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Last Updated on June 4, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 298

The Narrator

The narrator, a twenty-year-old Jewish man, has left his native Ferrara to study literature at the University of Bologna. Distracted from his studies by political unrest, he is forced to acknowledge that Fascism is increasingly affecting Italian Jews, especially his family. The narrator tries to anticipate the future repercussions of the rampant antisemitism. His sympathy for Dr. Fadigati helps him understand that the discrimination leveled by the Fascists extends beyond religion to all those considered opponents of the regime.

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Dr. Athos Fadigati

Athos Fadigati, a surgeon in Ferrara who is originally from Venice, is a gay man living under Italy’s Fascist regime who becomes a victim of anti-gay discrimination, accused of being a sexual predator of underage boys.

Eraldo Deliliers

Eraldo Deliliers, one of the narrator’s young friends, becomes Fadigati’s lover. However, Eraldo manipulates the doctor, stealing Fadigati’s money to finance his escape from Italy to live in Paris.

Signora and Signor Lavezzoli

Signora Lavezzoli, the wife of an attorney, supports Benito Mussolini, because she believes that Fascism will be a stabilizing influence that can staunch the chaotic state of Italian society. Signora Lavezzoli is not only antisemitic but also anti-gay, as evidenced by her treatment of the doctor. Signor Lavezzoli, in contrast, understands the danger that the regime presents; however, he wishes things were different and attempts to turn a blind eye to the government’s discriminatory practices.

The Narrator’s Father

The narrator’s father is a businessman who tries to keep his head in the sand rather than acknowledge the increasingly widespread violence that the government is inflicting. As he attempts to protect his business interests, he detaches himself from his own Jewish identity and tries to ignore the implications of official antisemitism. The narrator feels pity rather than contempt for his weak father.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 492

The narrator

The narrator, a young man of age twenty (at the time of the main events of the story), a member of a middle-class Jewish family of Ferrara and a student of literature at the University of Bologna. He is becoming aware of the impact of Fascism on his family and on all Jews. Sensitive and sympathetic to the trials of other Jews, yet barely grasping what the growing anti-Semitism of the Fascist regime may mean to Italian Jews, he witnesses the torments of Dr. Fadigati, who is in his own way just as much an outsider as the narrator is going to be in Italian Fascist society.

Dr. Athos Fadigati

Dr. Athos Fadigati (AHT-ohs fah-dee-GAH-tee), an ear, nose, and throat specialist who came from Venice and settled in Ferrara. Middle-aged and overweight, Fadigati became somewhat of a society doctor, for a time, until his penchant for young men became known. He takes one of the narrator’s friends to Riccione, on the Adriatic Sea, for a vacation, and is more or less despised by other families. As an outsider, he attracts the narrator’s pity, especially when the boy whom Fadigati takes to the seashore absconds with all of Fadigati’s money. The doctor by then has lost much of his fashionable clientele, and eventually he takes his own life.

Eraldo Deliliers

Eraldo Deliliers (ehr-AHL-doh deh-lee-LEE -ehrz), a young schoolmate of the narrator, a handsome young boy who is admired by all of his classmates. There is a thread of opportunism to his character. When he takes up with Dr. Fadigati, that seems to seal his fate, and even though the narrator sympathizes with him and converses with him at Riccione, Deliliers is interested only in the best opportunities for his own welfare. He leaves Fadigati at Riccione, having stolen...

(The entire section contains 1529 words.)

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