(Essentials of European Literature)

When Turiddu Macca returned from soldiering, he swaggered like a hero through his tiny Sicilian village. Each Sunday, he wore his rifleman’s uniform and a red cap with a tassel that swung jauntily about his shoulders. In addition, he smoked a pipe with a figure of the king on horseback carved on the bowl. In short, he cut a dashing figure as he strutted about the town square, and the girls eyed him approvingly and longingly if they passed him on their way to or from mass. Small boys tagged at his heels and begged him to tell stories of the faraway places he had seen.

Turiddu, however, had eyes only for Lola, Master Angelo’s daughter, who had given him her handkerchief and wept many tears when he went away to be a conscript. While he was away, however, she had been betrothed to Alfio, a young carter who had four mules in his stable. Turiddu was enraged when he heard the news on his return, and he swore that he would have revenge on the man who had stolen his sweetheart. Although he lingered day after day in the neighborhood of Master Angelo’s house, Lola neither appeared on the balcony nor went to mass. Unable to speak to her, Turiddu had to content himself with singing derisive songs under her window. The neighbors began complaining instead of laughing after awhile; they felt the time had come for him to end his disruptive displays and earn money to support his widowed mother, Mistress Nunzia.

At last, Turiddu came face-to-face with Lola as she was on her way home from church. She answered his reproaches by saying that she was soon to marry Alfio. Turiddu angrily declared that their friendship was at an end.

The first Sunday after her wedding, Lola appeared on the balcony of her new home, her hands outspread against her dress so that the neighbors could see the gold rings that Alfio had given her. That show of wealth was an added insult to Turiddu, a peasant so poor that Mistress Nunzia had been forced to sell their vineyard while he was away.

In order to make Lola jealous, Turiddu went to work for Master Cola, the vine grower, whose house was directly across from Alfio’s. Before long, Turiddu was making pretty speeches to Santa, his master’s unmarried daughter. When the girl asked him pertly why he did not keep his compliments for Lola, he told her that his former sweetheart was...

(The entire section is 955 words.)