Beneath a Scarlet Sky


Mark Sullivan

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Themes and Colors
War and Morality Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Music Theme Icon
Love and Death Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Beneath a Scarlet Sky, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

War and Morality

Beneath a Scarlet Sky takes place in Nazi-occupied Italy during World War II, showing a side of the conflict that is rarely seen in literature. During the war, Italy allied itself with the Axis powers (Germany and Japan) while under the rule of Benito Mussolini, a fascist dictator. However, Beneath a Scarlet Sky largely ignores the overarching scope of the conflict to instead focus on individuals. This shift in focus alters the moral landscape…

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Coming of Age

Despite its focus on World War II, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is also a coming-of-age story that explores the maturation of a young man living in Nazi-occupied Italy. Pino Lella, the young man in question, starts the novel as an unremarkable youth, more focused on typical teenage concerns such as music and women than he is with war. However, soon his hometown of Milan is bombed by the Allied Powers and taken over by…

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The Power of Music

Music shows up throughout Beneath a Scarlet Sky and proves to be a powerful force for Pino and his friends. At the start of the novel, Pino expresses his love for jazz music and classical music. He also listens to his father and friends play “Nessun Dorma” (“None Shall Sleep”), a famous aria from Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot. This scene takes place after the Lella and Beltramini families have fled Milan because…

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Love and Death

Pino Lella starts Beneath a Scarlet Sky as an immature youth who does not know what romantic love means. He claims to fall in love with every girl he meets, though really, he is simply struck by their beauty. However, all that changes when he meets Anna Marta, a beautiful young Italian woman whom Pino truly falls in love with. At first, Pino’s love for Anna begins like all the others—she is beautiful, and…

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