Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Pietro Spina

Pietro Spina (pee-EH-troh), a former favorite pupil of Don Benedetto. Despite physical hardships and intellectual disappointments, Spina remains faithful to his concept of justice and thus demonstrates that good men will fight, even if unsuccessful, as long as they exist. He ages his features with iodine and as a priest, “Don Paolo Spada,” becomes an antiwar agitator among the mountaineers.

Doctor Nunzio Sacca

Doctor Nunzio Sacca (NEWN-zee-oh SAH-kah), an old friend who finds and helps Spina.

Matelena Ricotta

Matelena Ricotta (mah-teh-LAY-nah ree-KOHT-tah), owner of the mountain inn where Spina hides.

Bianchina Girasole

Bianchina Girasole (bee-ahn-KEE-nah jeer-ah-SOH-leh), who considers Spina a saint because he consoled her following an abortion. She seduces Alberto, the brother of her friend Cristina, and becomes a prostitute when sent to Rome by Spina to agitate against the Abyssinian War frenzy.

Cristina Colamartini

Cristina Colamartini (krihs-TEE-nah koh-lah-mahr-TEE-nee), whose devotion to God goes beyond reason. She sacrifices herself to cold and the wolves to carry food to the hidden Spina.

Alberto Colamartini

Alberto Colamartini, the brother of Cristina, and socially above any Girasole.


Pompeo (pom-PAY-oh), the son of a Fossa chemist. Once a reformer, he catches the war frenzy and nearly denounces Spina for writing antiwar slogans on walls.


Romeo, head of the antiwar movement in Rome until he is captured.


Uliva (ewl-EE-vah), a disillusioned man who is killed by a bomb he is making to blow up a church filled with government officials.


Murica (mewr-EE-kah), a potential ally in Spina’s struggle to put God back in the affairs of man. He is killed by government authorities.

Don Benedetto

Don Benedetto (beh-neh-DEHT-toh), an old Catholic teacher and Spina’s intellectual mentor.


Marta, his faithful sister.