One must take careful consideration before acting, because the aftermath can lead to a chain of events whose consequences can be disastrous. Nino Ricci’s Lives of the Saints is an excellent example of how the consequences of a person’s actions can affect everyone around them, including themselves. First, Cristina makes several choices throughout the novel that not only reflect her thoughtlessness, but her inability to see that it affects people beyond herself. The repercussions of Cristina’s actions demonstrates that she is not aware that her actions bring with them broken relationships that are beyond repair.
Cristina’s value system is distorted as she is not looking at what is best for her child but rather temporary satisfaction for herself. Cristina Innocente is a selfish, headstrong character, who makes careless choices, acts impulsively, and has immoral values that ultimately leads to her demise and leaves behind the ramifications for her survivors to deal with. Cristina Innocente’s choices demonstrate that she does not realize nor care about the consequences and whom it involves. She can barely see beyond herself to notice her son. This behaviour shows that Cristina values immediate gratification over future rewards.
Cristina makes the conscious decision to betray her husband, and have an extra-marital affair which shows that she gave little thought to the effect it would have on the people she loves and should protect. Cristina’s husband betrays her by being abusive towards her, however the negative actions of someone else is their sin. It does not mean that one can be given the right to act sinful as well. The consequences of Cristina’s affair goes well beyond herself as it affects her husband, her son, Vitto, and her father. Cristina’s decision to have the affair results in the villagers of Valle del Sole to lose all respect for her and her father.
Vitto’s grandfather resigns from his position as mayor, because of the shame he experiences and how the people of Valle del Sole attitude towards him change. Her actions give yet another reason for her father’s anger towards the world. Cristina’s father lost his wife during his daughter’s birth and presently, she is bringing shame to their name by having a relationship with someone other than her husband. Cristina’s choice took away her father’s honour and purpose in life. Now, he sits dejectedly in his bedroom with no family, but his sister, Aunt Luccia and her daughter, Marta.
The affair affects Cristina’s husband as well. Mario is in Canada trying to do the noble thing by sending money back to his wife and trying to find a suitable place to live in the hopes that one day his family can join him. His wife is disregarding this and is sneaking around their tiny village with another man. Vitto is deeply affected by Cristina’s choice of having the affair because the affair fosters a sequence of catastrophic events that involves her young son. The whole village is aware of her infidelity to him and he is continuing his life without knowledge of this.
To a man of his generation, in the 1960’s, it could be viewed as the highest insult and dishonour that could come to someone. Cristina’s actions led her to not only being shunned by the villagers, but her son as well. It can be seen that the effects of Cristina’s infidelity is greatest for her young innocent child. Her actions result in his physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at school. The boys in the village relentlessly bully him and effectively have him pay for the sins of his mother. The next impulsive move that Cristina makes is the choice to travel to Canada while she is eight months into her pregnancy.
The consequences of this choice is disastrous because this causes her to go into labour on the boat. The only doctor on the boat is very unprofessional. The doctor is eager to get the delivery over with as soon as possible so that he could go back to sleep because he has a hangover. This causes him to make careless choices during the delivery and as a result, Cristina passes away. This outcome could have been prevented if she had waited to have the baby in Italy and then travelled, but because of her impulsive choice she looses her life. Vitto and Cristina’s newborn baby are affected by this because they are left without a mother.
They are now going to have to live with Vitto’s father, Mario. Vitto’s father has a history of being violent and there is no way of knowing of how he is going to treat Cristina’s children without her there to protect them. It is particularly worrisome for the child that is not biologically his, but is a result and a reminder of his wife’s infidelity. Lastly, Cristina places too much reliance on Vitto. She expects this child to take care of her and play the role of a spouse. This is seen in the hospital after she gets bitten by the snake and they are waiting for the doctor to enter the room.
Cristina comments to Vitto, “You’ll take care of me, eh, Vittorio? ” (Ricci 19). Cristina expects Vitto to take care of her and makes it very clear to this child that this is the role she expects him to play. This is a poor choice because Cristina should be comforting Vitto and telling him that she is going to be okay instead of treating him as an adult and putting adult responsibilities on him. Vitto is only six years old, he is too young to be treated in this way. The consequence of Cristina’s choice will force Vitto to grow up too quickly and he will miss his already fleeting childhood.
