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Mafia Violence Essay, Research Paper

A Mafia Family?s Use of Violence

Violence can either be used as mean of attaining power or as means of revenge. It is a highly known fact that the main focus of a stereotypical Mafia family should centre around the use of violence. ?The Godfather? as well as ?The Last Don? are two novels which hold true to this focus and are interestingly enough both written by the same author: the late Mario Puzo. Although being written more than twenty-five years apart, the two novels almost mirror each other throughout. For instance, near the beginning of each book the only daughter of each family gets married. Aside from that we also see one son die in each novel as well as the husband of the family?s only daughter to be killed by the family. Throughout all these instances the only thing dissimilar regarding the two Mafia families is their reasons for violence. A family?s use of violence is determined by how much power they hold. In ?The Godfather?, the main purpose behind all killing and violence can be directly related to attaining power. On the other hand, ?The Last Don? is a novel in which all cases of violence are used for the sole purpose of revenge.

The killing of one of the sons in both novels by Puzo appears to be the most prominent deaths. The unfortunate son in ?The Last Don?, Sylvio, is a very caring and nurturing individual who wishes to have his younger sister, Rose, marry the man of her choice. Her first choice is the son of a rival Mafia boss. He is a part of the Santadio clan. For obvious business reasons Don Clericuzio does not wish his daughter to become involved with the rival son let alone have him become a part of his family. Therefore Don Clericuzio strictly forbids Rose?s marriage to him. As a means of reconciling this difference Petie meets Rose?s lover to seek the solution to their marriage. On the way home after making arrangements to persuade his father to let his sister marry, Petie is sideswiped in his sportscar by a member of the Santadios and gunned to death. The fact that the Clericuzio clan is the most powerful family in the world means that the killing of any Santadio would not be by any stretch for personal gain of wealth. The Don of each family lays the seeds for generations to come which helps explain the future killings in this book. It is Don Clericuzio who as an act of revenge plans the total wipeout of the Santadio family. He lets the wedding between his daughter and the Santadio?s son proceed sending only his nephew Pippi to go as ?representation? of the Clericuzios. All goes well at the wedding as Pippi dances among his foes. Rose and her new husband go to the wedding bed that night and only that night. In the middle of the night a band of the Clericuzios storm the Santadio mansion and kill all of their men. They wear masks to disguise themselves from Rose but it is to no avail as she notices Pippi?s wedding shoes. In the end it is Pippi who kills Rose?s husband but not before the seeds of life had been planted for Rose?s child who was to be named Dante. Don Clericuzio had avenged the death of his son Sylvio. Unfortunately this was only the beginning of the chain of revenge.

The after effects of the Santadio-Clericuzio war was laid to rest by all of the Clericuzios except for Rose who was deeply in love with her husband. The hurt was evident throughout as she shunned upon the presence of anybody but her dear son Dante. Rose ended up going mad and became a senile old woman by the time she was fourty years old. The Clericuzio family kept the war against the Santadios quiet throughout Dante?s life as well as Cross? lifetime. The exception to this was when Dante?s mother would often whisper the truth about it to him. For this Dante,?..dreamed of vengeance on Pippi, and though these were fantasies, he thought them for his mother?s sake?. (P.429) Cross was Pippi?s son and was baptized at the same time as Dante. Dante returned the love that was shown by his mother and was obviously closer to her than any Clericuzio. At this point Dante is in his mid twenties and has become a cold-hearted hitman on behalf of the Clericuzio family. It is of no surprise then when Pippi, the killer of Dante?s father, is walking up the entrance to one of his mistresses houses that he is shot to death. Again the purpose of this killing was revenge whether it be for the death of Dante?s father or the mental illness inflicted onto his mother. Still, the chain of revenge in ?The Last Don? must continue.

