Accidental Death of an Anarchist

Accidental Death of an Anarchist Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

the Maniac's false leg

Much of the Maniac's disguise as Captain Mark Weeny has symbolic value. The fake eye, hand, and leg all symbolize the lies told by the Maniac and embraced by the policemen. Bertozzo tries to undo the false leg and thereby expose the Maniac for who he really is, yet we learn that doing so is not enough: there are many layers of falsehoods in both his disguise and what he has been saying, and merely undoing one has little effect. 

the Maniac's false eye

The Maniac's false eye may symbolize the idea that people are willing to "see" whatever they want to if it suits their purpose. The eye pops out when the Inspector slaps the Maniac on the back, suggesting that such lies are bound to become dislodged. A similar thing happens with the Maniac's false hand, which comes off when the Inspector and the Superintendent, both of whom embrace the lies, shake it. The Inspector later trips on the glass eye and falls over - a moment of slapstick humor that also suggests that his lies will hurt him in the end. 

the open window

The window is a prominent part of the set, and the characters draw attention to it many times. The Maniac threatens to jump from the window if Bertozzo doesn't allow him to stay in the office, and he encourages the Superintendent and the Inspector to jump when they believe their culpability has been proven. On one level, the window is simply a reminder of what happened to the anarchist. On another, however, it may be a symbol of desperation. For instance, the Superintendent asks to close the window right after the Maniac points out the unbelievability of the stories they have been telling, perhaps sensing the trouble he is in.

the bomb

The bomb that Bertozzo brings to the office may symbolize the truth that the Maniac is trying to expose; if detonated, it could destroy the careers of the Inspector and the Superintendent just as the physical bomb could destroy their lives. The Maniac explains that the bomb is so complicated that it would be easy to hide a second timing device with a delayed action inside the first. So, too, is the truth complicated, hidden by layers upon layers of lies. 

the tape recorder

The Journalist asks to use a tape recorder when she begins her inquisition. The Inspector hesitates, fearing that what they say could incriminate them, but the Maniac advises him to never say no. Later, the Maniac himself whips out a tape recorder, which has recorded the entire event. The Superintendent argues that the Maniac twisted everything they said and made them sound ridiculous, but the Maniac responds that it doesn't matter - it will still cause a scandal. The recorder may thus symbolize an incontrovertible truth, for the men cannot deny what has clearly been said.