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Nino Ricci's Lives of The Saints: Gender Inequality

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Women are declared weak and are only good in the household. In the Lives of the Saint, at that time and in their tradition, women are considered to be poor and well-done in their household work. Nino Ricci’s character Cristina is against the traditional Women’s Role in Valle Del Sole through her rebellious nature, her Disbelief in superstition and religion, and her Feminist mindset. Thus, through Cristina women’s issues are seen throughout the novel because of her unique way of life.

Cristina denies the traditional rules and values. The belief that she is now “liberated”, Cristina believed to illicit activities. Cristina contrasts expectations as she raised her son by herself, works in the fields & doing the men’s job and declares to strong, free and independent women without her husband by her side. When Cristina agreed to her father to go to church, she wears a tight dress to show her pregnancy. “ My Mother appeared at the top of the stairs, dressed not in one of her loose dresses but in a white blouse and a black skirt which fit tight around her waist, the swell there rising up like.” (Ricci 142). Cristina rebels against society because she is opposed to their perspectives and makes the gossip worse for herself. Since Cristina raised Vittorio by herself and had no one in her life, she took the role of being a father to her son. especially when it comes to protecting her family. When Vittorio had a fight Vincenzo, Cristina automatically accused Maria Vincenzo’s mother, assuming the fight was the result of them judging Cristina. “ You tell your Vincenzo, that if he lays another finger on my son I’ll tear out your eyes and feed them to the dogs! To the dogs!” Cristina to Maria. “Do you hear that, Vicenzo? I swear I’ll kill her, even if i have to rot in hell for it!” Cristina to Vincenzo (Ricci 111). Cristina physically struck Maria to get her point and the society judge her than they already do. Cristina doesn’t care about looking like a woman considering that in her life she already taken the role of being a man. Cristina disappointed Antonio when she didn’t follow what women should behave. “One or two of them seemed rather handsome. Why is it that all the handsome men go out to sea?” (Ricci 210). Cristina openly joked around on topics that aren’t appropriate and offending. She doesn’t follow the way women should act according to the society rules.

Cristina shows ideas and beliefs and it’s opposite to the view of the village. Cristina describes a very dull nature towards religion and superstition. She didn’t prove the superstitions to be reasonable. When Giuseppina indicates Cristina should do the chicken ritual, Cristina shuts her down. “ Giuseppi, you’re not serious! A good God-fearing woman like you talking to me about these stupidaggini! I thought you had more sense than that.”( Ricci 54). Giuseppina and the other women in the village were consumed by the control forces of society and followed the belief in unreasonable superstition. Cristina cites her different views with the other woman and refuses to follow superstition, which sets her apart from the society. Cristina is disgusted by the church and believes that Fr. Nick spends money on his own instead of putting it in church. “He was sweating like a pig today — and we like idiots still give him money for his wine and sausage, and eat stones all week. I’d like to see how much of what he took in today ever gets to the sick.” (Ricci 39). Cristina speaks anything on her mind whether it is rude or not; she was not concerned or worried after all she didn’t believe it. She also disacknowledges the existence of the malocchio.

“Don’t be foolish. The snake was a stupid accident.” (Ricci 65). She refuses and closes the idea that she may be cursed, ignoring the superstitions and beliefs that Luciano gives her. Cristina’s belief in living without strong religious relations and superstitions keeps her isolated from the other men and women of Valle del Sole. She shows her own beliefs and ignores the fact that she confined herself alone from the rest of the women.

Cristina sets herself apart from the other women by becoming an active feminist. “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” (G.D Anderson). This passage illustrates how strong women are like Cristina. She’s an independent woman as she doesn’t depend on others because when Alfredo offered Cristina the money her husband gave her. “ Ah, so that’s it, isn’t it? Che cretino! You think it’s the money I want, don’t you? Here, take it back to him, stronzo, tell him I don’t need his money.” ( Ricci 97). Additionally, Cristina is clearly solving the problem of her family by herself. She declined that she needed Mario to help and support her to try and prove she was an independent woman who didn’t need a man. Valle del Sole is a patriarchy community. Cristina showed how she opposed it by continuing to make her own decisions. When she’s leaving to America, in her final speech to the town she gets her last words which clearly reflect her feminist mindset:

“Fools!” she shouted. “You tried to kill me but you see I’m still alive. And now you came to watch me hang, but I won’t be hanged, not by your stupid rules and superstitions. You are the ones who are dead, not me, because not one of you knows what it means to be free and to make a choice, and I pray to God that he wipes this town and all its stupidities off the face of the earth!” (Ricci 190).

Cristina’s speech is mostly directed to the women of the town as how they devastated themselves in pursuing the patriarchy. She’s her own person and this final statement not only covers her as a free woman as she fled, but because she stood for herself. When Cristina died, Ricci chooses Cristina to give birth to a daughter not a son because she can continue her mother’s legacy

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Nino Ricci’s Lives of the Saints: Gender Inequality. (2019, March 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from
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