Beneath a Scarlet Sky


Mark Sullivan

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

After raiding the farms, Leyers walks over to a line of boxcars and Pino follows close behind. In the cars, Pino hears a woman screaming; she wants to know where she is going. Leyers tells Pino to inform the woman that she is being sent to a labor camp in Poland. As the boxcars pull away, Pino see three small fingers sticking out of a crack in one of the cars. This image stays with Pino for the rest of his life. On the way back to Dolly’s, Pino questions Leyers about the labor camp. Leyers tells Pino it is called Auschwitz. When Pino tries to get more details, Leyers yells at Pino for asking too many questions.
Pino doesn’t know the truth about the Polish labor camps, though Leyers likely does. His reaction to Pino’s questioning suggests that seeing the boxcars bothered Leyers. This is the first time where Leyers’s conscience is openly displayed, probably because he’s aware of the atrocities being committed at Auschwitz. Notably, Auschwitz is the most infamous of all the Nazi labor camps. Roughly 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz and 90% of the victims were Jewish.
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In late October, Pino once again drives Leyers to Mussolini’s villa. Again, Leyers uses Pino to translate. Mussolini asks Leyers whether there is any truth to the rumor that Hitler has a secret bunker hidden in the mountains for use after the war. Leyers says he is not sure. Mussolini tells him that if such a place exists, he would like to reserve two spots. After this conversation, Pino and Leyers depart for the city of Monza.
Mussolini may be referring to the Berghof bunker, Hitler’s headquarters for much of the war. The Berghof was located in the Bavarian Alps but was by no means a secret (at least not one that was effectively kept). Regardless, Mussolini’s attitude here reflects his delusional state of mind about the war. The Germans do not respect him at all, and even if they did, they are losing the war.
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Once near the train station at Monza, Leyers gets out of the car and orders Pino to stay put. He also leaves his briefcase in the car. Pino thinks about searching the briefcase while Leyers is gone, but instead decides it would be more useful to follow him. Pino sees Leyers with four enslaved people, whom he is using to load gold that he is shipping out of Italy. When the enslaved people leave Pino’s sightline, he hears four gunshots and assumes Leyers has killed them. Leyers tells Pino that he shot in the direction of the enslaved people but did not hit them. Pino doesn’t know if he believes Leyers. When they return to Milan, Leyers tells Pino that he has tomorrow off. Additionally, he gives Pino permission to use the car to take Anna somewhere.
Whether Leyers actually shoots the enslaved people is an unanswered question in the novel. On the one hand, he may have killed them so they wouldn’t spill his secrets. On the other hand, he may have only shot in their direction so that he could have plausible deniability when explaining to his fellow Nazis what happened to them. There is also an open question about where the gold is going. If it is being secretly shipped out of Italy, then it is presumably not for use by the Nazis. 
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The next day, Pino and Anna drive to a number of beauty spots on the outskirts of Milan. They have a wonderful time enjoying one another’s company. However, the mood darkens when Pino asks Anna to tell him about her mother. Apparently, Anna’s mother blamed her for her father’s death and believed she was cursed. She even had priests perform exorcisms on Anna. She kicked Anna out of her home, which is how Anna eventually came into Dolly’s service. Pino also shares a bit of his soul and tells Anna that he feels lonely not being able to tell his friends the truth about his position as a spy.
Again, Pino and Anna’s relationship deepens as they learn more about one another’s respective backgrounds. Although they initially wanted to act as an escape for one another, now they are bonded together by tragedy. This only makes their relationship grow stronger and their love grow deeper.
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