Lives of the Saints


Lives of the Saints

Lives of the Saints is a story that examines the complexities and tribulations of everyday life in a small town. Throughout the novel, we discover that even the most trustworthy and caring individuals live secret lives behind closed doors, and that the surface appearance of minor communities can be very deceptive. Some people spend their entire adult-lives trying to knock down these doors and discover the truth, but perhaps they are overlooking the key to the lock? our children.
Vittorio Innocente is a young boy who has not always lived up to his name. ?My attendance at school had not been very regular-it had somehow fallen out that I?d spent much of class time wandering up to the top of Colle di Papa or down to the river with my friend Fabrizio, sharing with him the cigarettes he filched from his father. La Maestra had paid a visit to my mother one afternoon, to advise her of my truancy and vices?.? (9). We find that Vitto is trying to turn around his poor school habits, and has been trying to read through a novel called Principi Matematici, but to no avail. As he sat stranded on page three of his mathematical conquest, he was overcome by a wealth of distractions. The golden sun was shining down on him that day, or so it seemed, for as he was drifting off to sleep the muffled shout of a man shattered what would appear to be his last enjoyable day; at least for a long time.
Childhood can be a fragile thing. It is commonly believed that children see the world through different eyes. Everything seems fresh and interesting to them, where we become saturated with the details of our everyday lives. The eyes of Vittorio Innocente act as a safeguard, seemingly protecting him from truth and danger that he cannot see. Since the incident with the snake, Vittorio had noticed that his mother had been keeping to herself, working in the garden. However, he could not understand what was wrong with her, and could not figure out why the household seemed so empty. ??A veil seemed to have fallen between us, and for a while I had nursed this estrangement like a precious wound I could somehow turn to advantage; but the passing days brought only a growing awkwardness, as if my mother and I had suddenly become strangers, with no words now to bridge the silence between us? (74). Vittorio?s ?safety-goggles? also help him when the gang of boys invite him up to the mountain. He cannot see the danger that has befallen him. Luckily, his friend Fabrizio saves him just in time, and proves that he is a true friend.
Unfortunately, to every advantage there are a few disadvantages. When Fabrizio saves Vitto on the mountain, he doesn?t understand what has happened. ??I felt myself flush with anger and hate, hate for Fabrizio, my only friend, who seemed suddenly stupid and useless beyond all bearing? (127). Eventually, as Vittorio makes his progression towards maturity, he realizes that he had underestimated his friend, and they become closer because of it. As the old saying goes, "ignorance is bliss." But perhaps in the case of this young boy, it isn?t. Maybe if he had been able to understand the severity of the problem his family was in, he would have acted differently.
Lives of the Saints also deals with the contrast of good and evil, something that Vittorio comes across on numerous occasions throughout the story. (There are far more characters in this story then I could mention on these pages, so I will write about the people who had the greatest effect on Vittorio). His encounter with Luciano of Rocca Secca is one of the key elements in the book. For his seventh birthday, Vittorio and his mother travel to Rocca Secca to buy him some birthday presents. On their way towards the market, Cristina meets a tall, muscular man that Vittorio has never seen. The man (Luciano) carries him piggyback down to a secluded area of town, and takes a large one-lira coin out of his pocket. Luciano tells him the story of how he picked it up during the war, and how it saved his life. Vittorio is surprised when Luciano gives him the coin as a