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Lives of the Saints: Alienation Seminar

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Sara Colacci

on 20 January 2013

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Transcript of Lives of the Saints: Alienation Seminar

Causes of Alienation Lives of the Saints Religion - Many believe that the initial version of alienation was the religious principle of sin and redemption.
- By committing adultery and refusing to reconcile, the traditionally religious majority of Valle del Sole begin to alienate Cristina for her sins.
- Fearful Cristina's issue will worsen, her friend Giuseppina says, "You have to make a gesture. You should make a confession" (Ricci 53)
- However, Cristina continues to refuse and implies that her faith is relatively weak. One example of this is when Vittorio repeats a church story, and Cristina responds,"What a thing! Don't believe those stories, silly..." (43). Gossip Alienation of Cristina Superstitions - Snakes are considered demonic by the townsfolk of Valle del Sole.
- When Cristina is bitten by a snake a woman at the hospital responds, "A curse!" (Ricci 21).
- The superstition worsens Cristina's alienation.
- Her friends discuss the bite, saying, "'It's not for nothing she was bitten by a snake.' 'What does the snake have to do with it?' 'Beh, you're one to talk. The way you pulled your chair away from her this morning, you might as well have been half way across the road" (47).
- The distance Cristina's friends keep from her is a symbol of her alienation.
- Similarly to Religion, Cristina displays her weak faith in the superstitions of the town, referring to Giuseppina's tales as "stupidaggini [and thinking Giusepphina] had more sense than that" (54). Introduction: Using Cristina as a focus, Ricci displays the restraints of social pressures through the major causes, effects and tolerances of alienation dealt with in the character. Thesis: Alienation is an issue of social acceptance and idealism. In Nino Ricci's Lives of the Saints, Cristina emphasizes this concept as she is alienated for her modern outlook on religious and superstitious subjects in a pastoral society. The villagers see her defiance as a result of an unearthly evil, and therefore want no association with her. Her worsening estrangement however, begins to affect her son and father, and develop distance even within the household. Cristina struggles with her alienation and does not want to conform to social expectations that conflict with her views. Cristina looks to cope with her alienation, but it is obviously difficult. - It's given that rumors are not always the best source of information, but they still arise and affect people.
- Gossips between the townsfolk worsened Cristina's alienation because more people were aware of her issues, and were in many cases even misinformed. For example, one woman from the village was heard saying, "remember what she did to her father-in-law, everyone says it was her that killed him, for what he said" (Ricci 110).
- From what we learn in the novel, Cristina was not the cause of his death at all.
- People are being misled and perhaps even isolating Cristina for wrong or exaggerated reasons.
- This worsens Cristina's alienation, as well as initiates the alienation of the people she cares about. They are exposed to discussion and insults about personal issues. Effects of Alienation Vittorio - Because of Cristina's alienation, Vittorio is affected.
- Now apart from his only friend, Fabrizio, Vittorio becomes increasingly isolated at school. He says, "I was alone now, without friends, and it quickly became clear what my status was with the other boys" (Ricci 107).
- Boys at school teased Vittorio, making him more withdrawn.
- That said however, Vittorio develops aggression as well. Provoked "by some veiled comment about [his mother]" (107), Vittorio had wrestled with his schoolmate, Vincenzo, for the insult, and earlier Fabrizio for a similar reason.
- Vittorio becomes violent only when his mother is insulted.
- "Alienation is expressed differently by different people. Some become withdrawn and lethargic; others may react with hostility and violence" (Strickland 28).
- It's evident that Vittorio displays both of these qualities and is deeply effected by his mothers status and alienation. Discussion Questions: 1. Do you think Cristina is a victim of her alienation, or were the villagers justified in treating her the way they did? 2. How do you think Cristina would have treated someone else if they were the ones alienated by the community? 3. Instead of staging a gesture of repentance to please society, Cristina takes pride in her opinions even if provokes alienation. What would you have done if in her position? Father Works Cited: De Mijolla-Mellor, Sophie. "Alienation." International Dictionary of
Psychoanalysis. Ed. Alain de Mijolla. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 43-45. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Jan. 2013.

