Last Updated on May 17, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 541
Inspector Rogas, an investigator, the protagonist. His intelligence and his culture set him apart from the other members of the police force. He is thorough and persistent in his investigation, examining each event or piece of evidence with patience. His search for the assassin, assigned to him by his superiors, extends beyond the execution of his duties; it becomes for him an intellectual and personal challenge as he realizes the cleverness of his opponent. The investigation carries him dangerously close to truths that are best left undiscovered, and he meets with strong opposition to his exposing them.
Cres, the supposed assassin. Although he plays a central role, he is glimpsed only once. He is elusive, mysterious, and virtually untraceable; in short, he is very present yet invisible. Most important, he is clever and calculating, able to predict what the police’s next move will be and to evade it. Like Rogas, he is exact and thorough in his work; if he is indeed the assassin, he leaves no trace.
Nocio, a writer. Dramatic and sarcastic, he speaks openly and readily about his troubles. He is embittered and resentful at the low regard in which his books are held by the fashionable revolutionaries. After having thought of himself as a revolutionary in his country, he believes that he is now being displaced by a young class of pseudointellectuals, who spew ideology without understanding it and without really believing it. Both in his professional life and in his own home, he has become angrily subservient for fear of being labeled a reactionary.
Galano, the editor of a revolutionary political magazine. Cold and detached, he exudes smugness and superiority toward those who are not a part of his intellectual circle. He loudly denounces capitalist wealth and the middle-class lifestyle and thought. At the same time, however, he readily and very willingly accepts all the comforts and advantages that he criticizes. Although he represents a private sector of morality, he enjoys the support of high government officials, who recognize the power and the influence of both the man and the magazine he publishes.
President Riches, the president of the Supreme Court. He is arrogant and self-assured. He firmly believes that during the time he has presided over the court, no wrongful judgment has ever been passed. Indeed, he maintains that judicial error does not exist; the individual no longer exists. One person answers for humanity, and humanity is responsible for one person.
The minister, a high government official. Pompous and formal, he is very much an opportunist. By his own admission, he uses his power to offer protection to individuals and to political groups. He recognizes the inherent weakness and corruption of his government, and, functioning on the premise that only hatred commands respect, he pursues that goal.
Cusan, a writer. Intelligent and perceptive, he is also an old and loyal friend of Rogas. He is a sympathizer of the Revolutionary Party. His support is of a predominantly ideological and certainly idealistic nature, and he is not aware of the political intricacies and intrigues that are involved. Rogas confides in him all his suspicions and his findings, thus involving him more than he would like.
Last Updated on May 17, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 341
The characters of Equal Danger are virtual abstractions. Except for Rogas, from whose point of view the story unfolds, the politicians and would-be reformers are mere parodies of corruption and ineptitude.
Inspector Rogas, whose surname derives from the Latin verb, rogare, “to ask,” is an honest philosopher-cop who seeks the truth but whose interrogations lead only to more questions. He is well read, sensitive, and sympathetic. The reader is told, in fact, that Rogas is a man of principles in a country where no one else believes in them anymore.
His principles lead him to ask questions that the Government finds embarrassing. Though he follows orders, he does so only out of a professional sense of duty. Like all good philosophers, Rogas is not far from the truth even when he seems to be sidetracked. Despite impediments, his investigations take him inevitably closer to the real assassin, Cres.
Significantly, the character around whom the plot revolves is unseen—or only briefly, in disguise. This elusiveness, a virtual invisibility, is a crucial aspect of the meaning of the plot. The other characters doubt Cres’s guilt. They are thus unable or unwilling to recognize or believe in the truth. Cres’s name literally suggests “credibility.” Though the real assassin, he is ultimately let alone, ignored, even patronized. He becomes the agent, a sort of angel of death, wreaking havoc on society.
The characters of Equal Danger are thus not flesh-and-blood human beings but representations, analogues of certain destructive attitudes toward justice. The two suspects whom Rogas interviews at the beginning of the novel, for example, depict what happens to ordinary men who come up against the injustice of the court system: They become cynical, despairing, frightened creatures who sit mindlessly in the sun.
Galano, Nocio, the ministers of state, even President Riches, are not shown as individuals but as stereotypes—the intellectuals, the bourgeoisie, the corrupt and inept government officials. Each has his views about the political structure of society, but none can act to save it without being corrupted by it.
Last Updated on May 17, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 61
Cannon, JoAnn. “The Detective Fiction of Leonardo Sciascia,” in Modern Fiction Studies. XXIX (Autumn, 1983), pp. 523-534.
Jones, Verina. “Leonardo Sciascia,” in Writers and Society in Contemporary Italy: A Collection of Essays, 1984. Edited by Michael Caesar and Peter Hainsworth.
Prescott, P.S. Review in Newsweek. LXXXII (July 16, 1973), p. 88.
Vidal, Gore. “Sciascia’s Italy,” in The Second American Revolution and Other Essays, 1976-1982, 1982.