«Il venditore di arance / the oranges seller » — Conversation with a Sicilian, Vittorini 1938


The depiction of the orange in narrative stories as a metaphor for protagonists and characters from previous epochs became ever more present, in that it was used to describe the distinctive characteristics of a person with an apparently tough outer skin (like the peel), but soft and sweet soul (like the inner fruit).  In the 30’s Vittorini wrote his famous, “Il Venditore Di Arance”, (the orange vendor) which told of the tragic Sicilian and his young wife who are forced to eat unwanted oranges to the point that he no longer holds the physical fruit in his hand but his own despair, a distinctive trait of his own misery and diversity.  Vittorini writes, “I watched the little Sicilian man from his wife, a child, desperately peeling the orange and desperately eating it with anger and frenzy, without any desire, and without chewing, swallowing and cursing, fingers wet with orange juice in the cold.  And he, the little Sicilian, remained silent in hope, then he looked at his feet and at his wife who was sitting motionless, dark, closed off,  on the sack, and he became desperate and desperately bent down and pulled a string from the basket, he took out an orange and he desperately offered it, still bent down, to his wife, and after a silent refusal from her he was desperately depressed with the orange in hand and he began to peel it for himself, to eat it, swallowing as though he were swallowing a curse”.