The notion of family loyalty is displayed throughout the film as a driving force to override corruption, the workers on the waterfront can be considered a family as their struggle from corruption forces them to on each other for survival. The loyalty between the shore men’s families grips Edie as her Brother Joey’s murder increases her family loyalty to find his killer, but also Johnny Friendly’s power over the shoremen workers makes sure that their loyalty towards him is kept sacred so his corruption is not caught out.
The union on the waterfront are entangled in a system run by their ironically named boss, Johnny Friendly, who controls them dispensing work tokens to them each day, watching the workers scrambling like pigeons. They are aware that they are powerless to Friendly’s corrupt rule but their loyalty to the union is dependent on their survival and fear needs. This is seen when Father Barry questions the workers ethic, “Like Big Mac said, come back tomorrow.
” The workers despise the system but stay loyal to the union.
Pop Doyle’s determination to come back to work after his son’s death displays the dismal lifestyle of the waterfront and their constant need for survival “I gotta work to pay for the funeral”. Elia Kazan’s film portrays loyalty as a constant struggle through morals and views, as Terry and Charley have an ongoing dilemma between their different views of loyalty. So often, Terry is filmed behind a fence, portraying his sense of freedom. He is caged like his pigeons, he envies their freedom. Charley is supposedly Friendly’s ‘brain’, trusted with the financial dealings of the union.
He is one of Friendly’s acolytes and has pledged allegiance to the union boss, Charley has shown some loyalty to Terry, ensuring he gets easy work on the docks as long as he remains ‘D and D’. In one of the scenes in ‘On The Waterfront’ there is a shot in the back of a car involving Charley and Terry. In this scene, we begin to see Charley’s real love for his brother as Charley is given the task of silencing Terry. We see Charley’s turmoil as he pulls a gun on his brother, as Charley reconciles himself, the faint music of strings soar the atmosphere underlining his love and emotional pain as Terry reminds him “It was you… ou should have taken care of me a little more. ”
Charley knows he cannot give up his brother to the mob and Charley’s loyalty to Terry and his own sacrifice is pivotal in Terry’s later stance in the film. Edie’s challenge to Father Barry to be more involved, to care for the people surrounding his church, Edie inspires Father Barry to take up the cause “What kind of a saint hides in a church? ” prompting him to see the longshore as his church and fight for justice. Her friendship with Terry which stems from this loyalty to her brother, triggers Terry’s moral development.
In this way he connects with Terry, initially when Terry is a stool pigeon for the union at the meeting at the church. Later, after K. O. ’s death, when Father Barry delivers a passion-filled sermon, his words prompt Terry to take a stand, punching Tullio for his interruption and drawing attention of Friendly, watching from above. Father Barry becomes a father figure and guide for Terry, hearing his confession – “I swear I thought they was just going to talk to him”.
Father Barry urging him to confess to Edie and later testifies to the Crime Commission. After Charley’s death, Terry’s respect for Father Barry greatly assists in Terry’s redemption. These family loyalties are central to, and drive the narrative of, this film. Kazan seems to suggest that such relationships override mob rule, that the stronghold with one’s conscience and seeking moral truth is conclusive. Perhaps this aligns with the choices Kazan made with his uphold of ‘ratting ‘out his friends to the HUAC.
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On the Waterfront. (2016, Dec 12). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/on-the-waterfront-3-essay