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Melissa Guido

on 14 June 2014

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The Role of Women
Nino Ricci's
Lives of the Saints
explores the gender role differences through the characters. Ricci utilizes the character Cristina to exploit the outcomes of rejecting society's expected roles of a woman.
Ricci contradicts these perceptions through Cristina as she represents the descent into modern thinking.
Restatement of thesis
Therefore, in the novel
Lives of the Saints
through her rebellious nature in rejecting the rules of society
her disbelief in superstitions and religion ultimately isolating herself from everyone else
and her feminist practices of being her own person,
Cristina contradicts and goes against the traditional role of women.
Believing that she is now “liberated,” Cristina indulges in illicit affairs
Cristina contrasts expectations as she raised a son on her own, works in the fields, and reveals to be strong and independant without Mario by her side.
When Cristina finally decides to go to Church with her father, she wears tight fitting clothing to show off her pregnancy
"My mother appeared 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 a hill," - Vittorio (Ricci 142)
Cristina is rebelling against society because she is going against their views and making the gossip worse for herself.

Cristina frustrated Antonio when she does not follow the way women should behave. she rebels when she decides she is going to leave to America with Vitto.
"One or two of them seemed rather handsome. why is it that all handsome men go out to sea," (Ricci 210) Cristina to Antonio
Cristina openly jokes around about topics that are not appropriate. She is not following the way women should behave according to the rules of society.

Since Cristina raised a child, Vitto, on her own and withut a man in her life, she has taken on the role of being the man, especially when it comes to protecting her family.
When Vincenzo fights Vitto, Cristina automatically accuses his mother, Maria, assuming the fight was caused by them judging Cristina.
"You tell your Vincenzo, that if he lays another finger on my son ill tear our your eyes and feed them to the dogs!... I'll kill her, even if it means i have to rot in hell for it!" (Ricci 111) Cristina to Maria
Cristina physically hurts Maria to get her point across which in turn will make society judge her more than they already do. Cristina does not care about looking "lady-like" since she in life have already taken on the role of being the man.
About Valle de Sole

- what do we already know about the views the society has, especially on women?

Women were revealed as weak and were only good as their role in the household
Thesis statement:
Therefore, in the novel
Lives of the Saints
, Ricci’s character Cristina contradicts and goes against the traditional role of women in Valle de Sole through her rebellious nature, her disbelief in superstitions and religion, and her feminist mindset.
Melissa Guido
Ms. Colburn

Argument 1
 Cristina rejects traditional roles and values
Argument 2
Cristina displays ideas and beliefs that contrast the views of the villiage.
Cristina portrays a very blunt nature towards religion and superstitions. She does not validate superstitions to be rational.
When Giuseppina suggests Cristina should perform the chicken ritual, Cristina shuts her down.
"Giuseppi, youre not serious! A good god-fearing woman like you talking to me about these stipidagini! I thought you had more sense than that," (Ricci 54) Cristina to Giuseppina.
Giuseppina and other women in the village are consumed by the controlling forces of society and conform to believe in the irrational superstitions.
Cristina openly discusses her different views to the other women and refuses to follow the superstitions, setting her apart from the rest of society.

Cristina is disgusted by the church and has a belief that Fr. Nick spends money on himself rather than putting it towards the 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"
Cristina speaks whatever is on her mind whether it is disrespectful or not; she is not phased or concerned since she does not believe.

Cristina denies the existence of the malocchio.
"Dont be foolish. The snake was a stupid accident,"
(Ricci 65) Cristina to Luciano
Cristina is denying and shutting down the idea that she could be cursed, completely disregarding the superstitions and beliefs that Luciano is giving her.

Cristina's belief in living life without strong ties to religion and superstitions keeps her isolated from the other men and women of Valle de Sole. She exhibits her own beliefs and ignores the fact that she is alienating herself from the rest of the women.

Argument 3
Cristina sets herself apart from the other women by being an active feminist.
"Feminism is a body of social theory and political movement primarily based on and motivated by the experiences of women. While generally providing a critique of social relations, many proponents of feminism also focus on analyzing gender inequality and the promotion of women's rights, interests, and issues." (Unknown)
Feminist critical theory is observed in Cristina’s strength, her independence and the society she lives in.
Cristina is an independent woman as she does not rely on others because when Alfredo offered Cristina the money her husband gave her, she rejected it.
“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).
Moreover, it is evident that Cristina solves her family’s problem by her own. She denies that she needs Mario to help and support her to try and prove that she is an independent woman who does not need a man. After her husband left for America, she raised Vittorio by herself.

Valle de Sole is a patriarchy community. Cristina displays how she is against this by consistantly making her own decisions.
In her final speech to the town, Cristina gets her last words in which evidently reflect her feminist mindset.
"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," (Ricci 190) Cristina
Cristina speech is mostly directed to the women of the town she is implying how they are ruining themselves by following the patriarchy.
Cristina is her own person and this final speech not only encompasses that she is free because she is fleeing, but because she stands up for herself.

When Cristina died, Ricci chooses to have Cristina give birth to a daughter and not to a son because now she can continue her mothers legacy of practicing feminism. The new child shows that Cristina, or at least her beliefs, are still alive because now she can live out Cristina's beliefs.
Her daughter is going to reject the patriarchy.
Thank you.
Full transcript