Man with Knife: “You’re a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses.”
Theses are the words the Man with Knife speaks before he slices Jake’s nose. These lines are a warning to Jake to stop trespassing at the reservoir, but they serve as a broader warning about looking too fervently for the truth behind appearances. Throughout the film, the audience learns that Jake’s problems stem from much more than his willingness to climb over fences. Unlike the majority of characters in the movie, Jake cannot ignore all the corruption around him. From shadowy Chinatown to the brighter areas of Los Angeles, authority figures see the public as something to manipulate and control, killing or beating into submission anyone foolish enough to investigate the larger pattern of corruption. Noah Cross murders Hollis Mulwray because Hollis attempted to unveil the corruption behind the new dam project. Ida Sessions, though initially part of the conspiracy, dies when she oversteps her bounds by talking to Jake. The police shoot Evelyn Mulwray, who led a silent yet relatively safe existence during the previous fifteen years, only after Jake intrudes on her life. Jake suffers a more subtle punishment, living with the knowledge that he not only failed to protect Evelyn but, through his nosiness, caused her death.