The Moon and the Bonfires Characters

Cesare Pavese

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Like the heroes of many classic novels, the narrator returns to his native place to find those elements in his past which will give meaning to his identity as a human being and assure him of his place in the scheme of existence. The narrator, however, receives no nourishment from his return. His sojourn in his native village gains for him no serenity. He speaks of events in a flat, unemotional tone, as if afraid to let down his guard and risk being wounded. His psychological wound—the knowledge that he is illegitimate—prevents him from giving himself completely to the joys of life, although his feel for the land and his attraction to Nuto and the boy Cinto prove his yearning to do so.

Nuto embodies that serenity and self-assuredness which the narrator finds attractive, even enviable. Nuto is a realist. He is not disillusioned by the course of life but at the same time understands the need for holding on to ideals, as when he tells the narrator that he believes in the moon, in its power as a force of nature and as a symbol. Proof of Nuto’s hardihood is that he has survived the war. Living quietly and contentedly, he helps the narrator remember the past and has no regrets.

Clever yet vulnerable, Cinto is drawn to the narrator as to a symbol of romance—the exciting life of travel and adventure in the new world. Cinto’s own boyhood, like the narrator’s, is filled with loneliness and even fear. Cinto’s father, Valino, is a violent...

(The entire section is 520 words.)