The Jar by Luigi Pirandello: Summary and Analysis

The Jar is primarily the story of Lollo Zirafa and it is also the story of Zi' Dima and his comic plight. The action and reaction between these two stories define the meaning of the whole. Lollo Zirafa was a farmer at Primosole. That year his olive crop was very good. He thought that the five old jars would not be sufficient to hold all the oil of that harvest, so he placed an order to make a great jar. He paid four florins for the jar. The new jar was placed in the crushing shed for a few days.

Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

The harvesting of the olives had begun. Lollo Zirafa had been very angry because he had to supervise the men who were beating down the olives and also a number of other people who were bringing manure on the mules. He would threaten all of the workers. He would rush here and there and look about him like a wolf.

At the end of the third day's work three workers went to the crushing Shed to replace the Iadders and the poles in the shed. They were frightened when they saw the new jar in two pieces. One of them wanted to go away secretly, but the second one called Lollo Zirafa. When the farmer saw the damage, he poured his anger on the workers. He wondered who broke the jar and why. But he was sure that it was not broken when it arrived from the pottery. When the master's anger was spent, the workers suggested that he should call Zi' Dima, who would repair it as good as the new one with his marvelous cement. Zi' Dima arrived at Primosole with his equipment. He was an old man. He looked sad and dissatisfied. He always suspected that people wanted to steal the secret of his cement. He did not allow Lollo Zirafa to see it. He wanted to show him only the result. He examined the jar and the broken piece wearing his spectacles and said that the cement would hold. But Lollo Zirafa did not trust cement alone. He wanted Zi' Dima to use rivets as well. Lollo insisted on using both cement and rivets.

Zi' Dima started to make holes in the jar and in the broken piece. The more he worked, the more angry he became. After boring the holes, he cut rivets with his pliers. Then he called one of the workers to help him. He opened the tin and took the cement out. Then he began to spread it all round the broken piece and along the broken edge of the jar. Taking the pliers and the rivets he went into the jar. He asked the worker to hold the piece up and fit it closely into the jar. He put the rivets into the holes and twisted them with his pliers. In an hour the work was complete and he wanted to come out. But the neck of the jar was narrow. He had ignored the neck because he was lost in his sorrow. He could not come out without breaking the jar. The worker began to laugh. Lollo Zirafa also arrived there. He was surprised to see Zi' Dima imprisoned in the jar. It was a new case. He needed the lawyer's advice. But before he went to the city, he gave Zi' Dima five lire for the repair and also some food. The lawyer could not stop laughing when he heard this story. Then he advised Lollo Zirafa to free Zi' Dima and make him pay for the loss caused by his stupidity. But the value of the jar would be estimated by Zi' Dima himself. After this he hurriedly returned home. He found Zi' Dima happy inside the jar. Lollo Zirafa asked him the present value of the jar. And he said that Zi' Dima could come out if he paid him its present value. Zi' Dima liked to stay there, but he did not like to pay anything. Lollo Zirafa and his lawyer had not foreseen this new situation.

After Lollo had gone into the farmhouse, Zi' Dima sent one of the workers to the tavern to make the necessary purchases. The workers had planned to pass the night there. They drank and danced. Zi' Dima sang. At night Lollo Zirafa was awakened by the noise. He could not control himself. He ran down like a mad bull and pushed the jar down. It started rolling down the slope. It hit an olive tree and broke into pieces and Zi' Dima became the winner because he could come out without paying anything.

The writer’s attitude to the subject matter or tone of the story is humorous and indulgent. The writer makes us laugh at Lollo when people make him lose his temper by shouting out, "Saddle the mule" and later "Go and look up your pocket book." We laugh when Lollo starts crying when his jar is broken. We can't stop laughing like Lollo's lawyer when we find Zi' Dima imprisoned inside the jar. His unwillingness to pay and come out and his readiness to stay inside make us chuckle. The workers pass the night dancing round the jar with Zi' Dima inside and Zi' Dima also sings at the top of his voice seems to be really funny. Finally, when Lollo rushes down like a mad bull and gives the jar a push, it starts rolling down and hits an olive tree. Then Zi' Dima comes out without paying any money. It is also really wonderful.

The interplay of peculiar obsession between the main two characters Lollo Zirafa and Zi'Dime lead towards the conflict between them which finally resulted in nothing but loss. Zi' Dima had a fixed idea that his invention was really valuable. He had invented a marvelous cement. Once it had set, nobody could loosen it even with a hammer. But he seemed always dissatisfied and sad because people never regarded him an inventor. When Lollo asked him to use rivets along with the cement, he was angry and ready to give up the work. He was an obstinate fellow. He insisted on using the cement only. But he had to repair the jar as Lollo ordered him. So he was angry when he was boring the holes in the jar and in the broken piece. He was upset all the time. In his grievance he could not think that he would be confined there. Because of his obsession he had to be angry, stupid and ridiculous.

Similarly, Lollo Zirafa had a fixed idea in his mind that he was always right and other people were wrong. To prove himself right, he would quarrel with other people for every trifle. He was half-ruined because he had to spend large sums of money on court fees and lawyers' bills. In all cases he had to pay the cost of both sides. People would laugh at him for his obsession. He was quite selfish and would bully the weak workers. He would threaten them. When his jar was broken, Zi' Dima wanted to use the cement to repair the damage. But Lollo insisted on using rivets as well. When Zi' Dima was imprisoned in the jar, he gave him his wage and some food just to show that he was right. After he returned from the lawyer, he did not allow Zi' Dima to come out of the jar until he paid the present value of the jar. Like Zi' Dima he was obstinate and bad-tempered.

In conclusion, this story gives the great lesson to the readers that we should not be obsessed and should not try to prove those things which are not right in any aspects. The two characters’ obsession from the story, teach us that we should always be thoughtful, serious and should control our temper.

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Luigi Pirandello: Biography