Cross was very close to his father as he had lived with him solely during his upbringing since the age of ten. He had learned to become a ?man? just as his father was through hunting trips and so forth. Cross had been chosen as the one to most likely succeed Don Clericuzio as the head of the family but that was in doubt because of his inability to be the trigger man in killings. The family thought that without this quality he was lacking something. Therefore, Cross had been given 51 % of a casino in Las Vegas where he was allowed to live a legal life and still provide for the family. Through family business Dante found himself in the confines of Cross? hotel. He felt as though he had nothing to worry about as the murder of Pippi had been executed with perfection and even a clean cover up. So he thought. It was not long before Cross and one of his counterparts were able to seclude Dante and his aid in Pippi?s killing. Cross-was able to avenge the loss of his father by shooting both of the men responsible and then setting the villa, which the deed was done in, ablaze. This set of killings end the chain of revengeful murders but does not exempt other murders in the novel from having the same theme.

Although the worst thing that you are able to do to a family is to kill of one of their own, another horrible deed is too undermine a family?s intelligence by stealing from them right under their noses. As was the case for ?Big Tim?. Big Tim had set up a scheme in the Clericuzio?s casino in which he was able to thief more than a quarter of a million dollars virtually undetected. The fact that the scheme went on for a long period of time enraged the Clericuzio family and was able to make them look vulnerable. To seek revenge for this act it was Dante, the most ruthless killer of them all, who was sent to take care of Big Tim. Big Tim had set up a scheme to rig the Super Bowl but needed funding to back up his plan. It was made to look as though Dante was a high roller by sending him to his family?s own craps tables to lose a lot of money in a matter of minutes without flinching. Big Tim saw this and asked to meet with Dante in a secluded place. This could not have worked out any better for the Clericuzios as it would be a cinch to cover up the crime. Dante and Big Tim did have their meeting and it ended up with Big Tim swimming at the bottom of a lake with the fishes. Again it was a killing solely for revenge in ?The Last Don?.

The predecessor to ?The Last Don? was ?The Godfather? novel of twenty five years earlier. ?The Godfather? holds true to the family concept of ?The Last Don? and involves just as much violence, if not more. The main difference to the killings and the violence is the purpose. Unlike the Clericuzio family in ?The Last Don?, the Corleone family is not the most powerful family in the nation. The Corleones have a wish along with the five other major Mafia families to become the most powerful family. Therefore, the killings in ?The Godfather? are a direct result of the attainment of power. One of those examples does not even involve the killing of a man but rather an animal. Johnny Fontane, the godson of Don Corleone, comes to the Don on the day of his daughters wedding distraught as his career of singing and acting is spiraling downward. There is a movie role that is perfect for him that would once again skyrocket his career. The only problem is that the owner of the studio shooting the film is upset at him for stealing a young actress from his studios. The fact that Johnny was able to be this aspiring young beauty?s lover made the studio owner enraged with jealousy. Johnny Fontane has come to Don Corleone as a last resort to getting the movie role. Don Clericuzio makes a promise to get Johnny that part and has no intentions of braking that promise. He first sends his right hand man Tom Hagen to Hollywood to discuss the matter with Jack Woltz who was the owner of the studio making the film. Jack Woltz took Tom Hagen on a tour of his properties that included horse stables. The business meeting regarding Johnny would go down at dinner later that night. At the stables Tom was introduced to a horse by the name of Khartoum. This horse meant much more to Woltz than most people think. This was evident when, ??he stroked the horse?s mane and called out softly, ?Kahrtoum, Kahrtoum.? There was real love in his voice and the animal responded.?? (P. 59) Woltz had paid an insane amount of money to buy a world class racehorse and then retire it in it?s prime for the purpose of breeding. Later on that evening at the negotiations Woltz made it clear that Johnny Fontane would not get the part in the movie. Tom Hagen, who was supposed to spend the night in Woltz?s mansion, abruptly got up and left to fly back out east and give Don Corleone the bad news. The next morning, Tom Hagen awoke with bloodied sheets and the head of his precious Kahrtoum beside him. Johnny Fontane was given the part in the movie later that day. The Clericuzios had succeeded in attaining the movie role for the godson. This was just a taste of things to come in the novel.

