Beneath a Scarlet Sky


Mark Sullivan

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The Power of Music Theme Analysis

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.
The Power of Music Theme Icon

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 the city is being bombed. Additionally, Carletto is especially upset because his mother is terminally ill. However, when Pino and Carletto hear “Nessun Dorma,” they momentarily connect with a deeper reality that touches them on a spiritual level. For the duration of the song, wars and terminal illnesses are forgotten and replaced by the beauty of the music. Later, after helping a violinist escape to Switzerland, Pino asks her if she will play “Nessun Dorma” as he returns to Italy. She does so, and the song lifts his spirits; it gives him the power to continue his long and difficult journey. Then, toward the end of the novel, the Allied forces begin retaking Milan. To celebrate, they ask Pino to round up some musicians and throw a party. Pino does so, and once again, the music results in great happiness, both for the musicians and their audience. Despite all of the hardships the American soldiers and Milanese citizens have faced, they are able to lose themselves in song and dance without being crushed by the weight of the war. In fact, to get to the Hotel Diana—where the party is held—the attendants have to walk through streets filled with bodies. Even after witnessing such horrors, the music prevails and the partygoers enjoy themselves. Here and elsewhere in the novel, then, music is depicted as a transcendent medium that is larger and more powerful than even a conflict as great as World War II. It is not merely an escape from hardship, it is a life-giving and unifying force that brings people together after so much death, destruction, and division.

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The Power of Music Quotes in Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Below you will find the important quotes in Beneath a Scarlet Sky related to the theme of The Power of Music.
Chapter 11 Quotes

They lost sight of Mrs. Napolitano and the others almost immediately, but they could hear her playing beautifully, with passion, each note carrying through the thin, crisp, alpine air. They reached the tree line and put on their skis as she took the tempo up again, casting forth the melody of the triumphant aria like some radio wave that hit Pino in his heart and vibrated in his soul.

Page Number: 140-141
Explanation and Analysis: