Beneath a Scarlet Sky


Mark Sullivan

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Pino asks the gray man, Antonio, if he is Jewish. Antonio says he is not. Although some of the gray men are Jewish, many of them are prisoners of war. Before the discussion can move further, Leyers returns and yells at Pino for giving the men water. Pino fires back at Leyers and tells him that the men will die without proper food and water. Leyers tells Pino that there is a food shortage, but he will try to make sure the men get more water.
Pino can only take his role as an undercover operative so far. Unlike Leyers, he refuses to deny the gray men basic human decency. Surprisingly, Leyers partially comes around to Pino’s side, suggesting that he is not entirely without a conscience.
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The next stop of the day is Salò. Once again, Leyers asks Pino to come with him. They enter a sprawling villa where Benito Mussolini lives. Leyers uses Pino as his interpreter to converse with Mussolini. Mussolini is angry because he has no control over his own country. Meanwhile, conditions continue to worsen. The conversation is not fruitful, though Leyers makes promises to Mussolini that he will try to make sure things improve. Afterwards, Leyers and Pino leave and Leyers compliments Pino on a job well done. Pino gets angry with himself because the compliment makes him happy.   
Salò is the German puppet state set up during the German occupation of Italy during World War II. As is shown in the novel, it is where Mussolini lived for the majority of the war. In this scene, Mussolini is frustrated at his lack of control and though Leyers promises to fix it, his promise is empty. Both historically and in the novel, Mussolini retains little to no control over the state of Italy. Here, he is treated like a child by Leyers, who simply wants to pacify him and nothing more. Additionally, Pino’s satisfaction at Leyers’s compliment demonstrates the moral complexity of his situation. Although Pino knows Leyers is evil, he cannot help but like him and want his approval on some level.
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Pino drives General Leyers back to Milan and Leyers gives him a few hours of free time. Pino uses it to see Carletto. He starts to tell Carletto about his day, though he leaves out the fact that he is a Nazi spy. Outside Carletto’s home, Pino and Carletto watch as a biker tosses a bag into a Nazi vehicle. Immediately, it explodes, injuring Mr. Beltramini who is standing nearby. Pino and Carletto rush to Mr. Beltramini’s side. On the way, Pino puts his Nazi armband back on so that he can get through the German troops who have rushed the scene. Mr. Beltramini sees the armband, causing him, along with Carletto, to think Pino is a traitor. Before Pino can explain himself, Mr. Beltramini dies and Carletto refuses to talk to him anymore.
Even though Pino and Carletto would likely sympathize with the biker, who is presumably a partisan, his actions lead to the death of Mr. Beltramini, an innocent man. To make matters worse, Carletto cannot know that Pino is working as a spy, meaning he now sees his friend as evil, even if that is not the case. It is implied that Carletto partially blames Pino for his father’s death and Pino can do nothing to convince him otherwise, at least for the time being.
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Pino returns to General Leyers’s apartment and describes what he’s seen. Soon after, Leyers dismisses him, and he returns to Albert and Greta’s shop. He explains to them what happened. Albert and Greta are sad about Mr. Beltramini but tell Pino that he cannot reveal to Carletto that he is a spy. Additionally, they are excited that he’s collected so much information over the course of a single day. Albert promises Pino that the information he’s collecting is invaluable.
Despite the horrors he witnesses, Pino manages to gather a lot of intel in a single day, all of which is vital information. However, this means that Pino must continue to act like he is a part of the Nazi regime, a role which many Milanese people find disgusting.  
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