After the introduction of the Valera’s Italian villa it becomes strikingly clear the immense wealth the Sandro hails from. Notions of wealth were certainly introduced earlier – however, the scope of Sandro’s fortune was relatively unfelt by the reader until Reno visits the family home.
Despite this wealth, however, of money, Reno notes a cheapness in the presentation of the place, both physically and emotionally. The interactions within the walls are cold and unfeeling, and Reno discusses a “particular cheapness of the very rich,” in regards to the actual physical coldness within the home. But this statement is much more powerful than just referencing the temperature of the place.
In stark contrast to this is Reno’s relationship with the poor in Italy. She is taken in by men and women she does not know. She is giving a place to sleep and a group to exist within – a far cry to how she was treated by the Valera’s
So, what does this say about the rich and poor? As a historical novel commenting on revolution, it appears Kushner aims to present, at least slightly, the wealthy in the wrong. Intelligently, though, and rather than creating “evil” rich and “good” poor, she places both in a less black/white situation. It is still certainly obvious, though, that the wealthy exude coldness and lack of understanding, while the poor are willing to offer help and warmth.