Literature Study GuidesThe GodfatherBook 1 Chapter 3 Summary

The Godfather | Study Guide

Mario Puzo

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The Godfather | Book 1, Chapter 3 | Summary



Book 1, Chapter 3 of The Godfather explains more about the niche Tom Hagen occupies. Virgil Sollozzo and his men lead Tom Hagen to a basement apartment. There Sollozzo informs Hagen that Don Vito Corleone is dead. Hagen is upset by this and tears come to his eyes. Sollozzo wants Hagen to convince Sonny Corleone to accept the narcotics deal. Hagen claims Sonny will want to seek revenge. Sollozzo knows this, but he wants Hagen to talk some sense into Sonny. Sollozzo says the narcotics deal is good business, and he needs the political protection the Corleone's can provide. Hagen expresses concern about Luca Brasi, who will seek revenge on Sollozzo no matter what. Sollozzo tells Hagen to let him worry about Brasi. Thinking over the proposal, Hagen realizes that Sollozzo is making good sense. A war between the Corleones and the Tattiglias, who will probably be backed by the other families, must be avoided. Then, Sollozzo gets a call informing him that the Don is still alive. Sollozzo tells this news to Hagen, who realizes he will not be set free to make a deal.


Book 1, Chapter 3 further explores the theme of business versus personal. Sollozzo has attempted to kill the Don for business reasons, which are motivated by greed. However, he is surprised that this business decision has such a strong emotional effect on Hagen. In fact, Hagen himself is surprised by his grief. This passage shows that business and personal affairs are closely entwined in the world of the Mafia. Despite the pride of gangsters in making cold, ruthless business decisions, all of these decisions affect their personal feelings, which they try to keep hidden as much as possible. Hagen realizes how strongly feelings can affect the criminal business world. For instance, he knows Brasi will be enraged when he hears about the Don's death. As a result, he will seek vengeance no matter how sound the business reasons are for the death. Later, Hagen indicates the mix of business and personal when he considers how the Corleones should respond to Sollozzo's proposal. Hagen believes the Corleones should avoid an all-out war with the Tattaglias. Such a decision seems like sound business practice. But then, Hagen thinks that after a time the Corleones should move against Sollozzo, which means they should kill him. Such a move is motivated by pure vengeance, a personal vendetta. By showing the close connection between business and personal, the author makes Sollozo seem false or deceptive when he says, "I don't like bloodshed, I'm a businessman and blood costs too much money."

Also, Puzo touches on the theme of the patriarchal family through Sollozzo's criticism of the Don. Sollozzo believes the Don was slipping because he let two thugs shoot him. However, he then implies that the appointment of a non-Sicilian, Tom Hagen, as consigliori is also a sign of the Don's reduced faculties. Because of this appointment, the other New York families no longer trust the Corleones. So, Sollozzo and the other families see any straying from the traditional patriarchal structure of Sicilian crime organizations as a weakness.

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