Fontamara Questions and Answers
by Secondo Tranquilli

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As Ignazio Silone uses religious imagery in his novel Fontamara (1930), is there a Christian message embedded in the political one?

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In his depiction of Bernardo Viola as a Christ-like figure who sacrifices himself for the redemption of his peasant community and its emancipation from Fascism, Ignazio Silone subscribes to an agenda for the creation of a socialist brotherhood built on Christian principles. In Silone's views, the true Christian Church is not the official one which, in the dream-like narrative of Michele Zompa, one of the characters, is seen as a powerful ally of the Fascist dictatorshiop and the rich landowners who jointly oppress the peasants of Fontamara. Such negative characterization of the Official Church, an institution more prone to hierarchies rather than to the principles of justice and equality preached by Christ's message, is also embodied by the characters of the priests Don Abbacchio and Don Circostanza.

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