Knowing that the Don of a Mafia family is the nucleus means that a Don must live each minute of his life in paranoia of who is going to knock him off. The man who would take a stab at taking down Don Corleone would be a man by the name of Sollozo. He was an opportunist wanting to start up a large narcotics ring in the United States and had the backing of five of the six Mafia families. The only one unwilling to cooperate were the Corleones. The political power and sway that the Corleones had was enough to hinder the narcotics operation that was in the works. As a way of continuing his narcotics business, Sollozo decides to pull a gun on Don Corleone while he is uncharacteristically buying fruit from a street vendor. The shots only wound the Don but they were severe enough to put him in hospital and out of commission for a few weeks. Don Corleone?s oldest son Sonny has the sense of mind to place guards outside of the hospital to avoid a repeat attack. Something seems fishy as the city police captain has the guards taken away and put in jail for the night to make the Don available. The Don?s youngest son, Michael, arrives on the scene just before the second murder attempt is to take place. This foils the plan to kill the Don for another night. Realizing that to get to the Don they might have to take down his sons first, Sollozo and Police Captain McCluskey arrange a meeting with Michael the next day to negotiate a deal. They all go to a restaurant a few towns away and begin to have dinner. Although never before being involved in violence, Michael knew that for his family name to survive and climb he would have to take care of these two men. This was evident when Michael talks with his two dinner guests by saying, ?I hope we can settle things tonight, I don?t want my father bothered anymore.? It was all carefully planned out as Michael went to the washroom and retrieved a gun that had been carefully placed earlier on in the day. Michael then proceeded to exit the washroom and shoot Solozzo and McCluskey dead. This act ended the threat by these two men against the Don. It was important for the Don to stay alive, as his personal political contacts were crucial to the advancement of the Corleone family. The Don was still in trouble for a while though physically and it was not sure whether or not he would pull through. This caused other problems for the Corleones.

While Don Corleone was recuperating from his wounds it was important to have somebody else temporarily run the family business. The man to do this was the eldest son, Sonny. For the advancement of the other families, Sonny was now considered the roadblock to the other family?s riches in the narcotics business. For the advancement of their families they conspired to kill Sonny. They decided to get to him by dealing with matters that were close to his heart. Sonny?s younger sister Connie has been beaten before by her husband Carlo. Upon hearing of this news Sonny had proceeded to track down Carlo and heavily beat him and give him an ultimatum which stated, ?You dirty bastard, you ever beat up my sister again I?ll kill you.? (P. 244) Carlo again had the nerve to beat up on his wife: this time under the protection one or all of the other five Mafia families. After hearing of another beating on his younger sister, Connie, Sonny jumped into his car and headed towards the town where Carlo ran his sports betting business. He first had to cross a toll bridge. When Sonny arrived at the booth to pay his toll he was met by three carloads of men who unleashed gunfire into his car killing him instantly. With Sonny dead and the Don still bed ridden, the five families figured that they were now capable of advancing their narcotics operation. Little did they know that one man had the brains to single-handedly take control of all Mafia related business in the United States.

After the death of Sonny it was not long before Don Corleone lost his life to a stroke. This left the responsibility of running the family?s operation up to the third son, Michael. To make sure that nobody was able to stop him in his quest to have his family the most powerful in the States, Michael orders the killing of all five leaders of the Mafia families. One man by the name of Neri was able to wipe out all five family Dons by such means as wearing police disguises, storming hotel rooms and just finding the right times on the streets to shoot them. Michael Corleone had successfully advanced his family to the head of the organized crime world.

Knowing so much about the inner workings of a Mafia family, Mario Puzo is able differentiate the needs and wants of families in different situations. The Corleone family in ?The Godfather? had an ambition to become the most powerful family in the nation. This forces them to use violence and kill to rise the ladder to the top. In ?The Last Don?, the Clericuzio family already had all the power that they would ever want and therefore they are led to a life of revenging attacks against them. It is a given fact that Mafia families are forced to get their message across through violence. The reasons behind a familie?s use of force can be related to how much power they hold.

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