Nationalism

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

Rosinella identifies strongly as an Italian. She believes Italians to be superior to Scottish people.

  • She says to Lucia Listen, hen, you’re Italian, that makes you special.
  • She haggles in shops even although this is not usual behaviour in Scotland - But it’s alright for me. I’m an Italian.
  • She believes Italians to be hardworking and devoted to their families, unlike Scottish people. She states that I don’t know anybody works so hard as the Italian men and claims Nobody loves their families like the Italians.

Rosinella’s fierce nationalism leads her to be prejudiced against Scottish people.

  • She implies that Scottish girls are promiscuous and tells Franco that he can play around with them, so long as you marry your own kind.
  • She suggests that Scottish people do not take their family responsibilities seriously. - 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.

Massimo

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:

quote
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.

Lucia

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.

Franco

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:

quote
I was born here. That makes me British

And his loving relationship with Bridget shows that nationality is of less importance to him.

Bridget

Although she loves Franco, Bridget shows some anti-Italian feeling, directed towards Rosinella, and refers to Typical ‘eye-ties’.