At the beginning of the story the narrator talks about the geography where the story sets and where you should hide if you killed a man and how to take the necessary precautions to survive. For the narrator to know these things, he must have known someone who had gone threw that experience or he himself was part of it. Murder was nothing new at that time because of the French Revolution taking place at that time.
Things were getting worse due to the tyranny, oppression, corruption in the government, bankruptcy, lack of civil rights and extreme taxation.Living in these circumstances, Mateo Falcone developed several skills that were vital for his survival and that of his family and those around him. He was a great marksman, respected man among the people and feared because of his reputation. Mateo was a great friend and a dangerous enemy, with a strong sense of justice.
Mateo Falcone’s son, Fortunato, is also a big part of this story. Fortunato was an intelligent young man raised in the noble’s principles that were loyalty, honor, protection of the lower class and to never betray your people.One day Gianneto Sanpiero, an outlaw that was being followed by Corsican voltigeurs, came up to Mateo’s Falcone house where Fortunato was alone. Gianneto Sanpiero asked Fortunato to hide him so the Corsican voltigeurs would not find him.
Fortunato asked him if he had something that he would get in return for hiding him. Gianneto gave him a silver coin in exchange for his safety. After Fortunato hid Gianneto, six men in brown uniforms with yellow colors led by a high-ranking officer arrived at Mateo’s door.The high ranking officer, named Gamba, was a distant relative of Mateo Falcone.
Gamba was a cunning man that would do anything to get what he wanted, even if it meant bribing someone. Gamba tried to bribe Fortunato into telling him where Gianneto was. Fortunato, despite the way he was raised and the principles he was taught, fell into Gamba’s deceit. Fortunato knew the consequences of what he had done, though his innocence as a child and giving in to Gambas bribes led him to betray Gianneto.
After Gamba had retrieved Gianneto, he met up with Mateo Falcone who had just returned from hunting with his wife. Gamba then told Mateo Falcone of what his son had done and that they had caught the outlaw. Mateo Falcone, being the strict man that he was and having a strong sense of justice and duty to protect the ones in need, headed home to protect, not only to protect his reputation, but also the cause of the revolution.Upon entering his home, Mateo took his son down to the maquis so he would enforce justice.
Mateo stood away from his son, told him to pray, and without a flinch shot and killed his son. Mateo then went back to his house to look for a shovel with which to bury his dead son. On the way, he met up with his wife who asked him what he had done.”Justice” he replied in a very cold-hearted voice.
Even though Fortunato was his only son, Mateo’s beliefs were stronger than the love he had for his son.