Getting The Infamous Essay, Research Paper
Suppose one day, you walk out of your manager’s office, box in hand, head held low, walking towards your cubicle. Thinking just minutes before you entered the manager’s office you were somebody, you had a purpose to society, and a job that needed to be filled. You based your identity on your role in society. But now, jobless, your self-esteem is at rock bottom, you have nothing to do, your identity had been shattered. Maybe you base your life around your identity which keeps you sane, you plea with the manager, showing your good works and improvements to the company. But still, you weren’t able to convince your manager so you plunge out the 20-store building. Some people would just move on and find another role in society in a something similar or completely different. But there are those who are pessimistic and have to do this one specific job that they feel fulfills their life. Once taken away from them, their whole structure of a being falls apart shortly. In the story “The Non existent Knight,” Calvino creates two characters, Agilulf and Torrismund, with this type of identity.
Agilulf had no physical existence except for his voice. Along with having no friends or family, he felt being a knight is all that he could be to identify himself with everyone else. It brings him to destruction at the end of the story because someone exposes him to be falsely recognized as a knight. Torrismund case of identity was with his status in power and hierarchy. Because he lost his ranking, he ventures off looking for ways to satisfy his royal status. Although he did not kill himself, he did go through much effort to regain his royal self by any means.
Agilulf’s goal was to serve and protect his country by following the code of knighthood. He helped out in doing various tasks, which were crucial to the war. Provided food rations so that food can be evenly distributed and not wasted. He also put dead people at peace by burying them. The most crucial part about himself was the identity of Knighthood. At the feast, Torrismund gave his testimony of the validity of Sophrainas’s virginity. “Yes, I do contest that. Fifteen years ago Sophronia, the King of Scotland’s daughter, was no virgin… Sophronia is my mother.”(78-79) Thus causing Agilulf existence to go up in question. His whole existence had solely relied upon Sophronia being a virgin at the time he came to rescue her from some bad people. Without this significant event, Agliluf would be a wandering warrior without any affiliation on behalf of him.
“Before battling for Sophronia when she was attacked by bandits, and saving her virtue, he had been a simple nameless warrior in white armor wandering round the world at a venture; or rather (as was soon known) empty white armor, with no warrior inside. His deed in defense of Sophronia had given him the right to be an armored knight.”(79)
Without saving this virgin from danger he can’t be declared a knight. “Agilulf decides to put her for refuge in a cave and then together with his squire go to Charlemagne’s camp and announce her virginity to be still intact and so also the legitimacy of his name”(114)
The extent of the elements that makes Agilulf who he is, is not at all controlled by himself, but rather the testimony of Sophronia as she speaks of that night when Agilulf had saved her from the bandits. If she was to lie and say she was not a virgin at that time, then Agilulf had the right of being called a knight, but was falsely answered by Sophronia. On the other hand, which occurred in the book, Sophronia did declare that she was a virgin at that time, thus giving rightful ownership of the class of knighthood. But sadly enough Agilulf did not stay to hear it and caused himself to disintegrate to thin air. Because his whole existence was based around this one fact, he felt that he was not contributing to society and thus leaves to become nothing.
Torrismund was a young character in the story. He grew up thinking that he was born from a Sophronia, which he kept quiet until that one night. Because of this, he always wanted to be recognized by someone as his or her son. He never had that, but was told that his father was one of the men from the Knights of the Holy Grail. Since he declared to everyone that he is the son of Sophronia, it caused his identity, son of the Duke of Cornwall, to be void, which forfeited his military rights and other benefits. But if he were to find a Knight of the Holy Grail, he right would be restored. “If you succeed in finding the Knights of the Holy Grail and get them to recognize you as son of the whole Order collectively, then your military rights, in view of the Order’s prerogatives, would be no different from those you had as scion of a noble house.”(84)
With his identity crises, he was an ordinary man again, who knew how to fight with a sword, but had no authority to do so. Torrismund ventures off to look for the Knights of the Holy Grail to see if they would call him a son. He comes by and visits a town and asks for some refuge and food. Later, he catches up with the Knights of the Holy Grail and tries to join then and get then to pronounce him as a son. As they venture, they come across the town again and ask the villagers for food for all the Knights of the Holy Grail. The villagers don’t even have enough to feed themselves and ask for them to skip this time.
“We wish to put forward the fact that the year had been a very bad one over the whole land of Koolwalden. We are at our wits’ end even to feed our children. Famine touches rich and poor. Pious Knights, we have come humbly to ask you to forgo out tribute just this time”(123)
At hearing this, the Knights are upset and plan to pillage the whole village. ” the Knights advanced with set lances towards the poor peasants.”(123) Torrismund is at a struggle in getting his status back, but he feels that this is wrong and joins side with the peasants. Losing his chances of having status again, he fights against the Knights. The Knights leave because of their sense of the “Grail” was telling them to. Torrismund was to go too to find Sophronia and figure out who he really is. But the villagers were now willing to make Torrismund a king like person if he decided to stay with them. “You’re a knight, but you’re generous! At last one who is! Stay with us! Tell us what you want; we’ll give it to you.”(125) But again he had lost his identity and must move on “I can’t stay with you I don’t know who I am Farewell”(125)
Torrismund left and headed towards the shores of Brittany looking for shelter and finds a cave. There, he doesn’t know its Sophronia and ends up sleeping with her. The next morning he finds out that it was Sophronia who was with him in bed and she reveals his whole identity. “In truth, Torrismund is not my son, but my brother or rather half-brother.”(129) Later understanding the blood ties, “I [am born] of the Queen and the Sacred Order.”(131) Thus, understanding where he came from he can identify himself as a Knight.
The two of these characters go through much trouble to find their true identity. At the end, one discovers that they are what they were before. Agilulf and Torrismund were still knights. If only Agilulf had stayed longer for Sophronia explanation then he would still see his role to society. Was it really worth the trouble to go and find out your true self and where you belong? For Torrismund, now he knows the truth and can rest and not have to live a lie in being the son of Duke of Cornwall, but rather a Queen and a Knight of the Holy Grail. Unfortunate for Agilulf, since he was the mildest, and most honorable knight, vanished and was never seen from again. If Torrismund had never mentioned any of his pasts, Agilulf would have still been around.
“The Nonexistent Knight” Italo Calvino 1962