At the beginning of the play I got the impression of Eddie and Catherine as being father and daughter. Their relationship is friendly at the beginning, but Eddie may have some feelings for Catherine because when they are first introduced, Eddie feels a bit “shy” of Catherine when she comes in front of him in a short dress and the she acts by “taking his arm”. Catherine acts normally and has no feelings for Eddie other than as a daughter.
Their relationship is rather uneasy; Eddie is over-protective and possessive of Catherine, and he does not allow her the freedom of work at the age of eighteen.
However, this is resolved when he reluctantly agrees that she can work. Her maturity still presents a potential threat towards the relationship of uncle and niece. This threat is detected by Eddie’s wife Beatrice when she says, “you want some thing else Eddie, you can never have her”.
Eddie’s relationship with Catherine starts to change when Beatrice’s cousins first move in their house.
He knows Rodolfo is the main barrier between him and his niece. He tries to break the barrier by getting involved in their normal life and criticising Rodolfo at every step he takes, “watch your step, submarine, by the rights they oughta throw you back in the water”, is an illustration of his misbehaviour towards Rodolfo.
Eddie uses different techniques to turn Catherine away from Rodolfo, one of which is to make her believe that Rodolfo is attracted because she can be his ticket to American Citizenship.
Eddie hopes this will force her to return to her dependence on him. This turns out to be a complete failure because she asks Rodolfo if this is true and he answers her honestly that his falling in love with her has got nothing to do with U.S. citizenship. After this episode Catherine gets even more involved in her relationship with Rodolfo.
Eddie tries to break their relationship between Rodolfo and Catherine when they are alone in the house and he comes in a state of drunkenness and kisses Rodolfo to show Catherine that Rodolfo is homosexual. He then kisses Catherine which reveals his most protected secret that he has denied in words namely, that he likes Catherine. Two successive kisses also suggests they are meant to destroy Catherine and Rodolfo’s union.
Beatrice, Eddie’s wife shows her concern for different people. The first is for Eddie, her husband. She tells him that he is very over protective of Catherine at the beginning of the play when he does not allow Catherine the freedom to work. Beatrice tells Eddie that she is no more, “a little girl”, as she used be and he should stop treating her like a “twelve years old”. Beatrice feels it is also her duty to warn Catherine of Eddie. Beatrice takes a no-nonsense approach and tells her that she should stop “throwing yourself at Eddie, not to come in your slip, not to sit on the edge of the bath tub when he is shavi’in in his underwear”. Catherine feels ashamed and embarrassed at this stage but Beatrice gives her this advice which she has to follow.
Beatrice is the one who encourages Catherine to get her independence, because she knows her presence is pulling Eddie away from her. She indicates that by saying, “when am I gonna be wife again, Eddie?” He has not made love to her for some time, she knows her rights as a wife; and she’s not prepared to let Eddie ignore these rights because she knows Catherine is the root cause for it. Beatrice shows love for her cousins too when they first enter U.S. by offering them a place to stay for “as long as you wish”. She shows her love for Rodolfo by allowing him to take Catherine out to the cinemas. She does not tell any one about Marco’s and Rodolfo’s illegal status, unlike her husband.
Marco is motivated by love of his own family in Sicily. The only reason he came to U.S. is to make money, so he can support his family. He knows Beatrice and Eddie are very nice and kind to him and his brother because they are letting him to stay at their house. He feels it is his duty to tell his brother to behave in an appropriate manner towards Eddie and Beatrice. Marco is stronger than his brother Rodolfo which is evident from the tense drama at the chair lifting contest at end of act I. He shows Eddie that even though they are staying in his house they will not tolerate any kind of insult or be bullied around. Marco has a very strong feeling about his society’s code which Eddie does not realise. Marco knows that betraying him and his brother is something that cannot go unpunished.
When Eddie has betrayed Marco and his brother to the immigration Bureau, Marco thinks what Eddie did to him is very dishonourable and unjust, even though Eddie has not broken any real law. To Marco his Sicilian code of justice and honour is more important than any individual. Rodolfo’s love for Catherine causes jealously between him and Eddie. He slowly captures Catherine’s attention through his charm, even though he may not be able to speak English properly. Eddie gets his revenge by punching Rodolfo in the face while teaching him how to box. In fact Eddie is giving a warning to Rodolfo that he should stay away form Catherine.
When Rodolfo tries to impress Catherine through his singing, this is abruptly terminated by Eddie by reminding him of their illegal status. He tries to convince Catherine that Rodolfo is homosexual, “after all he cooks, sews, and sings”. He proves this by kissing Rodolfo at the start of act II. When Eddie realises that nothing has worked to get Catherine away from Rodolfo, he knows the only thing left for him to do is to inform the immigration bureau and break their code of justice and honour. He doesn’t only betray the brothers, he also unintentionally betrays the relatives of his neighbours and this ultimately leads to his death by Marco.
Miller discusses family loyalties in the play. This theme is shown by Eddie towards his wife’s cousins Marco and his younger brother Rodolfo. Marco illustrates this theme towards his family in Italy and also towards his brother Rodolfo. Eddie’s neighbours the Liparis illustrate this theme towards their relatives. Beatrice is very loyal to her husband and when he forces her to choose between staying with him or going to the wedding she has no difficulty about deciding to remain with him.
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