What do I need to know about ... Italy?

Brief Description
Italy is the home country of the majority of the characters in the play. The time period in which the play is set finds Italy in an economic depression. This in turn leads to Marco and Rodolpho traversing the seas in search for the Great American Dream (work and opportunity).
Italy and America also have significant cultural differences, which are well highlighted in the conflicts between characters such as Eddie and Rodolpho. Fundamentally the play depicts a conflict between the passionate and powerful Italian values against the more conventional and systematic American way.

Key Quotations

“Rodolpho: In harvest time we work in the fields...if there is work. Anything” – Pg. 28.
“Rodolpho: How much? We hear all kinds of figures. How much can a man make?” - Pg. 29.
These quotations highlight the desperate economic situation in Italy; showing both the lack of work in Italy and the characters’ keenness to work in the USA and Italy alike.
“Eddie: ...thirty, forty a week...
Marco: Dollars.
Eddie: Sure dollars.
[Marco puts an arm round Rodolpho and they laugh]” - Pg. 29/30
This exchange between Marco and Eddie, and Marco’s final reaction shows the fact that it is nigh impossible for them to obtain such a sum of money in Italy; thus highlighting their reason for their comming to the USA.

“Rodolpho: It’s more strict in our town [Eddie looks at him now.] It’s not so free” – Pg. 52
This quote shows that Rodolpho believes that he does not need Eddie’s permission to court Catherine as this is America. He then continues to state that in Italy such a thing would not be accepted.
“Marco: The law? All the law is not in a book.
Alfieri: Yes. In a book. There is no other law” – Pg. 79
In this brief discussion the contrast between Italian values and American values is represented by Marco and Alfieri. Marco's perception appears to be that there is a law above the book; the law of morality. Alfieri however counters this with a claim that that the law of morality does not count above the law of morality in the USA.

Its role in the novel

Italy plays a subtle yet influential role in the play; the strong values which are imprinted upon the characters result in the eventual deterioration of the characters’ relations with each other. There is not only conflict between the “fresh” Italians (Rodolpho and Marco) and the "American influenced" Italians (Eddie, Catherine and Beatrice) but also conflict within the characters themsevles. Rodolpho and Marco's individual strong values will conflict with the new American lifestyle that they have to adapt to; whilst Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine struggle to find balance between old Italy and new America is renewed due to the arrival of the "fresh" Italians.