Niccolo Ammaniti demonstrates in his popular novel, 'I'm Not Scared', the role fear plays in people’s lives and their respective decisions. He discusses how fear is able to manipulate key character's moral instincts and distort their interpretations of what is right. Fear is shown to be an extremely powerful underlying contributor to many of the situations that the characters find themselves in and the paths they chose to follow. Teresa, Pino and all the other adults of Aqua Traverse perfectly display the role fear has on people's moral instincts.
Though to begin with, the kidnapping was based on greed, towards the end of the novel it's evident that greed is no longer the desire of the crime. It's fear that now manipulates these characters actions and not only the fear of being caught, but fear of the consequences once they are discovered. Michele is able to compare these fears to the fear he has for the green lizard, who ‘... spits to try and scare you because really they are more scared of you,’. Fear eventually consumes Pino once he shoots his own son, thus loosing more than he initially sought to gain by participating in the kidnapping.
Henceforth, Pino does not come to accept that there's nothing wrong with being scared and therefore he is no longer able to differentiate between moral rights and wrongs. However, other characters in this novel prove to be motivated by another type of fear. Despite his 'tough' exterior and bullying ways, Skull -also known as Antonio Natale- is controlled by his fear of not fitting in and being accepted by others. He genuinely believes he must maintain his alpha male ways, in order to be accepted by his peers. This includes the constant bullying of Barbra and demeaning attitude towards the other children.
Unfortunately Skull is also unable to come to accept his fears, and therefore looses sense of knowing what is right. Ironically, Skull's fears lead to the fear that the other kids have of him. Michele often recalls, 'that him and the other kids simply went along with Skull once his sadistic mind got to work'. Though Michele shares these fears of Skull, he also has a certain amount of fear concerning other things. During the novel, Michele's irrational fear of monsters is ever present. Usually when he is afraid of something, he compares it to a fictional monster that makes the fear seem more real to him.
Although Michele's childish conception about the monsters is destroyed once his father tells him that 'it's men you should be afraid of, not monsters'. In compliance with the theme of loss of innocence, Pino seems to make it clear to Michele that the adults of Acqua Traverse are the materialisation of his fears, not monsters. This is as Pino seems to destroy the innocence Michele possesses when comparing his irrational fears to the real world. Nevertheless, Michele unlike the other characters of this novel is able to use his fears in a positive way, as apposed to the negative way of the other characters.
Michele is able to harness his fears and use them to motivate him to save Filippo. Michele being as brave as 'Tiger Jack" shows the strength that can come, from accepting that there's nothing wrong with being scared as long as you do what is right. Fear plays a large role in uncovering the lack of morals instilled in the residents of Acqua Traverse, due to their fear of dire poverty and need to achieve a higher standard of life. This demonstrates that being scared is a root cause for not 'knowing', even as adults, what is right.
For a majority of the characters in this novel, fear, is displayed as a negative influence. Michele however proves it to be the thing that assists him to make better decisions, therefore discovering the difference between right and wrong, whilst establishing the different influence fear has on him. Fear is consequently demonstrated as an advantage and disadvantage in the society of Aqua Traverse. The title of the novel demonstrates Michele’s need to not only manipulate himself that he is ‘Not Scared', but also convince the fear that he is ‘Not Scared’ to surpass it and the weakness of the people around him.