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In Bread and Wine, Ignazio Silone draws a vivid (and vividly symbolic) picture of the far-reaching and disastrous effects of the rise of fascism in Italy.
As the novel opens we see the sacrifices and ideological compromises Don Benedetto's students have had to make in order to survive under the new fascist regime. Perjuring their ideals, however, quickly proves the less tragic alternative as we witness the struggles of fierce socialist Pietro Spina. Exiled for his values but now returned to Italy, he must disguise himself as a priest to evade watchful government eyes.
The lawyer Zabaglione gives us a vivid description of the violent Fascist attempts to destroy the socialist and Christian organizations working to help the impoverished countryfolk the government ignores.
The unfortunate ends of several characters also provide a clear look at the destruction Silone believes fascism has caused in his country. Communist Luigi Murica is tortured and killed by the police. Bianchina ends as a prostitute in Rome ("represent[ing] the physical degradation endured by the oppressed Italian people"), and the devout Christina closes the novel preparing to be eaten by wolves after attempting to help Spina evade government capture ("her fate represents the death of the human spirit under Fascism"). (eNotes)
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