Beneath a Scarlet Sky


Mark Sullivan

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

The morning of August 8th, 1944, Pino wakes up early and makes his way to General Leyers’s place. While there, he sees Anna, which cheers him up, and hears warnings on the radio about what will happen to the Italian resistance if they continue to bomb Germans. After breakfast, Leyers asks Pino to take him to the chancellery. Leyers brings Pino inside to translate. Pino tries to hide himself from Cardinal Schuster but is unsuccessful. Leyers tells the cardinal that, in light of the bombing, Colonel Rauff plans to execute Italian men until the bomber is brought to justice. Schuster tells Leyers that such a policy will only make matters worse, and Leyers agrees, but cannot do anything about it. Before Leyers and Pino leave, Pino tells the cardinal that the situation is not what it looks like and he asks him to conceal his identity to Leyers.
Anna is Pino’s light in the darkness as he tries to navigate his new role as Leyers’s driver. Although he knows his work is valuable, he is ashamed of his role, as is evidenced by how he behaves around Cardinal Schuster. Additionally, in this section Rauff lives up to his barbarous reputation by threatening public executions. Meanwhile, Leyers appears more measured and does not wish for any bloodshed. That said, Leyers seems more concerned that the executions are a strategic misstep than he is with the fact that they are morally abhorrent. 
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Leyers and Pino return to Leyers’s home and the general asks Pino to wait in the car because he might need him later. Pino does as he is told but is not happy about it. He had hoped to see Anna, and he is starving. A few hours later, the vehicle’s door opens and Anna hops in with a basket of food sent by Dolly. Pino eats ravenously and thanks Anna for the kindness. He asks her to stay longer, but she tells him she has to get back to Dolly.
Again, Anna proves to be a bright spot in Pino’s day. Dolly, too, is a kind figure of sorts, even though she is associated with Leyers. Because Pino and Anna are both the servants of others, their time is not their own and, for now, their relationship cannot progress.
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Early the next morning, Pino is woken up by Leyers tapping on the window. Leyers tells Pino to drive him to San Vittore Prison and Pino does as he is told. At the prison, Pino watches as Leyers makes 150 prisoners count off by tens. Then, he asks every tenth person to step forward, one of whom is Tullio. Pino knows he shouldn’t let Leyers figure out that he knows Tullio, but he worries about what will happen to him. After returning to the car, Leyers asks Pino to follow a lorry containing the fifteen prisoners.
Here, Pino’s status as a spy is put to the test. Although he’s yet to deduce what is going to happen to Tullio, he suspects it won’t be good. However, if he says anything, he could be forfeiting his own life and his valuable position as a spy.
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After driving for a while, Leyers asks Pino to stop at a piazza where they can get gas. After the gas tank fills up, Leyers and Pino watch from afar as the prisoners exit the lorry. A large crowd forms around them and a Nazi officer informs the crowd that this is what will happen anytime a Nazi soldier is killed by a partisan. Tullio begins yelling at the Nazi commander, only to be mowed down by machine gun fire along with the rest of the prisoners. 
Here, it is apparent that Leyers lost the battle with Rauff regarding the execution of prisoners. Even though he was opposed to Rauff, Leyers helped carry out the order, leaving him in a morally dubious position. Evidently, these executions are carried out as a warning, but their brutality is sure to come with unintended consequences for the Nazis.
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