The Godfather is an insightful sociological study of violence, power, honor and obligation, corruption, justice and crime in America. Part I of The Godfather Trilogy centers on the Corleone crime “family” in the boroughs of New York City in the mid 1940s, dominated at first by the aging godfather/patriarch “Don” Vito Corleone. As a turn-of-the-century Silician immigrant, he is the head of one of the five Italian-American “families” that operates a crime syndicate. The ‘honorable’ crime “family,” working outside the system due to exclusion by social prejudice, serves as a metaphor for the way business (the pursuit of the American dream) is conducted in capitalistic, profit-making corporations and governmental circles.
Although conflict in life may seem unpleasant, literature readers find it to be quite exciting. The characters involved within a conflict clearly stand out as to what they truly believe in and who they are as a person. In Mario Puzo’s, “The Godfather”, a number of conflicts are revealed through the Mafia underworld.
The first, and most important conflict that is demonstrated in “The Godfather”, is revealed right away through “The Assassination Attempt on Don Corleone”. The Don shows the conflict of man vs. society by first refusing to enter the drug business. This decision, will ultimately effect the future conflicts that are revealed throughout the story. By refusing to participate in the drug business, the Corleone Family becomes outcasts of the five major crime families in New York. By doing so, the Don sparks the war between his family and the other five families. This war ends up lasting for several years and costs many lives.
The second conflict that is present in “The Godfather”, is the conflict of divergent ideas vs. his father’s ideas. Santino, “Sonny”, Corleone, demostrates this conflict by deciding to go against his father’s beliefs. Sonny feels that drugs are the thing of the future and he decides that if his father dies, he will make the deal of entering the narcotics business. Tom Hagen, the adopted son of Vito Corleone, also believes that by entering the drug business, the Family will become much more successful later down the road.
A third conflict that is present in “The Godfather”, is the conflict of man vs. himself. This conflict is demonstrates through the character of Michael Corleone, the youngest son of the Don. Michael’s conscience is at war with his with his desire. After the assassination attempt on his father, Michael feels that he needs to get involved and help his father continue the Family business. However, his mind also feels that it is wrong to enter the criminal business.
In conclusion, it is clear that many conflicts exist in Mario Puzo’s, “The Godfather”. They include, man vs. society, divergent ideas vs. father’s, and man vs. himself. Together, these conflicts create an intriguing plot that captures the viewer’s attention to the Mafia Underworld during the 1940’s and 1950’s in New York. Mario Puzo’s materpiece studies the power of conflicts that involve violence, power, honor, obligation, justice, and corruption.
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