“The Elevator” by Dino Buzzati Summary

The Elevator Dino Buzzati Summary
“The Elevator” Summary by Dino Buzzati

“The Elevator” is a short story by Dino Buzzati that’s available in his collection Restless Nights: Selected Stories. Buzzati is known for stories with elements of science-fiction, fantasy and horror and while this one contains some fantasy, it feels more like an allegory to me rather than a true fantasy. It’s about a trio in a high-rise who find themselves on an unusual elevator ride. Here’s a summary of “The Elevator”.

“The Elevator” Summary

Dino gets on the elevator on the thirty-first floor of his high-rise. In an instant, it reaches the twenty-seventh, where a girl of about seventeen gets on. It’s the girl he’s been seeing in the mornings with a shopping bag for months, and his heart flutters as it does every time he sees her. She has a thin face, disdainful mouth, and black hair that’s pulled tight. She walks with arrogance and authority. She turns and faces the doors indifferently.

The elevator has quickly descended to the twenty-fourth floor and a man of about fifty-five steps in. He has a medium build, is nearly bald and looks fairly shabby, but his face is distinguished. The girl stands like a model and continues staring ahead with indifference. A timid man like Dino won’t get anything from her.

The elevator loses its speed and descends slowly. A sign indicates that five people or more will reduce the speed. Dino remarks that there’s only three of them and they’re not heavy. The older man says he weighs too much and has a suitcase. The girl stays silent.

At each floor, the number can be seen through the glass doors. Over two minutes pass as the elevator moves sluggishly. Dino likes being in the girl’s company, so he doesn’t mind. The girl asks the older gentleman what’s going on. He acknowledges that they’ve descended below the ground floor; it happens sometimes and he doesn’t know how far it will go.

The older man introduces himself as Schiassi. At Dino’s prompting, the girl introduces herself as Esther. She seems afraid now. Normally, Dino would be frightened, but he’s happy being cast away with Esther like this. Surely, she would choose him over the older man. Esther grabs Schiassi’s sleeve and asks where they’re going, which irks Dino.

Dino confesses that he thinks about Esther all the time. She objects that they’ve never met, but he says he sees her in the mornings when she goes out shopping. She’s upset that he knows she’s a maid, but Dino tries to gloss over it.

Schiassi calms Esther and claims he’s a man of varied trades—businessman, philosopher, doctor, accountant, pyrotechnist—whatever the situation calls for. He laughs loudly when Dino suggests he’s a magician or the Devil.

It’s been an hour and Esther cries. Dino comforts her but doesn’t have any answers. Schiassi has food in his suitcase that will last months. Dino is suspicious, wondering if Schiassi is somehow involved in their confinement.

Dino asks Esther to marry him. She’s doubtful but considers it. He’s an industrial engineer and makes a decent salary. As a priest, Schiassi could marry them, and he encourages her to think about it.

The elevator continues dropping and they must be hundreds of meters below the surface now. Esther is becoming receptive and Dino takes her in his arms and kisses her forehead. The elevator finally stops and, after a pause, starts rising.

Esther wants Dino to let go. The danger has passed so there’s no rush. They’ll talk about it later. He claims he’s in love, but he could just be a flirt.

The elevator rises speedily. Esther doesn’t want to see Dino tomorrow. She doesn’t even know him. He’s assuming she even has time for him. Just because she’s a servant doesn’t mean he can take advantage of her.

Dino begs Esther to reconsider, but she insults him and pulls away, offended. She implores Schiassi to assist her but he’s vanished.

The elevator stops at the ground floor and the doors open. Esther jerks away from Dino and threatens to make a fuss over his behavior. With contempt, she walks out of the elevator and out of the building. Each step feels to Dino like an insult.

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

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