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At the beginning of the play, from Alfieri’s monologue you can tell that there is constant tension between the people in the neighbourhood because of when he says how “I often think that behind that suspicious little nod of theirs lie three thousand years of distrust”. This shows that this “trust” hasn’t been broken recently, it has been going back generations upon generations. The comment “Oh, there were many here who were justly shot by unjust men. Justice is very important here” says to the reader that no matter how much violence it may lead to it will be done, and in the hands of the Italian civilians.
They don’t go to the police and instead fight it out themselves. Things are obviously starting to calm down now though because Alfieri no longer keeps a pistol in his filing cabinet and says that people are “now quite civilized, quite American”. When we first meet the Carbone family, we see an excited Catherine welcoming Eddie home from a long day of working in the docks. Catherine obviously has been waiting around for his approval of her new dress because she is very excited when she asks him what he thinks, “(running her hands over her skirt) I just got it.
You like it? ” and when he also asks about her hair change she wants his immediate approval. Eddie delivers with flattering comments like “oh, your mother was alive to see you now” and “you look like one of them girls that went to college” which is a complement in itself because it is saying she looks smart and sophisticated and not like any average person. Eddies comment about how the dress looks a bit short when she sits down and how she walks is what reveals his protectiveness over her and how she may look attractive to other men.
“Listen, you been giving me the willies the way you walk down the street” “I’m telling you you’re walking wavy” He doesn’t like that she may seem attractive to other guys in the neighbourhood. This upsets Catherine because Eddies approval obviously must mean so much to her. She even almost breaks into tears because he disapproves of how she walks. Eddie has always treated Catherine like a baby, even now when she’s 17 years old he says “You’re a baby, you don’t understand these things”. when he talks about her waving to Louis he warns her that “I could tell you things about Louis which you wouldn’t wave to him no more”.
Louis is obviously not the nice guy that Catherine thinks he his and seems like he has a dark past. From Catherine’s comment about how “I wish there was one guy you couldn’t tell me about” means that Eddies has a dark story about every guy in the neighbourhood which is so bad it would actually lead to an end of conversation between them and Catherine. Beatrice and Eddies relationship has an obvious problem which is that he has more feelings for Catherine than he does for Beatrice. Which Beatrice realises but Eddie doesn’t.
At the beginning Beatrice isn’t so open about the fact that she knows Eddies has feelings for his niece, but after some time she starts to argue with Eddie whenever its just them left in the room. But right now at the beginning Beatrice doesn’t speak it out. When Eddie tells Catherine that Beatrice’s cousins have landed, B. is very concerned about how the house looks and that she hasn’t bought a new table cloth “(astounded and afraid) I’m – I just – I can’t believe it! I didn’t even buy a new tablecloth; I was gonna wash the walls”. Eddie is actually a nice and caring person and not just the guy who brings in the money.
He reassures Beatrice that “Listen, they’ll think it’s a millionaire’s house compared to the way they live” this calms her down a bit but she is still a little doubtful until Eddie says “You’re saving their lives, what’re you worrying about the table cloth? They probably didn’t see a tablecloth in their whole life where they come from” which begins to calm her down. When Beatrice and Catherine reveal to Eddie that Catherine may start working, it isn’t surprising that Eddie is worried because he has feelings for her and obviously doesn’t want her to go to work and meet other men.
Also Eddie obviously usually has say in the house because as soon as they say Catherine has a job he replies with “what job? She’s gonna finish school”. When Catherine tries to change his mind he interrupts her and says “No – no, you gonna finish school. ” It seems everything has to go through eddies approval before anybody can make any changes to anything. But when the two women manage to get him to half agree he still isn’t sure about it. The stage direction showing that he’s “strangely nervous” proves this. It seems like there is no end to his questions because it goes from “where’s the job?
What company? ” to “Nostrand Avenue and where? ” to “what about all the stuff you wouldn’t learn this year though”. Eddie is just trying to keep Catherine at school so she will still be living in the house. If she makes her own money sooner or later she will move away. If she has been offered a job and been told she is the best student in the class there is no more for her to learn. Then it turns to “That ain’t what I wanted, though”. Which shows that Eddie had a plan set out for Catherine this whole time which would probably keep her in the house for as long as possible and now she won’t be following it.
He still tries to convince her that she shouldn’t go to work by saying “Near the Navy Yard plenty can happen in a block and a half. And a plumbing company! That’s one step over the water front. They’re practically longshoremen”. Eddie himself is a longshoreman so this obviously means if she is going to leave he wants her to leave to better people than himself or Louis or the plumbers at her stenography job. Beatrice replies with “Yeah, but she’ll be in the office, Eddie” but again it’s not what Eddie had in mind.
He had had good intentions for Catherine because he wanted her “to be with different kind of people. I want you to be in a nice office. Maybe a lawyers office in New York in one of them nice buildings”. He obviously doesn’t want her to go because when Beatrice tells him to think about it “(he is silent, staring down at the tablecloth, fingering the pattern)”. Beatrice tells him that “she’ll get out of the subway and be in the office in two minutes” but Eddie is somehow sickened by the idea of her working in that neighbourhood.
After some time Eddie actually agrees to let her work, Catherine is excited and says that she will buy new dishes with her first pay and Eddie replies with a sudden “and then you’ll move away” Catherine denies this accusation but Eddie still carries on with “Why not? That’s life. And you’ll come visit on Sundays, then once a month, then Christmas and New Year’s, finally” Catherine again denies the accusation but Eddie is hurt that she will be leaving him and the house and this shows he isn’t ready to move on yet.