“The End of the World”: Dino Buzzati Summary

The End of the World Dino Buzzati Summary
“The End of the World”: Dino Buzzati Summary

“The End of the World” is a very short story by Dino Buzzati, a well-known Italian writer whose stories are still occasionally anthologized. It’s about a sign in the sky high above a city that convinces everyone the apocalypse is imminent, and their reaction to it. It’s worth reading to get the full effect, but if you’re having trouble finding the text, here’s a summary of “The End of the World”.

“The End of the World” Summary

At about ten in the morning, an immense fist appears high above the city. It slowly unclenches and hangs like a rocky, fleshy, cloudy canopy. A murmuring grows into a shrill cry at this sign from God of the end of the world. Some cry out from their windows, others look up at the fearsome sight, and others leave their homes and run, just to do something. Luisa and Pietro are in a city square. Not knowing what to do, they burst into tears. Many others are also crying.

Two little friars walk by happily, feeling like the smart ones now. When they disappear down an alley, a man starts chasing them, realizing they could have taken his confession. Churches are packed with people waiting to confess, and the crowds are unruly. The prominent religious leaders are gone, hired by the wealthy for private confessions. Swindlers are posing as priests and charging exorbitant fees. Young couples hurry to enjoy intimate time together.

The huge hand has turned ashen and people are sure the end is imminent. A young priest is seen standing on the low, elegant balcony of a palace. The crowd calls for him to take their confessions and they prevent him from leaving. They gather tightly and some climb on the columns. People yell out their secrets in front of everyone. The priest draws a cross in the air, absolves them, and moves on to the next person.

The priest is dazed by the endless calls. Luisa and Pietro manages to push their way in. Luisa confesses to missing Mass and lying and any other possible sin; she just wants to be near God. The priest believes her. Someone authoritatively claims there’s only ten minutes left. The priest looks feverish but can’t leave. He continues absolving the crowd without really paying attention to their words.

Someone announces there’s only eight minutes left. The young priest throws a tantrum, stomping on the marble and trembling. He’s been cheated out of his own salvation by the voracious crowd. He implores them to consider him, but no one listens.

I hope this summary of “The End of the World” by Dino Buzzati was helpful.

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