Archibald Joseph Cronin in his story ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ shows love, devotion, sacrifice and sincerity of the two little boys who face hardships. The two gentlemen of Verona are two brothers, Nicola and Jacopo, aged 13 and 12. They did all sorts of odd jobs. They shined shoes, sold fruits, hawked newspapers, conducted tourists rounds the town and ran errands for money. At a very young age itself the boys faced a lot of hardships in their life. They lost their father and their house in a war and become homeless. They suffered starvation and cold winter. They lived in the shelter of broken building walls and bricks. Read More 1st PUC English Summaries.
Two Gentlemen of Verona Summary
Two Gentlemen of Verona Summary in English
‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ by A.J. Cronin is about the selfless life of two brothers – thirteen-year-old Nicola and twelve-year-old Jacopo. The speaker, who is with his companion, comes across them selling strawberries on the outskirts of Verona. Luigi, the driver, cautions them not to buy the fruit from the shabby boys as better fruit would be available in Verona. However, the narrator and his companion feel strangely attracted towards the boys, who, despite their brown skin and tangled hair, have earnest eyes.
Next morning, the narrator and his companion find the boys at the public square shining shoes. The narrator comes to know that the boys undertake many tasks, including showing the visitors through the town, to Juliet’s tomb and other places of interest. The narrator too takes this service from the boys and is again attracted by their dignified demeanour. He feels that they have seriousness which far exceeds their age. In the week that follows, the boys prove to be of great use to the narrator. They get for him American cigarettes, seats for the opera and information about restaurants that served good pasta.
The narrator realises that they work very hard, accepting any and every task, including selling newspaper, conducting tourists around the town, and doing other odd jobs for them. The narrator finds them remaining awake till midnight so as to sell the last bundle of the newspaper when the last bus from Padua came there. When the narrator tries to find out w.hy they work so hard, Nicola remains aloof. But, the next day the narrator asks him again as to why they work so hard, eating only black bread and figs. He wants to know whether they are saving money to emigrate to America. Nicola only says that they have other plans, but does not reveal what those plans are.
When the narrator wants to know whether he can do anything for the boys before he left the place, Jacopo asks for a drive to Poleta, the countryside which was 30 kilometres from Verona, adding that every Sunday they went by hired bicycles. The narrator offers to drive them down himself as he had already given his driver off. Nicola, however, is annoyed that his brother has taken the help of the narrator. On reaching Poleta, the boys go to a large red-roofed villa, telling the narrator that they wouldn’t take more than an hour to return. After the lapse of a few minutes, the narrator goes to the villa only to realise that it’s a hospital.
A trained nurse there takes him to a cubicle and through a glass partition, the narrator sees the boys in conversation with a twenty-year-old girl, their sister by the name Lucia. The narrator doesn’t want to intrude upon the privacy of the boys with their sister and hence goes away without speaking to them. From the nurse, he comes to know that the boys had lost their father, a widower and a well-known singer, in the early part of the war and soon after that a bomb had destroyed their home.
They had lived in a shelter that they had built with their own hands from the rubble and were exposed to many difficulties including cold weather. They had hated the German Elite Guard that ruled over Verona for three years and had worked as secret agents against the Germans, in support of the resistance movement. Their small size, young age and knowledge of the surroundings helped them in their dangerous work of carrying letters in their shoes, about the movements of the German troops.
When the war was over, they returned to their sister, an aspiring singer, only to find out that she was suffering from the tuberculosis of the spine. But, they didn’t give up. They kept her in an expensive hospital and for twelve months went back to the hospital every week to make the payment. She had shown good progress and the nurse adds that she might, one day, be fully cured, and start singing again. The narrator is deeply touched by the nobility of the boys and marvels at their invincible spirit. Thus we see that the two little boys are the two gentlemen of Verona.
Though the boys suffered a lot, war did not break their spirit. They were determined to work hard and earned their living. They were so selfless. Eventually, they were the real two gentlemen of Verona.