through ordinary boy phases than a monstrous replica of his father. So his thoughts at the rosary didn't seem completely out of character for me.

I think most of us have profound thoughts when we are face to face with the reality of human mortality. We vow to make more time to see the people we care about, to smell more roses, to do the things we really desire before it is too late. And then rapidly get back to our daily lives ...... but for that time at a funeral home, at a cemetery, we really do some deep thinking. I suppose it wouldn't be so strange for a kid Arturo's age to have some sort of epiphany at such a time.

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Unread postby suec » Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:28 pm

I'd expect Arturo to be profoundly affected by what has happened, but to me, this is where Fante shows himself. I can't explain it well; it's late where I am now and my brain isn't up to it. But it is sophistixated writing and besides, it reads like a sister passage to the preface, separated by age and time, but born from the same heart. There are echoes of words, for one thing.
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Unread postby Bermuda » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:20 pm

Finally, we learned there was a compassionate, sensitive, and loving heart still beating somewhere within that very troubled 14 year old boy. He had to face the reality of life and he started to take a look at himself and his true feelings towards Rosa.

"Death: Nature's way of making you slow down." ~ Evan Esar
Last edited by Bermuda on Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Parlez » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:32 pm

suec wrote:I'd expect Arturo to be profoundly affected by what has happened, but to me, this is where Fante shows himself. I can't explain it well; it's late where I am now and my brain isn't up to it. But it is sophistixated writing and besides, it reads like a sister passage to the preface, separated by age and time, but born from the same heart. There are echoes of words, for one thing.

I agree, suec. This seems to be Fante speaking...expressing his poetic soul. As for the last sentence, I think it's best to just read the flow of the passage and not pick out specific lines for interpretation. I don't know, but when I first read the whole thing it made perfect sense but when I went back and tried to define just what the last line meant, it slipped away. Together, these beautiful lines speak to the reader on a different, more subconscious, level I think.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:38 pm

suec, I agree we are hearing Fante here. I'm looking forward to your comparison with the preface. One line from the preface caught my attention, "I am fearful, I cannot bear being exposed by my own work." There is something raw and powerful in this passage, a little too sophisticated for Arturo, but I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt!

This was one of my favorite passages, beautifully written! I am baffled by the last line too, I was hoping someone could shed some light.


I love you and I will love you forever, and when they gather on some tomorrow for me, then I shall have known it even before they gather, and it will not be strange to us.


:perplexed:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:05 pm

I agree with Suec, too, that it is Fante coming out. But we do know that Fante is Arturo and he is writing about Arturo's experiences. And this is the point where he could have grown up quite a bit. And then it is Fante's words now reflecting on that memory.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:35 pm

Parlez wrote:
suec wrote:I'd expect Arturo to be profoundly affected by what has happened, but to me, this is where Fante shows himself. I can't explain it well; it's late where I am now and my brain isn't up to it. But it is sophistixated writing and besides, it reads like a sister passage to the preface, separated by age and time, but born from the same heart. There are echoes of words, for one thing.

I agree, suec. This seems to be Fante speaking...expressing his poetic soul. As for the last sentence, I think it's best to just read the flow of the passage and not pick out specific lines for interpretation. I don't know, but when I first read the whole thing it made perfect sense but when I went back and tried to define just what the last line meant, it slipped away. Together, these beautiful lines speak to the reader on a different, more subconscious, level I think.


Parlez, we must have been posting at the same time. I agree with you about the passage as a whole. The first time I read it I thought it was so beautifully written and seemed to make sense just like you said. It was only when I tried to take in pieces that I had a hard time with it. I like your idea of it speaking to the reader in a poetic, subconscious level. :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Bermuda » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:04 pm

(Each Christian denomination has their own take on heaven and how we might arrive there.)

OK, I am no expert on Catholic theology, but I kept reading this "rosary for Rosa" passage over and over. Maybe, someone who is more well read in this Catholic subject would be able to answer this question more intelligently. Here are my thoughts as to what Arturo might have been thinking :

Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints. (This is what the Catholic theologians have to say.) Basically, we may be physically separated from each other by death, but we remain united to each other in prayer in three ways:

1. Church Triumphant-Those souls who are perfected and are worthy to have a place in heaven.
2. Church Expectant- Those souls who have died with unrepentant sins, and who are not completely worthy to spend eternity in heaven until these sins and imperfections have been cleansed in some way while making restitution in purgatory or by others who are still praying for them on earth. They in turn, can also pray for people still alive on earth.
3. Church Militant- Those still alive on earth

Arturo believes that Rosa was a good girl and has earned a place in "heaven". The rosary prayers said by her classmates are for her immortal soul to help aid with the cleansing of imperfections if there are still any residual ones remaining on her soul.(purgatory). He believes Rosa does not hate him, and he believes that she is also praying for him whether it be in heaven or purgatory. He knows that one day he too will also die, and hopefully people will also be praying for his immortal soul. According to Catholic doctrine, he believes that one day he will be reunited with her again in eternal life. Once perfected in heaven, he and Rosa will be able to understand how they truly felt about each other- something that eluded them while they were young and inexperienced on this earth.
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:50 pm

Bermuda wrote: Arturo believes that Rosa was a good girl and has earned a place in "heaven". The rosary prayers said by her classmates are for her immortal soul to help aid with the cleansing of imperfections if there are still any residual ones remaining on her soul.(purgatory). He believes Rosa does not hate him, and he believes that she is also praying for him whether it be in heaven or purgatory. He knows that one day he too will also die, and hopefully people will also be praying for his immortal soul. According to Catholic doctrine, he believes that one day he will be reunited with her again in eternal life. Once perfected in heaven, he and Rosa will be able to understand how they truly felt about each other- something that eluded them while they were young and inexperienced on this earth.


Bermuda, you seem to be pretty well versed on this subject…..better than me. Based on this knowledge of yours, this explanation seems very plausible. I especially like your last thought about being perfected in heaven.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:53 pm

Bermuda, what you say makes sense in the context of Catholic doctrine. Thank you for the extra research! :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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