Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
This story focuses on the observations and reflections of a Communist Party worker, Amerigo Ormea, on a day in which he is participating as a “poll-watcher” during the 1953 Italian election. The voting place to which he has been assigned is Turin’s Cottolengo Hospital for Incurables, a shelter for the mentally and physically afflicted. The voters at Cottolengo are its staff and, primarily, its inmates, and Amerigo’s responsibility, especially as a Communist, is to see that the voters are all mentally capable of voting on their own without being guided by nuns and priests of the institution (who would be supporters of the Christian Democrat Party, opposing the Communists in the election). Working with Amerigo are five other volunteers—a chairman, a clerk, and three other watchers.
This is a psychological drama, in which the conflicts and resolutions are intellectual, occurring in the mind of the protagonist; the external action provides the context in which Amerigo faces the political, moral, and religious questions that are central to the story. The complexity of the story exists in Amerigo’s intensely sensitive and ethical mind, which wanders through labyrinthine paths of speculations. The actual events are straightforward.
Amerigo leaves home at five-thirty in the morning and walks in the rain to Cottolengo. Throughout the day, Amerigo vacillates in his feelings about the election—whether, for example, taking the election to an...
(The entire section is 1323 words.)
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