Theme of Cruelty- I'M Not Scared

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Theme of Cruelty

Throughout the novel, I’m Not Scared the hero, Michele, realises that the adult world is not as innocent and caring as he originally thought. Niccolo Ammaniti’s novel takes the reader on a journey through an innocent and too trusting world seen through the eyes of a nine year old boy, Michele. It is set in Southern Italy in the hot summer of 1978. Michele finds a dirty, incoherent boy, Fillipo, chained in a hole hidden outside his village, but is too scared to speak of it. He begins to connect the boy, his own impecunious parents, and an unexplained visitor, with a headline kidnapping that has the whole country on edge. Michele discovers that people around him, particularly his father, are capable of cruel actions.

Ammaniti portrays the theme of cruelty as a central theme for the novel from the beginning. At the beginning of the novel Michele seems to view his father, Pino, as a god-like figure who can do no wrong but this is later proven wrong as the novel progresses. When we first meet Michele’s father he seems affectionate and fun. He shows his fun fathering side when he teaches Maria and Michele how to play “soldier’s draw” to settle a squabble between them. Through his little gestures of kindness he does not seem like a wicked man. However, when Michele is late he is furious and shouts at him to “get out”. He uses crude words towards Michele “…what have you been rolling in..You smell like shit…” His anger is the first sign of his potential to be evil because we begin to see he isn’t the nice person he portrays. The shortness of the sentences strengthen his words and shows his anger.

Throughout the novel, Ammaniti portrays the character of Michele as a weak, naïve child and is easily led. The cruelty of the children is shown by the bullies’ desire to force a girl to expose herself, Michele does not stand up to them despite having no interest in taking part. He “plays the hero” by volunteering to take her place, showing he is willing...
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