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I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti

            Throughout the ages, generations have been fascinated by the hero's quest. From Monty Python's iconic quest for the Holy Grail to the more prosaic Potter sagas, the idea of a person with special goodness, insight, and powers, has motivated readers to be better people. Niccolo Ammaniti, in his novel, I'm Not Scared, has borrowed this age-old pattern, or archetype, to create a character, the young boy Michele, who challenges the "monsters" of his village to heroically rescue another young boy from certain death. In spite of the fact that his character, Michele, does not possess any superhuman powers, and does not conform to fantasy or comic book types, he nevertheless, journeys through each of the "stations" that a classic hero passes on his way to his "arete." Therefore, Michele "becomes" the classic hero that has fascinated, and continues to fascinate, generations of readers. .
             Like all classic heroes from literature, Michele starts his life off poor and without much guidance from parents. His father is often "away for weeks at a time" (28), and his mother allows Michele to wander the countryside (2) as long as he took care of his younger sister. Acqua Traverse, where he lives when the story happens, is so small as to be "non-existant" (28) and a place "forgotten by God" (28). In other words, Michele's poor start, his humble surroundings, and his autonomy, put the reader in mind of other heroes who had the same humble start. Albeit that his provenance is modest, he has, nevertheless, a noble character. Right from the beginning when he stops for his sister (4) to where he takes on Barbara's forfeit (18), Michele makes choices that show that he has a strong "moral compass." In the first case he has an obligation of course, but like any other young boy he could have abandoned his sister in order not to have lost the race, but he does not.

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