Difficult Loves Characters

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Difficult Loves Summary & Study Guide Description

Difficult Loves Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino.

Giua Dei Fichiappears in Wartime Stories, Animal Woods

Giua Dei Fichi is a caricature of a comical Italian peasant, like a character out of an old fairy tale. Giua is a short, humble man with a round face and brightly colored, motley clothing, well-known as the worst shot in the village. Giua's only valuable possession is his cow, Cochineal, and when Giua sees a German soldier steal his cow, he sneaks along following them, although he is terrified. Giua shows that he is also compassionate when he holds back from shooting any of the animals in the woods, because he does not want to destroy the property of the other townspeople. He shows his resourcefulness in building a tower out of stones to help steady his aim, though he does not end up shooting the German, his target.

After the German has died from his own confusion, Giua is known as a hero to the town and a great hunter, even though he still cannot shoot anything. Giua is a good example of the way that many people show unexpected reserves of valor and strength in times of war, making unlikely heroes. He and his friends show how people had to make the best of their situation during World War II.

Maria-nunziataappears in Riviera Stories, Adam, One Afternoon

Maria-nunziata is a thirteen-year-old girl on the verge of womanhood. Her name refers to the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, which symbolizes her innocence, since Maria-nunziata has had a strict Catholic upbringing and is not really aware of life outside the Catholic Church. She is a poor peasant, one of fifteen children, and she works as a kitchen maid at an estate, washing dishes and serving food. She is still skinny from childhood, but she is filling out with puberty, and she accentuates this by wearing high heels, even though they hurt her feet. She fantasizes about the day when she can wear lipstick, but she does not seem to understand all that this implies.

Maria-nunziata is puzzled and amused at meeting Libereso, a non-Catholic, vegetarian anarchist, but she is curious about the unknown world he seems to open to her. She is too grossed out to accept any of his animal gifts, and she is strangely discomfited and confused by the sight of mating frogs, which represents this new knowledge of the outside world and sex. When new things make her uncomfortable, she tends to giggle a lot. In this allegory of Adam and Eve, Maria-nunziata is Eve, who learns that such pleasant forays into the unknown can have unexpected, messy consequences. As a result of Maria-nunziata shirking her dish-washing to play in the garden, her dishes are all dirty again, and she has to dispose of a small zoo.

Liberesoappears in Riviera Stories, Adam, One Afternoon

Libereso, whose name means "Liberty," is the new garden boy at the estate. He loves showing different animals to his new friend. He is an anarchist who wears his hair like a girl.

Old Bismaappears in Wartime Stories, Hunger at Bevera

Old Bisma is a very old, deaf man, who volunteers to take his ancient mule to get bread for his town during a dangerous battle.

Bintaappears in Wartime Stories, Fear on the Footpath

Binta is the fastest courier available to send military messages because he knows the countryside so well. He is tired and terrified, but he keeps going, to try to save lives.

Zeffirinoappears in Riviera Stories, Big Fish, Little Fish

Zeffirino is a little boy who loves swimming and fishing. He tries to cheer up a lady who is crying.

Giovanninoappears in Riviera Stories, The Enchanted Garden

Giovannino is a little peasant boy who discovers a fancy garden one day. He and his friend play in it, but can not enjoy the luxury because they are too tense.

Quintoappears in Riviera Stories, A Goatherd at Luncheon

Quito is a teenage snob who thinks that he has nothing to do with the low-class goatherd that his parents hire.

Dolori Boysappears in Riviera Stories, A Ship Loaded With Crabs

The Dolori boys are a gang of little boys who go swimming in April. They like to engage in territorial disputes with their rivals, the Arenella gang.

Pietroappears in Riviera Stories, Lazy Sons

Pietro and his brother Andrea are lazy young men who accomplish absolutely nothing in their lives, despite their parents' desperate need for their help.

The Boy Sniperappears in Wartime Stories, The Crow Comes Last

A young country boy impresses the army so much with his marksmanship that they invite him to come along as a sniper. The boy enjoys shooting so much that he takes the same pleasure in shooting a pine cone as in shooting an enemy soldier.

Babyappears in Postwar Stories, Theft in a Pastry Shop

Baby is a burglar who gets distracted by his sweet tooth when he is robbing a pastry shop. He gets away when the police are also too busy eating to notice him escaping.

Emanueleappears in Postwar Stories, Dollars and the Demimondaine

Emanuele and his wife Jolanda make money by exchanging lire for dollars. He makes the mistake of sending his wife alone to do business, and has to gather every whore in town to get her back.

Barbagalloappears in Postwar Stories, Desire in November

Barbagallo is a poor homeless man who is naked under his trenchcoat. He exploits this for begging, and often gets arrested for public nudity.

Signora Isotta Barbarinoappears in Stories of Love and Loneliness, The Adventure of a Bather

Isotta is mortified when she loses her bathing suit in the ocean. She swims for hours in desperation, terrified to let anyone see her.

Antonino Paraggiappears in Stories of Love and Loneliness, The Adventure of a Photograp

Antonino makes fun of photography, until he becomes obsessed with creating a false reality through photographs.

Amedeo Olivaappears in Stories of Love and Loneliness, The Adventure of a Reader

Amedeo is so obsessed with reading novels that he is incapable of paying attention to his life, even though he spends his time lazing on the beach, swimming, and having casual sex with women he meets on the beach.

Amilcare Carrugaappears in Stories of Love and Loneliness, The Adventure of a Nearsight

Amilcare's world is transformed when he gets glasses, but they remind him of the passage of time, and he worries that he will never be thrilled about anything again.

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