The Effects of Alienation and Loneliness in Lives of the Saints Loneliness is a state of mind that leaves people depressed and emotionally weak. The members of the Innocente family suffer from alienation through various social groups. In Nino Ricci’s Lives of the Saints, Cristina and grandfather (Cristina’s father) are alienated from the community (grandfather is isolated from the community), and Vitto is alienated from his family. Alienation makes the lives of these characters lonely and depressing.
Throughout the novel the development of Cristina’s character has been effected because of her alienation from the community, making her feel lonely and helpless. The citizens of Valle de Sole despise and neglect Cristina because of her attitude and uniquely strong personality. When Guiseppena says, “Cristina you and I were like sisters, you know I wouldn’t wish you any harm. But other people aren’t so kind, they like to see a person destroyed. You can afford to walk around like a princess. It turns people against you” (Ricci 53).
Showing that Guiseppena, Cristina’s childhood friend even realizes that Cristina needs to change her attitude because the community will further neglect her, consequently making her more isolated and lonely. Therefore Cristina can only depend on herself and a few other close friends. Due to Christina’s loneliness she becomes short tempered, rude and her actions have brought shame to her father and his reputation. Her father proves his frustration when he says “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 have done.
I’ve suffered every day of my life, but I’ve never had to walk this town and hang my head in shame” (Ricci 149). As the mayor of Valle de Sole grandfather had the respect and admiration of the town. Though he loves Cristina very much his frustration is emphasized by calling Cristina, his own daughter, a whore. Although he did “suffer” (Ricci 149) everyday he had pride and now that pride has been stripped by his own daughter. Cristina’s actions and separation from the community not only affect her but affect her son Vitto also. The alienation Vitto suffers from his school and family builds him to become independent yet fearful.
When Cristina was in the hospital for the second time Vitto comes home and asks his grandfather “did my mother come back? ” (Ricci 116) His grandfather replies “make yourself something to eat; your mother is staying in the hospital a few days” (Ricci 116). Illustrating Vittos’ growing independence and maturity, being only seven years old he is forced to do more around the house and accept the circumstances his mother put herself and the family in. After his mother spoon feeds Vitto and holds his hand throughout his whole life, he is forced to make a drastic turn and essentially become the man of the house.
Vitto also becomes more fearful and faces serious problems at school. The other boys at school harass Vitto in regards to his mother and as a result many fights occur ending with Vitto beaten up. “I was grateful nonetheless for the half hour or so from returning home after school” (Ricci 135). Vittos’ fear of these boys makes him stay after school every day in order to avoid them. Demonstrating that even the children of Valle de Sole know what his mother has done, except their victim is Vitto.
The grandfather suffers from a lot of stress and struggle throughout his whole life, yet he does his best to keep his head held high, because being the mayor he must be an example to others. Cristina indirectly makes the community lose respect for him; as a result he too is neglected and alienated. “I’ve never had to walk through this town and hang my head in shame. Now people come to my house like they go to the circus, to laugh at the clowns” (Ricci 149). The people that once loved and looked up to grandfather now laugh at him as if he is a “clown” (Ricci 149) showing the degree of damage Cristina made him suffer.
He is forced to give up his position of mayor because he could not cope with the shame and humiliation brought to him. Grandfather puts himself in a state of depression in his own house. For a veteran like himself, respect is the most important value in his life and he has now lost it all. “I’ll rot in this bed, I’ll die and rot here, you might as well have put me straight into the grave” (Ricci 158). Grandfather is emotionally and physically shattered he is depressed and weak; being sixty six year old he does not see a reason for him to live any longer.
Not only is he alienated from the community but he has now alienated himself from his family. Cristina’s attitude and actions have has a chain reaction on everyone around her consequently leaving her father the most affected. In this novel alienation played a key role to the character development and plot of the story. The lives of Cristina, Vitto, and grandfather are affected because of the alienation they suffered from the community and their families. Therefore they have to face many hardships which drift their family and community ties apart.