Literature Study GuidesThe GodfatherBook 4 Chapter 16 Summary

The Godfather | Study Guide

Mario Puzo

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The Godfather | Book 4, Chapter 16 | Summary

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Summary

In Book 4, Chapter 16 of The Godfather, readers learn more about the character Carlo Rizzo, husband of Connie Corleone. Carlo is frustrated about being left out of Don Vito Corleone's family business. He takes out his frustration on his wife Connie by beating her. He feels good about hitting the daughter of such a powerful man as the Don. Carlo views Connie as his property and, because of this, treats her however he likes. One summer day, Connie planned to visit her father, but after Carlo gives her a cut lip, she decides not to go. After Carlo first struck her, Connie complained about it to her father. The Don was unsympathetic, saying, "Go home and learn how to behave so that he will not beat you." Realizing that the Don refused to interfere in his marriage, Carlo became bolder, beating his wife more often. Carlo drives to his bookie operation, feeling perfectly safe. But he would not have felt so safe if he knew Sonny flew into a rage when he learned about the beatings.

After visiting Lucy Mancini in New York, Sonny Corleone goes to Connie's apartment. A pregnant and bruised Connie answers the door and sobs as she falls into Sonny's arms. Sonny sees Connie's puffed lip and gets furious. Connie gets scared that Sonny might kill Carlo. He assures her that he wouldn't make her kid an orphan before he's born. At Carlo's bookie joint, Carlo talks with some of his employees. Sonny arrives and beats up Carlo, who submissively takes the beating. Peter Clemenza hears about Sonny's temper tantrum and tells Tom Hagen. Hagen orders Clemenza to send out men to protect Sonny from the Tattaglias.

Analysis

In Book 4, Chapter 16, Puzo focuses mainly on the theme of the patriarchal family and the widespread sexism in this system. In the patriarchy of the Corleone family, women are treated like property to be owned. They have no rights and no power. Because of this, Carlo feels it's his privilege to beat up Connie because he owns her. Women in this type of patriarchy are treated as slaves. When Connie complains to her father about the beatings, the Don supports the husband and blames the victim. Such a dynamic is common in abusive systems, where the perpetrators are protected and the abused are not helped. Carlo feels proud about beating his wife because he's doing what a "real" man should do in a patriarchal family. Carlo says, "She thinks she can boss me around, I don't stand for that." When Connie tries to assert some power by hinting at getting a divorce, the Don immediately squelches her. The Don justifies this by saying a child must come into the world with a father. The Don must also be outraged that a woman in his family would dare to hint at taking control of her life. For the Don, women should not have any power except in domestic roles.

Puzo contrasts the symbol of human ugliness with the symbol of human beauty used in Chapter 1. In this chapter, the author shows Connie and Carlo as a beautiful young couple about to go off on their honeymoon. The narrator describes Connie as "so radiant as to be almost beautiful." In contrast, in Chapter 16, Puzo emphasizes physical ugliness through Connie's abused face. The author, therefore, emphasizes that the façade of beauty in the Corleone family hides a deeper ugliness, in this case a woman being abused by a husband who is supported by the family system.

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