The Godfather and the Meaning of Family

Category: Father, Godfather
Last Updated: 10 Jan 2022
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The Godfather A family is a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, and is considered a group, whether they reside together or not; the traditional family, which usually consists of family values and beliefs. In American literature family serves as a base in our society which can be shaped and molded into many different forms. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather demonstrates family as a successful business, with strict and traditional Italian roots. The story is focuses on the Corleone family, a very close knit traditional Italian-American family, who all live on the same cul de sac and are neighbors to each other.

Their business is based on the family’s mafia operations. They live their lives in the midst of crime. Some takes the law into their own hands, by avenging a crime to protect the weak while others use it to rise into a position of wealth and power. The executive or head of the Corleone family is the decision maker or “shot caller;” he is like the “Robin Hood” of the Sicilians people. To all those who have proven their loyalties to him are entitled to help from their “Godfather. ” He is willing to help anyone who calls them his friend; because he believes that “Friendship is everything.

Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family” (Puzo 38). The executive or head of the Corleone family is Don Vito and after his death, Michael; his youngest son, who later takes the role. In a sense, both in the novel and film begin and ends with “the Godfather” and some may call him “the Don. ” Through they both have very different experiences, they are believed to be “infinitely more intelligent and less obviously corrupt than any of the other characters” developed in the story (Williams 77).

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Both are willing to accommodate their competitors, take a step back, and not get involved unless necessary, for they believe to never hate your enemies because it affects your judgment and to keep their friends close and their enemies closer However, they are considered to be the most powerful organized crime family in the United States. “Great men are not born great, they grow great, and so it was with Vito Corleone. … Vito Corleone made the final step from a quite ordinary, somewhat ruthless businessman to a great Don in the world of criminal enterprise.

It did not happen in a day, it did not happen in a year, but by the end of the Prohibition period and the start of the Great Depression, Vito Corleone had become the Godfather, the Don, Don Corleone” (Puzo 213). A family of organized crime that is sometimes portrayed as so caring and helpful, that we don’t always think of them as bad guys per say. They have respect and are behaved in a way that is very elegant. But of course there are times when they must take action upon themselves even if it is against the law.

It is a known that the main focus of a stereotypical Mafia family is centered around the use of violence. For instance, in both the novel and film, Connie Corleone; the daughter of the Don Vito gets married to an abusive and gets beaten down while pregnant, which later becomes one of the reasons for his death. Aside from that we also see many deaths cause by the vengeance and business. Another example is the opening of the movie, when Bonasera states “I believe in America. America has made my fortune. And I raised my daughter in the American fashion.

I gave her freedom, but -- I taught her never to dishonor her family” as he tells Don Vito, his grief about what had happen to his daughter (The Godfather). The family is cruel yet respectable, violent yet sophisticated and heartless, but not without rules. We as a viewer or a reader can overlook the evil and come to sympathize with the Corleone family. The Godfather permits an audience to support the mafia lifestyle and the sins they’ve commit. We overlook what is supposed to be right and sympathize with the lifestyle of these mobsters.

We side with Corleone’s crime because of such quotes like “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man,” when Don Vito Corleone says this, we as the audience find ourselves liking a character they might not otherwise like. In America we tend to sympathize with people who are compassionate and are family oriented. Those who make their family priority number one, who shows and express true respect and defines a man by the amount of time he spends with those he loves. The Godfather narrative was able to supply the idea of a “strong and benevolent father to take care of both family and an unimpeded business life,” as stated in the MELUS Article, “The Godfather and American Culture: How the Corleones Became ‘Our Gang’” by Mary Ann Mannino. This simple image of a genuine family value allows for anyone to relate and understand the character even though at times the character may be immoral. Towards the end, Michael states “if I can die saying, “Life is so beautiful,” then nothing else is important.

If I can believe in myself that much, nothing else matters. He would follow his father. He would care for his children, his family, his world. But his children would grow in a different world. They would be doctors, artists, scientists. Governors. Presidents. Anything at all. He would see to it that they joined the general family of humanity, but he, as a powerful and prudent parent would most certainly keep a wary eye on that general family” when family again is reconfirmed (Puzo 411). Works Cited Mannino, Mary Ann. The Godfather and American Culture: How the Corleones Became 'Our Gang. '. " MELUS 28. 3 (2003): 218-232. Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Nov. 2012. Puzo, Mario. “The Godfather. ” Greenwich: Fawecett, 1969. Print. Simon, William. “Analysis of the Structure of The Godfather, Part One. " Studies in the Literary Imagination 16. 1 (1983): 75-90. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism Select. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. The Godfather. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Paramount Pictures. 1972. DVD.

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