This Place Has Gone To The Dogs! Appearance And Reality In "To Each His Own" By Leonard Sciascia

1553 words - 7 pages

In Sicily, the Mafia is such an important part of the daily life of every citizen and it is so entrenched in the social, spiritual, and political ways of life that there is an incredibly strong link between crime, personal politics and cultural identity. In T"o Each His Own", Sciascia explores the dichotomy of appearance versus reality through an extended metaphor that deals with the pharmacist’s hunting dogs. The inability of the dogs to retell the story of the killings, despite being witnesses to them, mimics the concept of omertà that infiltrates the mafia culture of the town, with the townspeople knowing the details but refusing to speak of the killings. The question of how ...view middle of the document...

Unfortunately, because “the code” is so strong, these details are only revealed as the story progresses; Sciascia does however give a foretelling glimpse of the plot with the metaphor of the hunting dogs noisely returning to town.Sciascia tells that after Manno the pharmacist and Roscio the doctor are killed, their (remaining) dogs flee and returned, “running in close ranks” to the center of the village back to the one dog left behind. “There…they redoubled their howls, no doubt communicating to their comrade…news of the tragic happening” (14). This implies that the dogs bore witness to the killings and had the knowledge of how eveything happened and who carried out the brutal act. It also appears that the dogs are trying to communicate the events with the town yet they do not understand how to communicate their knowledge and the townspeople can not understand them. This appearance is incorrect however, and the reality is the dogs may know the details of their masters’ deaths but will not reveal them to anyone outside their social circle. Instead, the dogs “see this finger” and choose to “bite it” (158). This is an example that the code of omertà is so entrenched within Sicilian society, it applies to every level, even that of the dogs.Sciascia states “that even had they had the gift of speech, the dogs would have become so many mutes both with regard to the identity of the murderers and in testifying before the marshal of the carabinieri” (14). The barking is meant to be foreign to the people and known only among the dogs; the townspeople would never speak of murders and mafia-related dealings with the police and discussed events only with each other, as a form of gossip. This parallels the notion that peasants who witnessed horrific Mafia-related crimes often replied to police questions with responses similar to “I didn’t hear anything,” or “I was working all day and never saw another person.” This is because a significant portion of omertà is not just about refusing to report crimes but rather denial when asked questions concerning illegal or mischievous activities. We see this piece of the code when the police marshal “stood in the square trying to persuade the animals, with tidbits of tripe, exhortations, and haranguings, to lead him to the spot where they had left their masters. But the dogs cared not a bit” (15). This gives human qualities to the dogs, as the marshall was trying to communicate with them, yet the communication attempt is one-sided and kept up only by the marshal. In this way, peasants and townspeople are the dogs of daily Sicilian society, speaking in tongues and ways that the carabinieri and police cannot understand.Like the police and carabinieri, Laurana takes it upon himself to find out why the two men were killed. He questions everyone he believes may have information concerning the two deaths,...

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