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The Story of a New Name Summary & Study Guide Description
The Story of a New Name Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
All of the characters are back in the second book of Elena Ferrante’s Naples series, The Story of a New Name. Lila is married to Stefano. She is immediately disgusted with him because he made a deal with the Solara brothers. For Lila, Stefano is a different person, not the kind man she married but a weak man who will deal with the devil to make some extra money. Their honeymoon is terrible. Lila tells him of her anger and that she will not sleep with him. He beats her into submission. She returns home with a swollen face, but her family looks the other way.
Meanwhile, Elena is back in school. She is very distracted from Lila’s wedding. She drowns her sorrows in sexual encounters with Antonio and hopes that something amazing will happen to her. She barely skates through the last few months of school with minimally passing grades.
The girls hook up over the summer, and Lila asks Elena to come and study in her apartment. Elena is entranced with Lila’s apartment, almost too distracted to study.
Meanwhile, Stefano and Rino have gone into business with the Solara brothers, to open a shoe store in Naples on the Piazza. The Solaras have also invested in Stefano’s new grocery store. Lila helps Stefano in the grocery store, although Michele Solara thinks she would be effective working in the new shoe store. On the piazza in Naples, Michele sees a photo of Lila in her wedding dress that the dressmaker has displayed. Stefano goes to the shop, with Elena, and asks the dressmaker to remove it, but it is a very popular photo. Since Lila is very beautiful and she is wearing Cerrullo shoes, Michele asks if they can take the photo, enlarge it, and hang it in the store. When Stefano will not agree to this, Elena and Lila make a bet. If Stefano changes his mind , Elena must make perfect marks the next year in high school. If not, Lila must return to school.
Antonio is drafted into the army, and Elena tries to get him exempted by going to Michele Solara and asking for him to use his connections. This move makes Antonio mad and he ends the relationship with her. After seeing Elena a handful of times with Nino Sarratore, he is already jealous and sure that Elena is cheating on him. While Elena wouldn’t mind having a relationship with Nino, she sees him one day after school with a very beautiful and classy girl. Nino sees Elena a few times, and is always kind; once he actually kisses her on the cheek, but the next minute he is kissing his girlfriend. Elena is confused and depressed and feels she will never match the class of the girl he is kissing.
Stefano refuses to hang the photo; Elena pushes Lila to join her in school, but she is pregnant. There is unrest in the shops- Michele is engaged to Gigliola, but wants Lila to be the one at work in the shoe store. Pinuccia, now engaged to Rino, works in Stefano’s grocery, and he wants to be the shoe store manager. For a time, the men compromise and let the girls run the store together. Eventually Stefano agrees to let Michele hang the photo of Lila in the store, but Lila spends 2-3 days changing the photo, covering her eyes with paper and paint and making the photo abstract. Pinuccia and Gigliola can’t stand the photo, but Michele likes it. Soon after this, the shoe store opens, and Lila loses the baby.
Elena returns to school and is doing very well. She still sees Nino now and then. Lila is depressed; she wasn’t excited about being pregnant, but the tension and nerves of losing the baby is worse. She goes to work in the grocery for Stefano, helping the neighborhood people out now and then with extra money if they need it.
After Christmas, Pinuccia finds herself pregnant and she and Rino must marry immediately. Professor Galiani invites Elena to a party and she asks Lila to go with her. At the party, the other young people there are excited to see Elena. The young people discuss books and politics and pay no attention at all to Lila. Elena feels valued in this element. While there she sees Nino, and discovers that the young girl she’d seen him with is the Professor’s daughter Nadia. Elena has a wonderful time at the party, but as Stefano is driving the girls home, Lila is extremely rude and cruel, belittling Elena and making her and her friends look foolish. Elena’s feelings are hurt and she cuts Lila off for months.
In the interim, she spends time with other neighborhood kids. Antonio returns from military service after having a nervous breakdown. The Peluso’s father dies in prison, and the mother kills herself soon after. Rino and Pinuccia are married. Through all of this, Lila and Elena don’t talk. Elena takes a job at a bookstore after school is over, and sees Nino often. He sometimes kisses her and holds her hand, he tells her that he will be on Ischia for the summer with a friend; that she should join him. Soon after, several neighborhood kids come to Elena to tell her that she should talk to Lila; that Lila needs to visit the doctor, but she will not until Elena will talk to her again.
Elena finally consents to see her; Lila apologizes for her behavior and sees the doctor, who says she isn’t strong enough to stay pregnant. He recommends a vacation. Stefano rents a house on Amalfi, and Lila begs Elena to come, promising to pay her whatever she’d have made at the bookstore. Elena thinks of Nino and agrees if they can go to Ischia instead.
