Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 512
Turiddu Macca (tew-REED-dew MAHK-kah), a swaggering youth with an eye for the ladies. He is self-confident, cocky, and convinced of his own sexual appeal. Returning from the army, still wearing the rakish cap of the soldier, he fully expects to continue his relationship with Lola, to whom he considers himself engaged. He learns that she is going to marry the local carter, Alfio. In spiteful bravado he courts Santa, the daughter of a well-to-do landowner. Although he does not really love her, he woos Santa with a kind of rough tenderness and a self-assuredness that expects no refusal. He is capable of real courage and dignity, as in the final scene, when he fights a knife duel with Lola’s husband. Although he knows he could be killed—as indeed he is—Turiddu meets the cuckolded carter in the hills at dawn because he is expected, as a man, to play his part in the primitive ritual of honor and to pay with his life for his affair with Lola.
Lola, the daughter of a local farmer. As calculating as Turiddu is headstrong, she marries the carter not for love but for the security he could provide. She knows that marriage to Turiddu cannot offer her the stability and prestige she wants; in fact, she enjoys tormenting Turiddu by sitting on her balcony with her hands folded on her stomach, showing off her rings and jewelry. Even after her marriage, Lola is a temptress. Her awareness of her own sexuality is the equal of Turiddu’s and more than a match for his egotism. One night, when her husband is away on business, Lola confidently seduces Turiddu, inviting him into the house, regardless of what the rest of the village might think. She ensnares him, but he willingly becomes ensnared. Lola clearly establishes the theme of the story—treachery. She betrays Turiddu and betrays her husband twice, once by marrying him without love and once by her seduction of Turiddu.
Santa, who falls in love with Turiddu even though she knows the kind of man he is. She is undeceived by his declarations of her beauty. She is a true peasant, strong, clever, and vindictive. When she learns that her Turiddu has been carrying on with Lola, she feels slighted, perhaps even jealous. She comes to hate Turiddu as much as she once loved him. Fearlessly and implacably, she tells Lola’s husband about the affair.
Alfio (ahl-FEE-oh), an uncomplicated man. He marries Lola not because he loves her but simply because she is an attractive ornament. When he discovers that Turiddu has cuckolded him, he unhesitatingly seeks him out. Without emotion, he challenges Turiddu; equally without remorse, he kills him. He is direct, blunt, and instinctual. He is portrayed as stolid and humorless. His challenge to Turiddu is curt and businesslike. His animal nature reflects the hardness of the life of the peasant. Ironically, he would have been a good match for Santa, with her brutal honesty. Instead, he becomes an instrument of revenge.
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