Massimo

Massimo was born in Italy but grew up in Scotland. Unlike Rosinella he does not show prejudice. He feels a dual identity - connected to both countries. However, the onset of war disrupts this connection.

quote
I always thought I was lucky. I had two countries. Now I feel I've got nowhere.

Massimo's treatment during the war, and the death of his father and Franco could contribute to his desire to return to Italy.

Massimo can be described as:

  • Loving
  • Family man
  • Hardworking
  • Generous

Loving

From the beginning of the play, Massimo's loving nature is shown through his affectionate interaction with Rosinella and Lucia. He is playful with Lucia and tries to make her laugh. He is affectionate with Rosinella.

Question

What stage directions suggest Massimo is loving?

He smiles with great affection at Rosinella and squeezes her cheek between his thumb and forefinger.

And with Lucia he kisses her shoes and he pulls her to him, hugs her and wipes her eyes, wipes her nose. This highlights their close relationship.

It is perhaps Massimo's loving nature that means he puts up with some of Rosinella's more extreme behaviour. But when pushed, Massimo shows strength of character in confronting Rosinella's prejudiced views and selfish behaviour.

Family man

As well as his close relationship with Rosinella and Lucia, Massimo feels strong bonds to his wider family.

His monologue shows deep affection and mourning for his father.

Despite fiercely arguing with Franco, it is clear the two are close. Massimo is willing to cover up for his brother when he is dating Bridget.

While Rosinella works in the back shop, Massimo is clearly the public face of the shop and the family. He is a traditional male head of the house. When he slaps Lucia for swearing, this very traditional physical punishment is shocking in contrast to his gentle nature. While Rosinella is aware of what is going on between Lucia and Hughie, Massimo is not - as the male bread-winner, his attention is on earning for his family.

Hard-working

It is clear that Massimo works hard. He has set up his own shop and it is a success. When Rosinella says of Italians Who else is prepared to work to eleven o'clock every night? it is likely she is referring to Massimo.

Massimo has the courage to leave his father's business to set up his own shop. Throughout the play, Massimo's strong work ethic is evident as he works long hours to maintain his business and support his family.

Work is important to Massimo. It is thinking about his business that sees him through his internment.

quote
That's what got me through. If I thought about what was going to happen to us - I just got scared. If I thought about Rosinella...(Stops. His voice catches) So I tried to keep thinking about my shop. How I was going to fix it up again, back the way it was.

The thought of hard work is positive for Massimo. It is likely that he is so fond of Hughie as he appreciates that he too is willing to work hard.

But work is also possibly a way for Massimo to avoid conflict. When Lucia throws her tantrum in Act 1 Scene 2, Massimo keeps glancing in direction of shop.

Generous

Massimo acts as a kind father figure to Bridget and Hughie who have lost their own father.

His generosity is clear when he gives Bridget money without question. He gives her three pounds even though she only asks for two.

He is also keen to nurture Hughie's development. This is shown through Massimo's offer of employment.

Luigi also benefits from Massimo's generosity. Despite Massimo knowing he is being manipulated, he literally gives Luigi the clothes off his back.