BETWEEN ITALY AND ERITREA: A BUMPY RIDE FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT THE GOOD ITALIAN written by STE


The precondition that the same author said to the reader is that The Good Italian was written for a movie. Indeed, this historical novel has more film setting properties. Despite the fiction’s work, the historical cultural context is highly detailed. A more precise explanation is necessary: the term historical points to the chronological political facts happened during the 1900s; the term cultural indicates everything that belongs to the culture of a society as human groups, and so the kind of music catching on that time, the most common topics of the chats between normal people on the street, the ideas of the single human beings.

Until the moment of the trial this story is narrated through the most common male vision, in which sex is considered just as tool despite as union and feeling. In the first part of the novel, all the characters share this mentality, without any difference between men and women.

The turning point is made by a woman, the neighbour of Enzo, one of the two principal characters, who planned to revenge of the man who refused her proposal to betray her husband. From this moment the women mentality starts to impose up to the men’s one. Indeed, the female character, Aatifa, declaring the same version of Enzo in front of the judge and the jury, she confesses for the first time her sad truth: she was betrayed several times from the men, starting from the father who sold her when she was really young to a man who raped her and repudiated her when she was pregnant. Aatifa’s daughter became mother very soon as well, and for this reason Aatifa was a granny before to have thirty years old.

‹When I was twelve my father sold me, my virginity, to a white man… for the rice of a bottle of whisky. The man paid my father and then he took m to his house and he raped me. Enzo hung his head in shame. I was promised in marriage to a boy in my village but when the family found out what had happened, no one would touch me. I was no longer a suitable wife. Then I found out that the man had made me regnant. I had a child too young and it did so much damage that I can never have another. The man did not give me any support. He denied my child was his and said I had probably been with many men. › Her tone gradually grew louder and angrier. ‹I was just a little girl… and you think you are better than us. This is what your precious empire is. Someday, one way or another we will take our country back› (…)

Enzo, listening for the first time the tragic truth, climbed down from the initial version that ensured him the freedom, admitting publicly to be in love with an Eritrean woman, that in his home she never was a whore, but at the beginning a housekeeper and later a lover. The public grumbled after these admissions, particularly Enzo’s lawyer, and the consequence is the imprisonment of the man for five years, as the Fascist law imposed.

‹If love is to be a crime, then I am guilty because I do love her. And if this is what our empire has become then I want no part of it. ›

The only sorrow that Enzo demonstrates from now is the fear that something bad could happens to Aatifa, and for this reason tells his loyal colleague and friend, Daniel, to find her to give her his apologise and to continue to pay her.

Luckily some nights Aatifa found the way to go to the prison to see him, running throughout different risks but given to him her presence and cheering him up about her feeling. Regrettably, she was caught red-handed from an Italian man who Aatifa’s daughter hurts to protect her mother. After the murder of this man, Aatifa is obliged to run away to protect her daughter.

The Aatifa’s escape and Enzo’s waiting are narrated in parallel during the last pages of the book with a dogged rhythm. The moment in which Enzo is finally out of the prison is the same in which the Italian Empire in Eritrea felt down; for this motivation, Enzo has the freedom after four years and not after five.

Finally, the conclusion of the novel is good to cloud every waver from the cultural diversity of the characters and to highlight the feeling of true love between Enzo and Aatifa. All the rest of their story is unrevealed to the reader, the only important thing is that henceforth the man and the woman will brave the difficulties of the future joining hands.

‹He realised then that she was staring at him. He turned to look at her and saw that she was doing what she had always done ever since they had met: studying him and trying to figure him out. He hoped that she would never stop. Looking in her eyes now, he forgot about everything else. He knew, without hesitation, that he would go with her wherever she wanted, for as long as she wanted. She reached out, offering her hand, and he took it›

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