Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In the village of Trezza, on the island of Sicily, the Malavoglia family was once great. Now the only Malavoglias left are Padron ’Ntoni and his little brood in the house by the medlar tree. Nevertheless, they are happy and prosperous, living well on the income brought in by their boat, the Provvidenza.
When the oldest grandson, ’Ntoni, is conscripted, the first sadness falls on the household. In that same year, other things go badly, and the market for fish is poor. With ’Ntoni gone, the money that comes in has to be divided with extra help that Padron is forced to hire. Eventually, Padron ’Ntoni has to arrange a loan with Uncle Crucifix Dumbbell to buy a shipment of coarse black beans on credit from him. The beans are to be resold at Riposto by Padron’s son, Bastianazzo. Although La Longa, Bastianazzo’s wife, is skeptical of this deal, she keeps quiet, as she is expected to do. Soon afterward, Bastianazzo sails away on the Provvidenza with the cargo of beans aboard. All the villagers whisper that the beans are spoiled, and that Uncle Crucifix cheated the Malavoglia family. It is well known that Uncle Crucifix is an old fox in all money matters.
If the beans are sold, Padron ’Ntoni’s family will be well off. The man whose son is to marry Mena Malavoglia eagerly anticipates his boy’s good fortune. The women of the village, and others, too, agree that Mena is everything a woman should be, but luck goes...
(The entire section is 1181 words.)
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