La Storia

by Jerre Mangione, Ben Morreale

Start Free Trial

What is the summary and analysis of chapter 3 in La Storia?

Quick answer:

The third chapter of La Storia by Jerre Mangione and Ben Morreale focuses on life in Italy before immigration. The authors discuss Italian unification and the life of southern Italians, many of whom came to the United States. This presentation of Italian culture and beliefs gives readers a vivid picture of Italy and its people and sets the stage for further discussions of Italian Americans.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In chapter 3 of La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience , authors Jerre Mangione and Ben Morreale turn their attention to the immigrants left behind and Italy's struggles with revolution and unification. They explain that in the early nineteenth century, Italy was still split into eight...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

states, which were largely ruled by foreigners or the popes. Many Italians called for independence and Italian self-rule. Led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italians forced the Bourbon dynasty out of theMezzogiorno, the part of Italy south of Rome, and Victor Emmanuel II, who was the king of the Italian state of Piedmont, took over the rule.

Southerners, however, were not at all happy with this arrangement, for they were still not truly free or self-governing, and many of them, along with some from northern Italy, emigrated to the United States. Italy was still not truly a united nation. Rather, it was a place of poverty and often oppression, and by 1930, over 4.5 million Italians had moved to America. Just as many more would have joined them except for restrictive immigration laws.

Italy was not a united country or a united culture. Many people spoke regional dialects rather than Italian, and they considered them Christians first, then citizens of a region or community rather than Italians. Most future immigrants were extremely poor, and life in the south was difficult and often short. Most southerners worked in agriculture, laboring under the blazing sun in the extremely hot summer.

Transportation was largely by donkey, if one was lucky. Most people lived in small villages, and their main source of entertainment was socialization at the local market or in their homes. Houses were crude, occupied by both humans and animals. There was no sanitation and little light. Food was simple and sparse with bread as the mainstay. These people gathered around their churches and maintained their traditions year after year, celebrating their feasts, mourning their dead, telling their stories, and honoring their saints.

The purpose of this chapter is to give readers an idea of what life was like for those who eventually immigrated to America and for those who stayed behind. It gives readers an important context for the reasons for immigration and the traditions and customs immigrants carried with them. The authors do a fine job of telling the story of Italy's troubled unification, and the details they add to their descriptions of southern Italian life give vibrancy and interest to their narrative. The chapter sets the stage for future discussions of Italian-American culture and beliefs.

Approved by eNotes Editorial