Fear is one of the most incapacitating and destructive emotions I’m Not Scared demonstrates. As well as the human potential to do evil things in life for self-gain. Ammaniti shows us this through characters in the text that commit cruel and violent acts. He also shows us that not all men can be cruel and selfish, through the character of Michele, who shows bravery, compassion and goodness. From the very beginning of the novel we are alerted to the fact that humans can be very cruel, yet equally as gallant and kind. In the start we are introduced to a cruel rumour from Skull, about a fierce old man known as Melichetti, who feed his own dog to his savage pigs. When he is confronted about this from Barbara, he laughs at the idea and replies saying that he loved his dog and would never do such a thing, and is astonished as to why someone would make up such lies about him. Barbara says that Skull had told them this and Melichetti scolds him saying that he should never tell lies, and the truth only.
Thus showing that there is good in some humans. Although not all of them. After these events Skull hatches a plan to get back at Barbara for embarrassing him. He proposes that they have a race to the top of a hill, knowing that Barbara will lose and have to do the forfeit so he can extract his revenge, being the harsh human that he is. Human’s immense capacity for cruelty is highlighted by the appalling conditions that Filippo is kept in. He chained in a dark prison hole and is barely fed enough to stay alive. He is treated like a prisoner of war. His skin is pale and dirty, and so thin that you could see the outline of his bones. Yet Ammaniti tempers these descriptions with humour in order to soften the blow and Michele relieves his suffering. Michele’s determination to help Fillipo in his plight and his success in revealing his pain that becomes the focus of the tale. He performs acts of kindness towards Fillipo, bringing him food and water, and letting him out of the hole to embrace the outside world.
There is no doubt that humans are capable of extreme violence as demonstrates by the response to Luisa Carducci’s appeal and through characters such as Sergio, Skull and Felice, yet we also get the sense that they are not so much evil, but human through Ammaniti’s portrayal of them. Some of these acts of violence or portrayed through the actions of Skull and his potential for cruelty to others and animals. An example of this is when he says “wring its neck, then put a stick up its arse”, also when the entire town of Acqua Traverse is silent watching Michele, except for Togo who is barking. Skull then proceeds to boot Togo away. Yet although Skull is ruthless and cruel, the kids have the power to overcome him. For instance when Skull makes Barbara do the forfeit, the kids do not like this idea and Michele stands up and takes the forfeit. They are also strongly motivated by self-gain and are also capable of horrible betrayal in order to gain something for themselves.
The people of Acqua Traverse are easily motivated by money. They had kidnapped a child just for personal gain. They were prepared to betray their own beliefs and morals. For example when Luisa Carducci had sent an appeal to the kidnappers, she pleaded that they do not hurt her son and asked them what it would feel like if any of them had their own child taken away from them. Papa, who cared for his children a lot and loved them, betrayed his own beliefs that night, responding that they should cut off both of Filippo’s ears. Yet they are also capable of fierce love, extreme loyalty and forgiveness. An instance of this is Teresa’s protectiveness over Michele after Felice’s attack on him. Upon finding out that Felice had hurt her son, she launched herself at him in a raging fit of fury to protect her son. After seeing Felice on his mother Michele, also protective of his mother, jumps at Felice. Loyalty is also portrayed in the story through some characters.
One of which is Michele, who made a promise to Filippo that he would always come back and save him. And he did under any circumstances, no matter how bad the consequences may have been. Also, it is Papa, who at first was with the idea of keeping Filippo hostage, yet later he proposed the idea to let the boy go. Ammaniti creates a world that emphasises people’s capacity for evil and self-gain and uses his power to tell us how he became a man that learns loyalty and trust are far more valuable than money or objects through events and experiences he comes into contact with. His knowledge and understanding form the base of his moral decisions and guide him to help the innocent boy, Filippo, escape from the villainous adults of Acqua Traverse.