“The Colomber” Summary by Dino Buzzati

The Colomber Dino Buzzati Summary
“The Colomber” Summary

“The Colomber” is a short story by Dino Buzzati that can be found in the collection Restless Nights: Selected Stories. It’s one of Buzzati’s more popular stories and is sometimes anthologized. It’s about a legendary, malevolent sea monster known to sailors that chooses a target and then relentlessly pursues that individual until it can devour them. When a boy is chosen as its next victim, the father takes steps to protect his son. Here’s a summary of “The Colomber”.

“The Colomber” Summary

For Stefano Roi’s twelfth birthday, his father, a sea captain, takes him out on the ship. The boy wants to be a captain himself when he grows up. It’s a sunny, calm day and Stefano looks around the deck and asks the sailors questions. Going astern, he notices something in the distance that maintains a consistent proximity to the fast-moving vessel.

His father joins him and Stefano points it out. His father examines the ship’s wake through a telescope. He goes pale. It’s a colomber—a huge, mysterious shark known to be more clever than man. Once it chooses a victim, it pursues him until it devours him. Only the victim and blood relations can see the colomber. It has chosen Stefano.

His father tells Stefano he must stay away from the sea at all costs. He reverses course immediately and they return to port. Stefano is dropped off and the ship sets out again. From the shore, Stefano can still see the small black point out in the sea.

From then on Stefano’s father discourages him from thinking of the sea. He sends Stefano to an inland school. When he returns home on summer vacations and looks out from the pier, he’s astonished and stressed to still see the sinister shark in the distance.

Stefano becomes obsessed with the thought of this hostile creature stalking him, even far away in the safety of the city. Nevertheless, he grows to manhood and gets a good job in the city. When his father dies, he inherits a good sum of money and uses it to enjoy life.

At twenty-two, Stefano feels drawn to the danger. He returns to his village and takes up his father’s trade, which pleases his mother who was never told of the colomber.

Stefano sails and proves his worthiness. His fellow sailors can’t see anything in the ship’s wake, but he can. The threat seems to strengthen his resolve to sail.

He buys a small freighter and then a merchant ship, eventually making millions. He never considers retiring to the safety of land. His only desire is to continue going out to sea.

Stefano grows very old and bitter of his constant flight from the colomber. Feeling near death, he tells his second officer how he’s been pursued for fifty years. He feels a connection to the creature, which must also be old and tired now.

Stefano takes a harpoon, boards a small boat and has himself lowered into the sea. He hasn’t rowed far when the colomber appears at his side. As Stefano prepares to strike the colomber with the harpoon, it speaks. It’s tired from its long pursuit. It was following Stefano, not to devour him but to deliver something from the King of the Sea, which it displays on its tongue.

Stefano takes examines it. It’s the Perla del Mare, a large pearl that brings luck, power, love and peace of mind to its owner. Stefano laments ruining both of their lives. The colomber bids him goodbye and sinks.

Two months later, a small boat with a still-seated, sun-bleached skeleton holding a small round stone is sighted at a reef.

The huge, frightening and rare colomber is known by many different names. It’s ignored by naturalists and its existence is even doubted.

I hope this summary of “The Colomber” by Dino Buzzati was helpful.

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