Bel Canto Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Bel Canto : Chapter 9

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Summary Chapter 9:

In the morning, Roxane does not come down to the piano at her usual time, but sleeps in. Mr. Hosokawa is sleepy as well. Kato is puzzled. Beatriz and Carmen know the secret, of course, but they are not telling. Then, in the absence of Roxane, someone else begins to sing. It is Cesar, singing an aria from the opera Tosca that he has heard Roxane sing. He is singing very well. Then he sings another aria. Everyone listens, including Roxane, who has just come down the stairs. She is extremely impressed. She grabs his wrist and stops him because he is approaching a high C in the music that he cannot possibly manage. Cesar does not understand and is confused at being asked to stop. He runs away just as the whole room breaks into applause at his performance. Carmen finds him high in a tree in the garden. He is upset and refuses to come down. He thinks he made a fool of himself.

On behalf of Roxane, Carmen asks General Benjamin if Roxane may go outside in order to coax Cesar down from the tree. Up to this point, no hostage has been allowed outside. Surprisingly, General Benjamin agrees to the request andgoes even further, saying that all the hostages should be taken outside. When the hostages hear this and see the soldiers loading their weapons they are confused and think they may be about to be shot, but Gen talks to Benjamin and then reassures the hostages that they will be all right.

Outside, Roxane tells Cesar that he sings wonderfully and she wants to be his teacher. At first he does not believe her but eventually he comes down from the tree.

LotharFalken takes advantage of being outside by running around the outer edges of the lawn. Some of the other hostages soon join him, glad of the opportunity to exercise. Ruben, Oscar Mendoza, and Father Arguedas do some gardening. They call Ishmael over, and soon a deal is worked out whereby, when the hostage standoff is resolved, Ishmael will live in the vice presidential house and work a few miles away for Oscar.



Life gets better for the hostages as they are allowed outside on a beautiful sunny day. The generosity of Ruben and Oscar toward Ishmael is another sign of the barriers between hostage and terrorist breaking down almost completely, as is Roxane’s willingness to coach Cesar in singing. Father Arguedas sounds a warning note, however, which has been heard quietly before in the last couple of chapters. (In chapter 8, for example, Messner knows that the government is building a tunnel to the house, but of course as a neutral intermediary he cannot tell anyone.) The priest realizes that although the barriers between terrorist and hostage appear to be going down, in reality they still exist: they are on opposite sides, and he is aware that one day there will be a reckoning. There is no point in talking about such an idyllic future.


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