Silvestro Ferrauto (fehr-rah-EW-toh), the narrator of the story, who is thirty years old. Disturbed by the turmoil in Italy, he decides to return to his native Sicily, which he left at the age of fifteen. He is especially moved to take the trip after receiving a letter from his father stating that he has left his mother; Silvestro spontaneously decides to visit her in Recalmuto, his birthplace, in part to discover himself. Leaving his job as a Linotype operator in Milan, Silvestro travels by train to Sicily, meeting a number of unique characters who help him to find peace and understanding of the world in which he lives.
Concezione Ferrauto (kohn-chay-ZEE-oh-nay), the narrator’s mother, who lives simply in the village and makes a living giving injections to the inhabitants, who are plagued by consumption and malaria. She takes Silvestro on her rounds of giving injections and introduces him to the many different characters in the village. When asked why her husband left her, she pretends that she threw him out. Her simple life impresses Silvestro, especially the stoicism with which she faces the wartime death of Silvestro’s brother.
Great Lombard, a nickname given to one of Silvestro’s fellow passengers on the train journey across Sicily. He is Sicilian but of Lombard...
(The entire section is 531 words.)