Essay on Family and Honour

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“Honor, Huh?” (Coppola 115:56) Kay says to Michael when he sees that the father in the puppet show kills his daughter because his daughter has betrayed her husband and fallen in love with her cousin; when Michael’s old bodyguard tells Michael that Don Tommsino was shot, Kay sighs, “It never ends.” (Coppola 123:26) These two lines said by Kay imply that the honor of the Corleone family has a symbiotic relationship with the violence. In The Godfather Part III, Michael tries to legitimize his criminal business to make his family steady and prosperous, but he fails to achieve this goal completely since the conflicts with other parties such as other mafia groups cannot be eliminated. In my perspective, the price of prosperity and honor is constant strife and violence. As long as the mafia family continues to defend the honor, the violence will never disappear because enmity and conflicts accumulate all the time.

In Godfather III, as the second generation of the Corleone family, Michael Corleone in his later years has been trying to legalize the family business in the hope of washing away the history of crime. He has established the Vito Corleone Foundation for charity and has been awarded a Commander of the Order of St. Sebastian. Zasa, a partner of the Corleone family, has conflicts with Vincent Mancini who is Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son. Michael tries to handle this problem peacefully but Vincent bites Zasa’s ear with anger. Michael blames Vincent’s violence, nevertheless, he lets Vincent be a member of the Corleone family. To legitimate the family business and gain honor and wealth for the family, Michael tries to buy the Vatican's shares in an international real estate holding company called Immobiliare. To clear the criminal history further, Michael shares the interests gained from casinos with all his partners except Zasa. Zasa announces that Michael is his enemy and leaves the meeting hall. Don Altobello also leaves and later, a helicopter strafes the hall which is organized by Zasa and Don Altobello. Michael runs away with the cover of Vincent. Vincent takes revenge and kills Zasa in the street, while Michael is extremely angry about it because he has been dedicating himself to legitimation. Later, Michael and his family go to Sicily for his son’s opera. When Michael takes Kay on a tour in Sicily, the old partner Don Tommsino is killed, which is planned by Altobello. Michael does not want to commit any crime while Vincent convinces him to take revenge, and Michael passes the godfather position to Vicente. Finally, during the opera, Vincent and Connie conduct their plan to kill the enemies including Altobello and Gilday. The killer sent by Altobello shoots at Michael outside the theater. Michael gets shot in his shoulder, while his daughter Mary gets shot in the chest and dies. Michael cries with huge sorrow.

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One significant concept in the course is the honor. The mafia survives by honor and they use the code of honor to organize the crime society. With the code of honor, murders, and violence can be regarded as sacred justice. (35 Nicaso) Violence can be tolerated and accepted because cruel deeds are honorable actions to defend the esteem and honor of one family. In my opinion, violence defends honor, and honor provides a justice reason for violence. In Godfather III, the current conflicts and enemies of the mafia family cannot be dealt with peacefully because of the grave criminal history. Thus, the attempt of Michael to legitimize the family is not realized in the end because the Corleone family has to use violence to handle the affairs and take the revenge for family’s esteem. In the film, the puppet show in Sicily’s street and the opera performed by Michael’s son Anthony both imply the coexistence of honor and violence. In the puppet show, the daughter betrays her husband and has an affair with her cousin, which violates the honor of the family, so her father kills her. In the opera, Cavalleria Rusticana, Alfio’s wife Lola has affairs with her old lover Turiddu. Alfio and Turiddu duel for honor as blood can wash dishonor and shame and only blood can wash blood offences away. The characters in the shows defend honor with violence, which is like how the Corleone family and their enemies treat each other. For instance, when Don Tommsino is killed, Calo says, “My master is dead. Blood calls for blood. I must have revenge!” (123:07) In the end, Calo kills Lucchesi who is on the side of Altobello and against the deal of Immobiliare. In addition, Michael’s sister, Connie, asks Vincent to strike back if anything happens to Michael. Connie herself also takes action at the opera and kills her Godfather, Altobello, with poisoned cannoli. The violent means are conducted by Vincent all the same to defend the family’s honor. In the beginning, Vincent bites Zasa’s ear because Zasa disrespects Michael and his family, and Zasa makes a territory that belongs to the Corleone Family a lawless ruin. Zasa sends two men to kill Vincent while Vincent kills the two killers instead. So, after the attack in the meeting hall, he kills Zasa in the street as revenge. He also asks Al Neri to kill Archbishop Gilday who asks Michael for $600 million to cover the debt deficit due to his mismanagement and corruption. At the end of the film, Vincent kills the killer who shoots Michael and Mary. Overall, violence is inevitable when they try to defend their family’s honor and dignity.

In conclusion, honor and violence are inseparable in a mafia family. Michael swears on the lives of his children that he will sin no more. However, his family and he have to guard the honor and take revenge using violence. The death of his daughter reflects his oath as well as the indivisible relationship between family honor and violence. Therefore, honor and violence exist together in mafia families.

Work Cited:

    1. Nicaso, Antonio, and Marcel Danesi. Made Men: Mafia Culture and the Power of Symbols, Rituals, and Myth. Rowman


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