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By Emma Roache (VCE Graduate 2006)
“I must pluck up the courage and look”. Although Michele experiences fear, he never lets his fear override his moral convictions. Discuss.
In Southern Italy in 1978, Niccolo Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared depicts a sense of Michele’s ethical struggles and steady move towards good in the face of evil. Through experiences, some people’s values through the book are disintegrated through fear, whereas others, such as Michele’s rose above it, because of his concern for others and loyalty. Michele manages to do a whole lot better in ethical terms than the adults, who, blinded by the hope of material gain, behave criminally. His choices, with exception of the ‘Judas’ secret, are the right ones. His compassion and natural sense of what is right and wrong are sure guides, despite his age, naivety and fears. Michele draws upon a naïve but heroic sense of right and wrong as he accepts responsibilities. His humanity overwhelms his fears.
Fear is one of the most incapacitating and destructive emotions as I’m Not Scared demonstrates. The experience of fear and the ways in which fear can influence the characters actions are at the centre our minds. To say ‘I’m Not scared’ is to deny being afraid, but most of the novels central characters do experience fear. Traditions, circumstances and events govern the lives of both children and adults and create fears. Firstly his fear circulates around peer group isolation and anxiety. He fears losing and having to do the forfeit, but his realization that there was ‘something dirty….something nasty’ that he did not want his sister Maria to see, in Skull’s treatment of Barbara, makes him accept the forfeit in her place. Michele’s protection of his sister, though reluctant, is a moral duty he does not shrink, and is the first sign of his innate goodness. Skull’s abuse of power makes all the children live in fear. But it is how Michele’s is overridden by the morally correct thing to do in this situation even though he feared of not wanting to the forfeit. Michele has imaginary fears of ‘witches meeting at night in abandoned houses’ and ‘an ogre’ that will ‘eat him bit by bit’. Derived from religious stories, comic’s television shows and his vivid imagination, monsters filled his dreams. He tried to foil them by imagining luring them into a golden bus to take then ‘all to the circuses. He imagines that then his stomach opens and they ‘all walked happily into it’.
Unfortunately, as he learns more about Filippo Carducci, the kidnapped son of the Lombard business man, Michele’s nightmares shift to reality of his own living world. Michele’s discovery of the boy in hole and what to do is the most serve test of his moral character. The principle questions are; will Michele do anything to help the boy? Or just pretend he never found him? Even when Michele knows he is right to be afraid, he is compelled to act by his sense of moral obligation. He knows he ‘must go’ to see Filippo after he hears Filippo’s mother’s declaration of love on the television, even though he ‘was scared’. His loss of innocence and world of betrayal are distressing and difficult lessons for him. “Papa was the bogeyman. By day he was good but at night he was bad.” After Michele has promised on his father head that he would not go visit Filippo again, he was torn by the fact that he had also promised Filippo that he will visit him. He calls upon enormous reserves of both physical and moral courage to break his oath sworn on his father’s head, disobey his own father’s edicts, confront his own fears and overcome injuries to free Filippo.
This essay has been provided by Emma Roache who gave approval for this work to be made publicly available on this website. Please respect the author's copyright.
Emma Roache was a VCE student at Hawkesdale P-12 College in 2006. She is currently studying Commerce at Deakin University. She received an enter score of 84.9 (English-42, Further Maths- 38, Accounting- 34, Biology-32, Environmental Science-34)
Posted on 03/12/2008 at 12:00:00 AM