Petrović, G. "Alienation." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Donald M. Borchert.
2nd ed. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2006. 120-127. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Jan. 2013.

Ricci, Nino. Lives of the Saints. Cormorant Books
Inc. Canada, 1990.

Strickland, Bonnie. "Alienation." The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology.
Ed. Bonnie Strickland. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2001. 26-28. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. - Cristina's father is also affected by her alienation.
- However, he is not alienated so much as he is shameful. Unlike Vittorio, he agrees with the views of the townspeople and is ashamed of Cristina.
- He is a respectable man, as the mayor of the village. So much so, that it's " only for [him] that people have kept quiet till now" (Ricci 54) about Cristina.
- Her father is upset this respect he has earned in the community is depleting because of Cristina.
- He proves this most in his quote, "Was it for my sake you behaved like a common whore? Do you think you're better than those people? They are my people, not you, not someone who could do what you've done... I've never had to walk through this town and hang my head in shame... You've killed me Cristina...now I wish to God that I'd locked you in the stable and raised you with the pigs, that you died and rotted in the womb, that you hadn't lived long enough to bring this disgrace on my name!" (149). Silence - Because of Cristina's alienation, her family life is also changing and she is alienated even within the household.
- Her relationship with her father is worsening and he doesn't speak with her anymore.
- Cristina becomes distant with Vittorio as well, and he notices, "[his] mother, too, had withdrawn into a shadowy silence" (Ricci 74).
- They all refrain from speaking to one another and things become uncomfortable and distant.
- "In cases where a group feels alienated, not only is a group of subjects oppressed by a group of masters, but oppression infiltrates all relationships within the group" (De Mijolla-Mellor 1). Tolerances of Alienation Change - Cristina does not conform to social pressures she disagrees with, even if it means she is alienated from her community.
- Cristina shows pride in her opinions even if they are nontraditional and unacceptable.
- When her friends notice this they warn her, "you can't afford to walk around like a princess. It turns people against you" (Ricci 53). But Cristina responds, "So what should I do? Should I lock myself in the stable, just to make other people happy?" (53).
- She shows that even if it will turn people against her, she's not going to hide her opinions or herself just to please a closed-minded society.
- Even when defending Vittorio, Christina shows that she is not afraid to break traditional barriers and she and her son, will not be subjected to the alienation of her community. Hobbies - As a result of her alienation, Cristina takes up hobbies clearly to occupy her mind and self from her issues.
- When people are alienated like Cristina, many "may become disoriented, rejecting traditional values and behavior by adopting an outlandish appearance and erratic behavior patterns" (Strickland 28).
- She proves this concept when she takes up random and unusual hobbies like sewing and knitting socks, and later she "had developed a sudden interest in [their] garden, staying out there sometimes from early morning till nightfall..." (Ricci 75).
- It's evident that Cristina would rather distract herself with some productive activity than deal with the silence of the household and isolation of the community.
- Her tending to the neglected garden and holey socks also relates to her feelings and how instead of being alienated she needs to be nurtured and understood to solve the issues. Leaving 4. Are there any global issues that relate to Cristina's issue of alienation? Conclusion: Alienation is a serious issue Ricci portrays through Cristina's experiences as she struggles with social acceptance. Alienation from her community is a result of her defiance towards traditional customs and beliefs. She refuses to conform to the social normality of her village, but soon escapes the judgement with her chin up and perspectives unchanged. Through her character, Ricci effectively portrays the negativity of social pressures and the true strength it takes to overcome the hardships of alienation; perhaps strength that not everyone could achieve the way Cristina did. - Cristina finally overcomes the alienation of the village by journeying to America.
- She and Vittorio get away from the judgment and traditional restrictions of their town.
- Before they leave Cristina says, "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 make a choice" (190).
- This symbolizes how she sees the villagers as dead because of their ways, and herself as living because she is breaking free from their ways and therefore will not be dead with them ("not be hanged").
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