Nationalism and national identity is an important theme. The title Tally’s Blood suggests the importance of Italian family ties, but the nickname Tally also suggests the negative side of nationalism.
The characters define themselves in relation to their national heritage and the country they live in.
Rosinella identifies strongly as an Italian. She believes Italians to be superior to Scottish people.
Listen, hen, you’re Italian, that makes you special.
But it’s alright for me. I’m an Italian.
I don’t know anybody works so hard as the Italian menand claims
Nobody loves their families like the Italians.
Rosinella’s fierce nationalism leads her to be prejudiced against Scottish people.
play around with them, so long as you marry your own kind.
OK, so Scotch people let their lassies go anywhere, do anything they like because they don’t care as much.
By defining people by their nationality, Rosinella is blind to their true characters – Hughie’s hard work, Bridget’s love for Franco.
In contrast to Rosinella, Massimo does not hold the same prejudices against the Scots.
Massimo has a dual identity - born in Italy, raised in Scotland. This creates conflict when war breaks out, as he says:
I always thought I was lucky. I had two countries. Now I feel I’ve got nowhere.
Massimo and his family are victims of fierce anti-Italian prejudice - his shop is attacked and they are subjected to racial slurs, such as
Fascist pigs. Greasy tallies.
When Italy joins the war, it is assumed that Italian men are enemy aliens. They are rounded up and held prisoner. Massimo’s monologue suggests they were roughly treated.
As a child, Lucia is reluctant to give up her Italian identity.
In school she refuses to speak English and her teacher tells Rosinella and Massimo to stop speaking Italian at home. The classroom scene shows that Lucia suffers prejudice from her teacher.
By speaking Italian, Lucia attempts to stay true to her Italian heritage. When she grows up, however, she is embarrassed by Rosinella’s Italian customs after she bargains in a shop. This shows Lucia to have a conflicting attitude towards her dual identity.
Throughout the play, Franco is clearly proud of his Italian heritage. He frequently talks in Italian and enjoys singing Italian songs. Despite his Italian heritage, Franco sees himself as British. He tells Massimo:
I was born here. That makes me British
And his loving relationship with Bridget shows that nationality is of less importance to him.
Although she loves Franco, Bridget shows some anti-Italian feeling, directed towards Rosinella, and refers to