The Author• Award winning aother• Lives in Melbourne• Grew up with a strong Italian heritage• Much of his writing focuses on relationships, growing up, the importance of belonging, and the generation gap.• "Archimede Fusillo, the son of Italian migrants, was born and grew up in Melbourne. Surrounded by wonderful storytellers, he learnt early on the value of stories in shaping our lives and connecting people, irrespective of backgrounds." Penguin Books website
Context• It is important to understand the context of the novel if we are to fully understand the message of the author conveyed to us by the author.• Understanding Context comes from understanding the setting of the text – this includes both place and time.• It also helps to do some research into other places and people mentioned throughout the text so we can make connections with the intended meaning.
Key elements of Novel study• Setting• Plot• Character• Themes and issues• Style and language• Symbolism
Setting• The time – around 2000• Place: Brunswick Melbourne – a suburb that was originally largely populated by Italian immigrant families in Australias post war immigration schemes.• Other place of importance is Monte Dereno – a small Italian village where Nonno grew up.• Nonno also speaks of Mussolini – it is important to understand who he was to understand what Nonno has to say about him.
Places• Brunswick is located very near Melbourne city• Monte Sereno is not coming up on a google map – why might this be?
Moussolini• Benito Mussolini –• also known as ‘Il Duce’• (The Duke)• In WW1 he fought in Italian Army against Germany• 4 years later he became Prime Minister of Italy and by 1925 eliminated all opposition in govenrment leaving just one political party – his own.• This created a totalitarian Fascist state
A Fascist Totalitarian State• Form of government in which there is no opposition to the leader• The head of state is a dictator• Fascism – a word that labels extreme right wing political values – nationalism. Militarism, absolute unquestioning loyalty to the leader. 9think of a religious sect that is extreme and severly punishes those who do not obey – this is similar but it is political not religious)• Hitler was influenced by Mussolinis reforms and policies – in WW2 they were allies.• Opponents of the regime (word describes a government run by a dictator) were persecuted, imprisoned or killed.
More information• You can take some time to look more at this in order to understand why Nonno feels as he does about his own childhood.• It also explains why many Italian migrants came to Australia after this time. They have political freedoms here they did not have under Mussolini.• BBC History page• Encyclopedia.com
Plot in a Novel• Plot always involves the development of a conflict and ultimately its resolution. There are a number of conflicts in this novel and they gradually build the intensity.• Brainstorm the conflicts as a group – put them in order, then try to summarise what the overall main conflict is and when it reaches its climax in the novel.• At the completion of this activity you will have actually created a plot chart.
Language and Style• First person narrative told through the voice of the main character Paul Taranto• Makes considerable use of Dialogue• Uses contemporary references and language (people, places, events, activities, words) of interest and connection to teenagers which strengthens the idea the story is being told by a teenager.• At times phonetic spelling is used to reflect the English skills of Nonno and give us the same sense of confusion Paul feels when communicating with him. Look at p 127 for example• The author also uses Italic passages – these represent Paul’s inner thoughts and help us connect with the confusion and conflict Paul is feeling.
Genre• The novel is called ‘The Dons’. The expectation is that it will be a mobster story.• Investigate the use of the phrase The Don and what it means. Discuss how the title does in fact fit with the story.• This novel belongs in what genre of books, since it is not a Mobster story?
Characters• Paul Taranto• Nonno• Teresa• Zia Rita• Tracey Reynolds• Which of the following character traits can be applied to each of the characters? Find examples or quotes to support your responses. What parts of the plot demonstrate these?• Adventurous, humorous, attractive, compassionate, misunderstood, conceited, loving, frustrated, insensitive, friendly, fake, sensitive, confused, lonely, ignorant, divided,
Example Character Trait• Paul is frustrated – he wishes he could be a ‘normal teenager’.• Paul would prefer to go out chasing Tracy Reynolds than spend time with Nonno; but at the same time he feels lots of love and compassion for Tonno. He turns Tracey’s invitation to the movies down to keep Nonno happy – but he is not happy about doing this.
Themes and issues• Families and Society – Loyalty – Conflict – Generation gap – Death – Gender roles – (head of the household)• Old Age and Dementia• Growing through the teenage years