Week #1 – Article Example
An Analysis of Italo Calvino’s “The Tribe with Its Eyes on the Sky” The tribe of coconut gatherers, as described by Calvino, seems to derive immense pleasure from watching the “new celestial bodies” in the sky (122). They place great trust in the promises of the Gods. They respect their witch doctors who authoritatively interpret what the villagers are seeing in the sky as signifying that their misery and poverty is about to come to an end (Calvino 122). This shows that traditional beliefs and superstition play a significant role in their attempt to understand daily occurrences. The story juxtaposes images of scientific advancement and modernity against superstition and a remote rural existence. Calvino describes the community as living in huts of straw and mud (122) while also mentioning that away from the village there is a city of white sahibs that will also be destroyed by the nuclear missile (123). Modern weaponry such as guided nuclear missiles is mentioned against the community’s crude axes, spears and blowpipes. An image of poverty-stricken coconut gatherers suffering from Trachoma (Calvino 122) is placed side by side with that of seemingly sophisticated agents of the Nicer Nut Corporation, feet up on their table offices, sipping whisky. Poverty and opulence, modernity and tradition, exist side by side- rarely interacting apart from when the poor villagers are delivering coconut to the corporation.
Is the relationship between the Nicer Nut Corporation and the coconut gatherers based on equality and fairness? The manner in which the corporation treats the gatherers suggests the opposite. The corporation imposes prices on the poor gatherers (Calvino 124). They also have to work multiple shifts to reach the targets set by the contract. This description creates an image of corporate exploitation meted out against impoverished people with no alternative market for their goods.
Overall, it is easy for one to dismiss the tribesmen’s existence as primitive. However, a keen audience will discover that the coconut gatherers are a very observant and critical people. The narrator points out that the explosions are poisoning the fish found in the sea (Calvino 124). This shows awareness to the effects of industries on the environment. The last paragraph ends with the narrator pointing out “a tribe that relies entirely on the will of shooting stars, whatever fortune they may bring will always be selling off its coconuts cheap” (Calvino 124). This portrays an acute awareness to the faults and foibles of the community’s belief in superstition.
Calvino, Italo. “The Tribe with its Eyes on the Sky”. Numbers in the Dark. New York: Penguin Books Limited, Print, 2013.