Louis De Bernieres realistically illustrates the terrible consequences that the Second World War had on the world, but in more depth he focuses on the mental and physical impact it had on the soldiers. Despite many of the soldiers being bitter enemies, all of the men were ‘united’ in the fight to defend their home nations; also many of the men believed it was patriotic, and believed they would gain a heroes welcome, when, or if they ever return.
Mandras first laid eyes upon Pelagia in chapter 3, upon him being shot by a bent nail from Velisarios’ cannon, which in turn was the reason Mandras was brought to Doctor Iannis’ house. Mandras suddenly opened his eyes and found himself gazing into another pair of eyes, and tenderly thought, “I became aware of my destiny”, which could suggest that it could be a case of ‘love at first sight’. Pelagia, in scene 7 could almost feel Mandras’ gaze as ‘though it were a hot caress’, appreciating her every move; and in response to this Pelagia subconsciously began swaying her hips and tripping over her feet.
In comparison to this, upon Captain Corelli spotting Pelagia before they had been introduced, he reacted to her beautiful appearance by shouting, “Bella bambina at nine o’clock, Eyes left”, to his Regiment, despite this; Pelagia was restricted from responding to the event by her father, who firmly orders, “Don’t laugh”. Later that evening, Corelli arrives at Dr Iannis’ premises and slowly admires its surroundings and sets his eyes on “a young woman with dark eyes… As a result of Corelli acting foolishly towards Pelagia, Corelli gains a smile from her, “against her will and against her resolution. ” Despite Mandras being a countryman of Cephallonia, and Corelli being part of the Italian invading force, both men react to Pelagia’s beauty in a similar way, and both seem to gain a similar response from this very woman. As chapter 11 unfolds, Mandras reveals how he can’t be himself around Pelagia, and how, “one minute I’m up the olive tree being Tarzan, and… pretending to have a fight with the goat”.
Mandras seems to believe it is his responsibility to entertain Pelagia, rather than get to know her more intimately, and to allow their relationship to grow. The audience certainly picks up when Pelagia gives reasoning for her ‘love’ for Mandras, stating, “He’s so beautiful… He made my stomach ache with laughing before he fell out of the tree. That’s when I knew that I loved him. ” This suggests everything but love, because Pelagia mainly has lust for Mandras, as she is only in love with his physical appearance.
In comparison, in chapter 25, Corelli does act slightly foolish to entertain Pelagia; however this trait doesn’t play a major role in Pelagia’s mind, about how her affection develops for Corelli. The Iannis household wanted Corelli to stay for diverse reasons, Dr Iannis wanted him to stay so he could ‘browbeat’ him, however, Pelagia thought, “could it be that there was something inside her that wanted this foreigner, this interloper, to stay? ” Also, further on in chapter 45, it becomes apparent how Pelagia describes, with Corelli, “… he would always remember that she laughed”.
This allows the audience an insight into how Pelagia and Corelli together would indulge in genuine laughter and happiness together, whereas it was a one way relationship with Mandras, in the sense that Pelagia would mainly laugh at Mandras’ actions. In chapter 25, Captain Corelli, being comforted by Pelagia in conversation, reveals how, “When I joined… I had a plan to become the mandolin player in Italy, and then I would leave the army and earn a living”, this shows how Corelli didn’t join the army simply because of the war.
On the contrary, Mandras exposes how he trusts in himself, in his belief that, “No man is a man until he has been a soldier. I’ll be worth a dowry then”, this establishes how he thinks he has to prove himself to his fellow islanders. What leads to Mandras wanting go to a great war, is that he seems to be competing with Dr Iannis, who was a man with great respect, who has, “sailed all over the world. “, and how Mandras doesn’t, “… have any stories and souvenirs”.
When Mandras arrives home, from the war, he is presented with the waistcoat that Pelagia had made for him, but in a sudden outburst, Mandras describes how the, “pattern is a little different on each side”, which can be interpreted, and can describe the current state of their relationship, both of them are extremely different . In disbelief Mandras tries to put right what he had said, and tells Pelagia, “This is so beautiful… It’s a masterpiece”; which seems to show how Mandras is going to try and correct their relationship despite all of its imperfections.