Beneath a Scarlet Sky


Mark Sullivan

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Gray Men Symbol Icon

Gray men are a symbol of the dehumanization many people suffered under the Nazi war machine. Pino first spots the gray men while leaving Milan for Casa Alpina. He describes them as “hordes of vacant-eyed men, many in shabby gray uniforms.” The empty stares and the drab coloring of their clothes demonstrates the degree to which these men have been abused. It is as though the life has been sucked right out of them. Throughout the novel, Pino continues to run into the gray men, and each time it seems as though they are being treated worse and worse by the Nazis. The only person in a Nazi uniform who shows the gray men any kindness is Pino, who offers them water. While doing so, Pino talks to one of the gray men named Antonio. Antonio tells Pino that he, along with the rest of the gray men, are slaves who must bend to the will of the Nazis or suffer the consequences. Later in the book, Pino sees a gray man he thinks may be Antonio get knocked off a cliff by a Nazi soldier simply for taking a break. Pino’s inability to recognize whether the man is Antonio, along with the Nazi’s treatment of the man in the first place, demonstrates the degree to which the Nazis have sucked every bit of individuality out of these men.

Gray Men Quotes in Beneath a Scarlet Sky

The Beneath a Scarlet Sky quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gray Men. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War and Morality Theme Icon
Chapter 4 Quotes

As the train rolled back into Milan shortly after dawn the next day, black scrolls of smoke unraveled, twisted, and curled above the city. When they left the train and went out into the streets, Pino saw the physical differences between those who had fled the city and those who had endured the onslaught. Explosive terror had bowed the survivors’ shoulders, emptied their eyes, and broken the set of their jaws. Men, women, and children shuffled timidly about, as if at any second the very ground they trod might rupture and give way into some unfathomable and fiery sinkhole. There was a smoky haze almost everywhere. Soot, some of it fine white and some a volcanic gray, coated almost everything. Torn and twisted cars. Ripped and crushed buildings. Trees stripped bare by the blasts.

Related Characters: Pino Lella
Related Symbols: Gray Men
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

They were all emaciated, filthy, with scraggly beards and long tangled hair. Many of them had vacant, dead eyes and wore ragged gray trousers and tops. There were letters on their chests he couldn’t make out. Manacled, they moved at no better than a shuffle until the guards tore into them, hitting a few with the butts of their rifles. As lorry after lorry emptied, there were soon three hundred of the men, maybe more, moving en masse to the stadium’s north end.

Related Characters: Pino Lella, General Leyers
Related Symbols: Gray Men
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

He glanced in the mirror at the general and realized he hated Leyers. He was a Nazi slave driver. He wants Italy destroyed, and then rebuilt in Hitler’s image. He works for Hitler’s architect, for God’s sake.

Part of Pino wanted to find a secluded spot, get out, pull his gun, and kill the man. He would head for the hills, join one of the Garibaldi partisan units. The powerful General Leyers dead and gone. That would be something, wouldn’t it? That would change the war, wouldn’t it? At some level?

Related Characters: Pino Lella, General Leyers
Related Symbols: Gray Men
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gray Men Symbol Timeline in Beneath a Scarlet Sky

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gray Men appears in Beneath a Scarlet Sky. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
War and Morality Theme Icon The train makes a brief stop at Lake Como where Pino spots hundreds of “filthy men” in “dull gray outfits.” Pino is confused by their presence and wonders who they are. He contemplates the strange... (full context)
Chapter 13
War and Morality Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...same thing about Pino. While driving through Milan, Pino spots more people he labels as gray men laboring throughout the city. He asks Albert about them, but Albert says they’ll talk about... (full context)
Chapter 15
War and Morality Theme Icon
...see what Leyers is doing. From afar, Pino watches as Leyers sorts a group of gray men . After he is finished, Leyers heads back to the car, and Pino rushes to... (full context)
War and Morality Theme Icon
The next stop of the day is a tunnel, also occupied by laboring gray men . Leyers brings Pino into the tunnel with him, and Pino sees that it is... (full context)