“I Malavoglia” is the great work of Giovanni Verga, who was an Italian writer of the 19th century. He was one of the pioneers of realism, a narrative style of that time in which there was the presentation of the daily routine.
In fact, the novel “I Malavoglia” tells the story of a fisherman’s family who lives and works in Aci Trezza, a small Sicilian village near the city of Catania.
Let’s discover the plot!
In this village live a Tuscan family, nicknamed Malavoglia. The patriarch is Padron ‘Ntoni, a widower, who lives in the house of his uncle together with his son, Bastianazzo, who is married with Maruzza.
Bastianazzo has five children: ‘Ntoni, Filomena (called Mena or Sant’Agata), Alessio, (Alessi) Luca and Rosalia (called Lia). The main means of subsistence their small boat used for fishing, which is named the “Provvidenza“.
In 1863, ‘Ntoni, the oldest son, went to military service.
This event will mark the beginning of the ruin of his family.
In fact ‘Ntoni, thanks to this help, was essential to the family. But when he leaves, these gains are missing. To overcome this loss, Padron ‘Ntoni tries a deal by buying a large quantity of lupini beans, by a compatriot named Zio Crocifisso because of his continued complaints and his deep pessimism.
But during the voyage to Riposto, the boat is subject to shipwreck and Bastianazzo dies. As a result of this tragedy, the family also suffer from another terrible event: the father, who is the main source of family livelihood, died, while the lupine debt is still to be paid and Provvidenza must be repaired. When the military service is over, ‘Ntoni goes back to the harsh life of a fisherman but he does not give any support to the precarious economic situation of the family.
The bad luck for the family does not end.
In fact, Luca, one of the other sons, dies in the battle of Lissa of 1866.
The debt contracted by Zio Crocifisso also costs to the family the loss of their “Casa del Nespolo” house, and the reputation and honor of the family get worse, reaching humiliating levels.
To increase these bad situation, there is a new shipwreck of “Provvidenza” and Padron ‘Ntoni risks to die. Maruzza, the wife of Bastianazzo, dies because of cholera.
Because of these numerous tragedies, ‘Ntoni decides to leave the country with the hope to make money, but then he returns, without any desire of working and giving himself up to alcoholism.
Previously, when ‘Ntoni left Aci Trezza, the family was forced to sell their boat to accumulate money in order to repurchase the house but this was not possible also because of other reasons.
After many years, Padron ‘Ntoni’s is very old and he is out of his mind.
Accordingly, his relatives decide to take him to the hospital.
Lia, the youngest of the family became a prostitute in Catania city.
While Mena who feels shamed about her sister’s situation chooses not to marry Alfio, whom she is in love with, and stays in the house to look after the children of Nunziata and Alessi, her younger brother, who continuing his work of fisherman, was able to rebuilt the family, buying the “Casa del Nespolo” house.
After buying the house, the few members of Malavoglia (that have survived to these continuous tragedies) decide to visit at the hospital the now old Padron ‘Ntoni to inform him of the sale and to announce to him an imminent return home. This is the last happy moment for the old man (and another tragedy!), because he dies just in the day of his longing for his return.
So his desire to die in the house where he was born has not been realized.
Meanwhile, when ‘Ntoni comes out of prison, he returns to the country and to his family’s house. However, he realizes that he can’t remain there because of his past.
Accordingly, with his behavior he has been self-excluded from family, denying all his values.
Thus, he is forced to leave his own home even if that house was the only place where he could have lived in a better way, without the risks of serious economic problems.