E un po’, soltanto un po’, l’acutezza degli inquirenti” (P60). Therefore, Sciascia’s novel is not a celebration of power of reason but rather a denunciation of the limits of reason. It is in this way that Sciascia uses the genre of mystery writing as an ironic device: the typical belief in rationality and intelligence and their power to change things is made a mockery of in ‘A ciascuno il suo’ – the whole intention of the novel is to communicate that nothing changes, not in a place so insular and mafia-saturated as Sicily.
Fundamentally novel is a dark portrayal of the corruption of Sicily – beyond repair, lack of justice – the title of the novel is an ironic play on this: “A ciascuno il suo” comes from the Latin “Unicuique suum”, which was originally part of Roman moral legislation – to each their own – everyone receives the punishment they deserve. Evidently in Sicilian society the opposite of this is true. This phrase “Unicuique suum” has another implication within the novel: the phrase was used to make up the death threat from the pharmacist, and was cut from the ‘Osservatore Romano’, the country’s principal catholic newspaper.
Sciascia is highlighting the corruption and involvement here of not only individuals and government in the mafia, but also the Catholic church. This idea is predominant throughout: it is especially evident in chapter 10, when the corruption and involvement of Il parroco di Sant’Anna is explicit. People are relatively relaxed about their involvement and collective guilt. Everyone is implicated through friendship, politics or family, and everyone knows the truth about the identity of the murderers: In chapter 10, when Laurana asks Il parroco di Sant’Anna who within the town could be responsible for the murders, he replies: “…
anche I bambini che devono ancora nascere possono rispondere alla domanda… ” (P81). This perversion of love, loyalty and honour is a result of the Mafia dominance – it has become more than an organisation; it is a set of assumptions and behaviours, above all the systematic concealment of murder and corruption. It has become a problem ingrained very deeply within Sicilian society and tradition: “Problema insolubile… sono troppi, troppi”. (P85).
The lack of police involvement in the murders is a manifestation of this idea – the police are helpless against a circle of people who protect and conceal each other: the fear, cynicism and lack of faith in the judicial system is a major and problematic aspect of this insoluble problem, that is so present no only in the novel but also in real Sicilian society. ‘A ciascuno il suo’, like many of Sciascia’s works including ‘Il giorno della Civetta’ and ‘Todo Modo’, is not, fundamentally, a detective story at all, as Italo Calvino writes to Sciascia: “… Il tuo giallo che non i??
un giallo… “. Rather Sciascia uses the genre as a device to express his fascination with the rotten Sicilian society in which he grew up and his feelings and his criticism of a place so throbbing with corruption, vendettas and mafia honour codes. He uses a particularly powerful image to convey this idea in the novel, and to contrast Sicily with the more civilised society in the North of Italy: “Proverbio, regola: il morto i?? morto, diamo aiuto al vivo.
Se lei dice questo proverbio a uno del Nord, gli fa immaginare la scena di un incidente in cui c’i?? un morto e c’i?? un ferito: ed i??ragionevole lasciare li il morto e preoccuparsi di salvare il ferito. Un Siciliano vede invece il morto ammazzato e l’assassino: e il vivo da aiutare i?? appunto l’assassino. ” (P71) The theme of exposure and concealment of a typical detective story is what renders this prototype so well suited to Sciascia’s analysis of the socio-political climate which surrounds him. The impression the reader gains from this novel is a negative one: Sicily is stuck in a rut, and this is a motif throughout Sciascia’s works: nothing changes, the same injustice remains: “Tanto, non cambia niente” (P95).