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Plot - The American

Updated: 6 hours ago

An illustrated scene from 1920s New York, set in Little Italy, featuring two young boys, Giuseppe Esposito and Franco Caruso, playing in a lively street surrounded by adults engaged in daily activities. The setting includes old brick buildings, some adorned with Italian flags, encapsulating the community spirit and the immigrant experience of the time.

Drama; historical | New York, 1920

Main characters

In the early 1900s thousands of Italian families reach New York and settle in a neighborhood that will be named Little Italy. Among them are the Esposito and Caruso families. Both have two young firstborn boys growing up on the streets of the neighborhood-Giuseppe Esposito and Franco Caruso.

Both boys, at the age of twelve, begin working, but they become like brothers and while growing up amid the many difficulties of the time, they are happy and free as only boys can be. The Caruso and Esposito families know and respect each other. Both heads of families work hard (one is a baker and the other a mason) and often their wives go into service as well. Life is very hard but one manages to survive and the presence of fellow countrymen makes things easier.

The call to adventure

When by now families have settled in and life goes on despite the difficulties, one day in October a disaster strikes the world: stock markets collapse and the Great Depression begins. The crisis hits everyone and suddenly there is no more work, no money, no food. Joseph and Franco are now two young men and find themselves caught up in something bigger than themselves.

The conflict

Desperation calls for more desperation: Giuseppe's father and Franco's father get into trouble over a fight that took place in front of a construction site where a job was being offered. The families are in danger of falling apart under the weight of the Great Crisis. The two friends' paths diverge: Giuseppe joins a small gang of neighborhood thugs, while Franco goes to help a carpenter who does boat repairs.

The key

The lives of the two will intersect again 20 years later, in Italy during World War II. Franco is the captain in command of a company landing in Sicily and Giuseppe is a sergeant assigned to him. The ascent up the Peninsula, the clashes, and the difficult situations they face force the two friends to face many trials. Often, the officer and his subordinate disagree on choices, but in the face of men they always stand united.

They also rediscover their grandparents' homes, known only as children, and find distant relatives. During a conflict with the Germans Joseph is seriously wounded, but Franco does what he can to save himself. In Rome the two's paths divide again. Twenty years later Franco returns to Italy with his wife: he has a letter sent to him by Giuseppe inviting him to Trastevere, to his trattoria “The American”

Plot alternatives

Family epics fascinate the reader because of their intricate plots that unravel the stories of several generations. The American is a plot that can be placed in other places and other eras without great difficulty. It can become the story of two friends before a revolution, or of two cousins before a catastrophic event that separates them. Just play with your imagination, separate the fates of the two characters and bring them to the antipodes before they are reunited.


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