Mr and Mrs Greco are Elena’s parents. Her relationship with her mother is at times strained, though her mother does demonstrate love for her daughter and support for her ambitions. Elena is the narrative voice within the novel. Though born into a poor family, she is intelligent and...
Mr and Mrs Greco are Elena’s parents. Her relationship with her mother is at times strained, though her mother does demonstrate love for her daughter and support for her ambitions. Elena is the narrative voice within the novel. Though born into a poor family, she is intelligent and ambitious, and thriving both socially and intellectually during her teenage years. She has a long and close friendship with Lila, though this friendship is at times ambivalent. She is the more reserved and mild of the two, and she is sometimes manipulated by Lila, especially when the pair are children.
Lila is the subject of the novel, which is written from the perspective of her best friend, Elena Greco. Initially, she is energetic, ambitious, and confident, though this confidence fades somewhat as she enters her early teenage years. Her brother is Rino, who is also her partner in their shoe-making business. Rino cares about his sister and objects when their parents refuse to fund the continuation of her education. However, he betrays her when he shows the shoes the pair had been working on to their father, who is very angry as a result. Their parents, Don Achille Carracci and Nunzia Cerullo, while not supportive of their children’s ambitions in business, do play a role in their lives, especially in their urging of Lila to marry Marcello.
Silvio and Manuela run a bar and demonstrate sound business sense in transforming it into a successful pastry shop. Their sons, Marcello and Michele Solara, are attractive, wealthy and arrogant, benefitting from their parents's wealth to become big names in the neighborhood. The pair are firey lads, as demonstrated by their behavior at Stefano’s New Year’s party. Marcello in particular is romantically attracted to Lila, and he goes to great lengths to convince her to marry him, though he ultimately fails.
Don Achille Carracci is a notorious madman in the neighborhood. His murder has a dramatic impact on many of the other characters, including Lila and Elena. Stefano Carracci is a rich young man who has not been embittered by his father’s murder, as evidenced by his inviting the children of the chief suspect to his party. He marries Lila, and in so doing promotes her to a position of social and financial privilege, saving her from the advances of Marcello, though a link between the two men is suggested by his wearing of the shoes that Marcello had obtained from the Cerullos.
Donato Sarratore is a poet known for his reserved and serious personality. Despite this, he is involved with many women, including the mentally unstable widow Melina and, briefly, Elena. Nino is a friend of Elena’s from school for whom she has always had strong romantic feelings and with whom she spends a pleasant time at the seaside. By nature he is grave, composed, and intellectual, much like his father.
Alfredo Peluso and Giuseppina Peluso are the parents of several children, with Alphredo making his money in carpentry.
Carmela Peluso is a friend of both Lila and Elena, especially while the pair are going through middle school. Pasquale is her brother, and he makes his money in construction. He is romantically attracted to both the novel’s protagonists, especially Elena.
Melina Cappuccio is a widow and the mother of the two Cappucio children. Her mental state is not stable, and she is exploited by Nino’s father into having an affair with him. She has a daughter, Ada, and a son, Antonio, the mechanic who enjoys a pleasant relationship with Elena shortly after the latter returns from her holiday on the coast.
Nicola and Assunta Scanno deal in fruit and vegetables. Enzo is their oldest son and is an acquaintance of Elena and Lila.
A teacher of both Lila and Elena, this maternal figure cares deeply about the two girls's education and is outraged when Lila was denied the chance to go to middle school. She plays an instrumental role in Helping Elena go on her holiday to the coast, arranging for her to stay at the house of Nella Incardo, her cousin.