Also, he will get the wrong message in his role in the family. Therefore, Cristina can be regarded as a sinner and a manipulator. She allows herself to make choices that impact other events in her’s and her family’s life. Cristina’s choices and actions exhibit negative consequences to the people in her life. Cristina Innocente’s hasty actions have affected Vitto in every part of his life. First, Cristina rips up the money Mario sent from Canada for no reason other than her pride. Alfredo, Mario’s friend, makes a comment to Cristina about her affair and how Mario will react.
This comment reminds her of how the villagers believe that she is only with Mario for the money. This causes Cristina to rip up the money, which she could have otherwise used for Vitto. The money is originally for her son to purchase new clothes for the winter months. Now, because of Cristina’s impractical and inconsiderate actions, Vitto will no longer receive that money for new clothes. Vitto’s well-being and needs should have been put first before her pride. Next, Cristina takes her infidelity to a new level as she tries to escape to Canada, with the man she had an affair with.
When Cristina is speaking with Luciano in Rocca Secca, she mentions going to America. Cristina says, “Maybe we’ll run off to America together [… ] Who’s joking? America’s a big place. No one would ever find us there” (Ricci 65). She is now admitting to her infidelity, with the German soldier she is seeing. Cristina tries to escape the results of her mistakes and attempts to erase the memory of her actions. Cristina’s choice to run can be seen as her inability to cope with the effects of her sin and the hope that she can erase any negative actions by ignoring them.
She is hopeful to be able to start over where no-one knows her and cannot judge her. In turn, Cristina no longer has to see what others see in her. She leaves her poor father behind who is bedridden because he has a broken leg. One hopes Cristina will redeem herself by caring for her father, who is now in need of help. Instead, Cristina runs off with a man, who is not her husband, without any regard for her father and her son. Once again Cristina is only thinking of herself instead of her family. Lastly, Cristina makes the terrible judgement of trying to show that she is righteous by beating up her childhood friend, Maria.
Although she has the right to defend her son against Maria’s son, Vincenzio, who beats up Vitto, she is doing what the villagers do to Vitto. Cristina is blaming her friend for the actions of Vincenzio, just as Vitto is being blamed for the sin of his mother. This makes her choice to beat up her friend no different than what Maria’s son did to Vitto. Cristina’s actions have lasting effects on others and her values, she believes are justifying those actions. Cristina’s negative qualities outweigh her redeeming ones. Firstly, Cristina has an abundance of pride.
She allows it to get in the way of her actions. Her pride leads to her choices and never in the right direction. Also, Crisitina’s pride causes her to believe that she is better than the villagers of Valle del Sole. The villagers notice this and dislike her even more. After the village is aware of her infidelity, her father gives her some sound advice. Vitto’s granthfather says, “You carry your shame on the streets, you force people to point a finger at you. What you’ve done, you’ve done and may God forgive you for it; but that’s not the way to be with people” (Ricci 164).
It is seen that the villagers have noticed her attitude in relation to them. The inhabitants of Valle del Sole make Cristina’s life for more difficult because her pride is getting in the way of her feeling repentant over her mistakes. The villagers judge her so harshly because she refuses to make a gesture. Her pride will not allow her to feel repentant and in the process she makes Vitto’s life more difficult. Next, Cristina is impractical, as seen when she forcefully rips up the money sent to her by Mario.
She does not think about the best ways to live her life among the people that care about her. Lastly, Cristina is selfish and inconsiderate. She only thinks of herself when she acts and not how her actions will affect her son. Vitto is an innocent child who depends on his mother for his well being and Cristina has brought to him many difficulties in his already difficult situation of being born into an abusive household. This value system that Cristina carries with her is detrimental to Vitto, because every action and choice she makes affects him directly.
All the instances, such as when she rips up the money, runs off with the German soldier, travelling too late in her pregnancy and relying too much on Vitto, all have harmful affects on him. Her value system has lead to Vitto’s physical, psychological and sexual abuse throughout the novel. Vitto is only six years old and he does not deserve the treatment he is getting just because his mother is too selfish to look at the repercussions of her actions. From this, one can conclude that Cristina can be seen as a sinner as she lets avoidable events take place because of her strong opinions. These opinions get in the way of good decision making.
Cristina Innocente is a selfish, foolhardy character for which, through her thoughtless choices, hasty actions and unforgivable values, leads to events that can be prevented. Her choices just end up harming those closest to her. One’s actions are never just actions, they are the mirror to their souls. One can view another’s character by just observing their actions and behaviours in any giving situation. For Cristina, she had choices and opportunities to do the right thing, to make her life, her son’s life and her father’s life better. She alone made bad choices and the negative outcomes were, unfortunately for her and her family, inevitable.