Study Guide

The Leopard Chapter 8

By Giuseppe di Lampedusa

Chapter 8

  • We're all the way into the twentieth century now (1910 to be exact), and it's been twenty-two years since Prince Fabrizio passed away. None of Fabrizio's three daughters have ever married, and now they're three old women living together in the old family house.
  • A local religious official visits the house to inspect some of the religious objects in it. Mass is still delivered at the Salina family chapel, but the church is worried that some of the relics in the chapel are inappropriate. This totally offends the pride of the Salina women, but they let the guy in anyway.
  • On his first visit, the official praises everything he finds in the chapel that the sisters have built.
  • Once he's away, though, he tells his assistant that there's no way the images and relics in the church are decent. They'll have to get rid of most of them if mass is going to continue being delivered in the sisters' chapel.
  • The sisters get word that their cousin Angelica, "The Princess," is arriving at the house. Like the sisters, Angelica is now seventy years old. Her husband Tancredi has died in the past few years (again, this is mentioned casually). The women discuss some details about an upcoming war memorial ceremony for Tancredi's lifetime of service.
  • An Italian senator shows up at the house as a guest and tells Concetta how much Tancredi used to talk about her. Concetta is flattered, especially since Tancredi left her for Angelica way back in the day.
  • When she hears about Tancredi praising her, Concetta feels as if she's wasted her life by feeling too proud of who she is. The same goes for her sisters. Now the three of them are all alone, with nothing but the memories of their royal heritage.
  • When Angelica and the senator leave, the senator asks whether he did anything to offend Concetta. Angelica tells him that Concetta used to be in love with Tancredi, and that she no doubt got sad at hearing how much he used to talk about her.
  • A few days later, the local Cardinal of the Catholic Church shows up and takes away a bunch of religious artifacts from the sisters' chapel. He says he's going to have them analyzed before deciding whether they belong in the chapel.
  • Out of the dozens of relics, only five are deemed authentic and acceptable by the Cardinal. He advises the sisters to throw out the rest.
  • Concetta doesn't know what to think, feeling like her family history is entirely behind her and that there's no future for her or her sisters, since none of them have had children.
  • She looks at Bendicò across the room. No, don't worry. The dog hasn't lived to be fifty years old. The family had him stuffed and preserved when he died. It's only now that Concetta decides to let go of the past and throw him in the trash.
  • As Bendicò is being thrown out, Concetta glances out the window. For a moment, she swears she can see the dog's four legs running. But it's not a dog anymore. It's a leopard. The glimpse lasts only a second, though. Then she realizes that it's just Bendicò falling into the trash bin with the rest of the day's garbage.