Berardo Viola (beh-RAHR-doh vee-OH-lah), the biggest and strongest of the Fontamarans and, accordingly, the most respected. A peasant with no land, Berardo has nothing to lose and is thus free to retaliate against the government’s cruel and unfair treatment of thecafoni (peasants). Driven by an inherent sense of Christian brotherhood, he becomes the first peasant to sacrifice his life for his fellow people.
Giovà (jee-oh-VAH), short for Giovanni, one of the narrators. Giovà personifies the typical Fontamaran peasant. He works his arid land for endless hours because he has to provide for his wife and son. His land and his family are of primary importance to him; people outside his family matter little. Giovà has a quick temper, but he is resigned to the political oppression and social injustice that, for years, have caused the cafoni to live in abject poverty. As a consequence, he is unwilling at first to join in the retaliation initiated by Berardo.
Matalè (mah-tah-LAY), short for Maddalena, Giovà’s wife and the second narrator. Matalè is characteristic of the Fontamaran peasant women. She is quick to anger and to criticize. She openly denounces Marietta Sorcanera’s moral lassitude, but she is secretly envious of her new apron and curled hair.
Giovà’s son, the third narrator. He accompanies Berardo to Rome. Unlike Berardo, but typical of others his age, the young man has no vision of a “higher calling” to altruism and self-sacrifice. He is...
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