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Having Italian parents immigrating to Canada, Nino Ricci was born on August 23 1959 & was raised in Leamington, Ontario. Nino Ricci has studied at York University, Concordia University in Montreal and University of Florence which is in Italy. He was also quoted “a past president of PEN Canada, a writer’s’ human rights organization that works for freedom of expression”. He has achieved an Award for English-language fiction and written many novels such as “Lives of the Saints”, “In a glass house”, “Where she has gone” and “the Origin of Species”.
Overall, “Lives of the Saints” by Nino Ricci is about a mother and son and their life in Valle de Sole, Italy. Taken place in the 1960’s this was a very closed minded village that is very religious and traditional. The novel begins with Vittorio and his mother who are currently living at their grandfather’s house. Vittorio’s father, Mario left for Canada years ago to earn money and provide for his family. One day, Vittorio sees is mother doing something weird with a blue-eyed man in the barn. To the reader, we understand that Cristina has cheated on her husband with the blue-eyed man. During her so called “meeting” she is bite by snake. The Village has come to know that Cristina is having an affair and has got bitten by a snake symbolizing evil. Moreover, villagers try and convince Cristina to make a confession to church or/and do the sacrifice of a chicken. As the villager believes there has been a curse on her and the villagers are trying to prevent them from getting cursed as well. Further on in the novel, everyone comes to know that Cristina is pregnant with the child of this blue-eyed man. Throughout the village is gossip spreading about Cristina and her whole family. Additionally throughout this whole story, vittorio has seen and heard everything, he is known to the readers as a very observant child. Through the text, it mainly focuses on Cristina and her confidence but also her struggle with her society. Cristina finally, has a way to leave Valle de Sole and start a new and better life. However, throughout the voyage to Canada, Cristina has her baby but results in her downfall… her death. The blue-eyed man and Mario her husband comes to see Cristina and Vittorio. Finally, it is revealed to the reader that Cristina was not going to go to her husband but to reunite with the blue-eyed man.
There are various ways where a society can influence a change in an individual. These influence are different in different countries, cultures etc. Society’s pressure is one of the most powerful effects as it has certain rules. Soo if you want to fit in, you must follow these rules. The pressure of society ultimately makes one fear of being judged or feel insecure about themselves and has to meet certain expectations. The novel, “Lives of the Saints” by author Nino Ricci exhibits the connection between the text and reader by showing the impact of society on an individual through the use of the theme destructive power of superstition, comparison between characters and character development of confidence throughout the novel. The text suggests that the influence of society can ultimately change an individual’s perspective in order to meet their societal expectations.
In the village of Valle de Sole, religion and tradition play a huge factor, especially because this village is located at the top of mountain isolated from the rest of society. The superstition of the snake plays the main factor at the beginning at the novel and also makes a comeback at the end. In the village of Valle de Sole, the superstition of snakes has a powerful effect. Asking about what colour it is and which side it came from, narrows it down to luck. How can one by lucky from a snake bite. The superstition of the snake brings fear to around the village as her friend says “I warn you Cristi, you’ll bring a curse on everyone around you. With the snake everyone has started to talk. I didn’t want to say it but you force me to, you think that people are fools, that they don’t see the way you carry on. But I don’t have to tell you the name that everyone is calling you. You have to make a gesture”. It is very clear that society can easily turn on an individual, pushing one away and trying to keep as much distance as possible. The fear of the snake pushes the villagers to make distance from Cristina and start gossiping about her. This ultimately shows us the reader that society makes us fear about ourself and our standing with others showing them that we have to follow their orders to be looked as equal.
As said before the villagers of Valle de Sole are closed minded and are only aware of their own little community and has not idea or knowledge about the outside. Being a very traditional village, Cristina is seen to be very confident and believes in what she thinks is right excluding her thoughts on religion and tradition. This kind of “triggers” let say the villagers causing them to look differently at Cristina and judging her for not following the norms of their society as Maria, one of the characters in the novel says “And Vittorio. Growing up like a weed. Do you ever see him getting up at four to help with the harvest, like my Vincenzo? Never. He and his mother play like school children all day”.This shows how easily society turns on each other. Resulting in them to compare each other to show that they are more elite and is better suited for the society. Furthermore, with the village comparing people, it ultimately raises their self-esteem and power demonstrating that comparing and talking gossip will pushway that individual from society, which what they wanted all along. But why? Well of course it’s because they don’t want to be looked upon as the bad village, from other people showing us that often the public will turn on us if we commit an act that is deemed wrong by them or is looked as an act of change.
In this society, families have to conform to the traditional and religious norms to be looked as the same with the others. However, Cristina does not follow those religious steps that everyone else she knows has. Her confidence intimidates the village causing them to exclude her. It is evident in the text as Vittorio says “There was my mother sitting calmly on the stone bench as if nothing happened … the cloth sank into her leg but my mother did not wince or grimace”. As traditional gender roles, women are supposedly looked upon as weak and in this part of the novel, it appeared to be the Cristina was the damsel in distress waiting to be saved. However, it seemed to be the opposite as she was calm and showed no sign of weakness which is uncommon for women back in the 1960’s especially in a village where men were to do all the hard core work and to suffer such bad injuries. Overall, this demonstrates the gender roles the society uses against Cristina to showcase her difference from the village.
To conclude, society is an important factor in developing one’s character. It aids as a positive influence as it helps shape the their picture on life, and help understand other perspectives. However, society can also deeply impact an individual as it can brainwash them into believing what is right and wrong and alter their behaviour and attitude towards others.
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