They rent a house on Ischia for a month with Lila’s mother and Pinuccia. Rino and Stefano come on the weekends and go back to Naples for the week. Elena quickly finds Nino and his friend Bruno Saccavo, and the five young people fall into a rhythm. For a while, Elena feels that Nino likes her, but she won’t tell Lila how she feels. He continues to solicit her attention, hold her hand, even kiss her. But suddenly the tables turn and it’s obvious that he’s infatuated with Lila. Their attraction grows, is obvious. Pinuccia, who is heavily pregnant, leaves. Elena catches Nino and Lila kissing, and the affair blows open. At the end of the trip, before Stefano comes to stay for a full week, Lila begs Elena to cover for her so that she can stay in Nino’s house alone with him. Elena agrees because it’s better to stay in their lives than to lose them both. The night Nino and Lila are together, Elena goes to the house that Nino’s family is staying at, and sleeps with Nino’s father, Donato.
After their night together, things unravel as Elena is shocked that they would carry on with Lila married. She sees Michele Solara and Gigliola on the beach one day, and Nino and Lila emerge from the water holding hands. Stefano shows up a few days later, angry because he heard the story. There are beatings and fights, and the next day they all leave, and Lila and Elena are basically finished.
Elena finishes her last year of school, her friendship with Lila gone cold, and gets a scholarship to a university in Pisa, all paid for. Just before she leaves for Pisa, she happens to stop by the shoe store on the Piazza to see if Lila is around. She is there, with Nino, and announces to Lila that she is pregnant. She goes back over the year and tells Elena the story: after the return from Ischia she doesn’t see Nino for months, and then he shows up one day at the grocery. They begin their affair again. Lila acts as docile as possible to Stefano and does whatever he asks so she can see Nino in secret. Soon it’s too hard to find a place to see him, so she manipulates the men into letting her work at the shoe store; Nino sees her there in the afternoon when the store is closed for the hottest part of the day. This lasts for months. Lila begins to hide money, eventually rents an apartment for Nino. Eventually, she gets the courage to leave Stefano.
She moves in with Nino. It lasts three weeks. Meanwhile, Michele Solara has hired Antonio to work for him and sets Antonio out to find her. He does, and after he sees Nino leave her, he beats the mess out of Nino, making him promise never to go back to Lila. But he doesn’t tell Michele; instead he tells Enzo and Pasquale. Enzo goes to the apartment and fetches Lila, takes her back to Stefano, but tells her that he’ll always come back for her if she needs him.
Meanwhile, Elena is doing well at Pisa. She meets a young man and stays with him for two years- he takes her places and buys her things and helps her feel like she belongs. She does very well in school, and hears nothing of Lila, and only comes home but seldom. She makes it home for Easter and sees Lila. Lila tells her that after returning home to Stefano, his behavior goes very erratic. The baby is born, doesn’t look like Nino or Stefano although it could be either. It’s a boy, named Rino. Lila decides she must educate him and make him smart so he won’t be poor. During this period she learns that Stefano has been sleeping with Ada much longer than she’d been with Nino. Their relationship deteriorates further. Stefano does what he pleases with Ada but is jealous and protective of Lila. Ada asks him to choose; he won’t. She is pregnant, she demands that he forces Lila out; he won’t. Finally, Michele Solara, to whom Stefano owes plenty of money, makes Stefano ask Lila to move in with him. Lila won’t. Elena has, by this time, gone to Enzo and asked him to get Lila out of the marriage. Months later, after securing an apartment and a job for himself, he does.
During her last year in Pisa, Elena meets a new young man. He is the son of a famous professor. She graduates with honors but is not granted a job as a professor. Her boyfriend proposes to her. In a fit of reminiscence Elena writes down the story of her youth in third-person, novel form, and gives it to her fiancé, Pietro. Pietro gives it to his mother, who sends it to a publisher in Milan- Elena’s novel is going to be published.
In the blush of pride and excitement of a fiancé and a novel, Elena goes to see Lila. Lila is living with Enzo in a terrible neighborhood and working in Bruno Soccavo’s sausage factory. She looks terrible, but she is happy. Her son is very smart, and she and Enzo are working on something new together in their spare time. Lila has her hands on something exciting, and that drives her despite the sad conditions of her life. Elena is humbled; she thought she would lord her success over Lila, but she can’t. The part in peace.
Elena’s book is published. She goes to a bookseller’s event and sees Nino Sarratore.
This section contains 1,952 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)