Literature Study GuidesThe GodfatherBook 1 Chapter 9 Summary

The Godfather | Study Guide

Mario Puzo

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The Godfather | Book 1, Chapter 9 | Summary



At the opening of Book 1, Chapter 9 of The Godfather, Michael Corleone heads into New York, feeling bad about getting involved in the family business. Also, he feels guilty about not being completely honest with Kay Adams about his family's criminal activities. Even so, Michael is annoyed about Sonny Corleone using him as a noncombatant in the family crisis. Michael meets Kay in a hotel lobby, and they have dinner. After they make love in her room, Michael tells Kay that he's going to visit his father in the hospital. Kay wonders if Michael's father, Don Vito Corleone, really has people killed. Michael says no one is sure. He wants Kay to go home and think about marrying into his family. Then, he'll meet Kay back at their college.

When Michael visits the hospital, he's shocked to find that the people guarding his father have all left, including Salvatore Tessio's and Peter Clemenza's men. A nurse says the police made them leave because they were interfering with hospital service. Michael goes to the Don's room, calls Sonny, and explains that their father is unprotected. Sonny tells Michael to stay in the Don's room and lock the door. Instead, Michael convinces the nurse to move his father into another room. Michael tells the Don not to make any noise because men are coming to kill him. Also, Michael assures his father that he'll protect him.


In Book 1, Chapter 9, Puzo shows the influence of the patriarchal Corleone family on Michael. Michael feels as if he's being sucked into his family system, even though he doesn't want to be. This happens because of the strong emotional ties Michael has with his family. Since his birth, Michael has been taught that men in the Corleone family should be strong and forceful. They should look out for each other and protect the women in the family, whom they see as being weaker. Even though Michael tries to resist his family, these messages about what a man should be have their effect on him. Because of this, Michael is annoyed about being placed in the role of a noncombatant, which is viewed as a sissy job. Yet by the end of the chapter, Michael fills the role of the strong protector by hiding his father from possible attackers.

Also, Puzo explores the theme of loyalty versus treachery from a different angle. In previous chapters, the author shows how the precarious loyalty in the Mafia system often leads to treachery. In Chapter 8, Puzo conveys how loyalty and treachery effect Michael's personal life. Michael has always tried to be honest with Kay. By doing this, he shows his loyalty to her. However, the more he gets involved with his family's business, the more he finds himself lying to Kay. For example, he fails to paint a true picture of his family's criminal activities. He says the shooting of his father was a type of accident and the trouble will be over soon. Both of these statements are lies. So because of his family's influence, treachery enters Michael's relationship with Kay.

In addition, Michael begins to realize firsthand how business and personal mix in the context of his family's business. When Michael hides his father, he feels a "furious anger rising in him, a cold hatred for his father's enemies." However, unlike Sonny, he is able to suppress his anger and reason with a cold calculation. So Michael learns that in the Mafia, even when a man views his activities in a businesslike way, these activities are motivated by hatred.

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