Literature Study GuidesThe GodfatherBook 7 Chapter 28 Summary

The Godfather | Study Guide

Mario Puzo

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The Godfather | Book 7, Chapter 28 | Summary

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Summary

In Book 7, Chapter 28 of The Godfather, during a plane ride back to New York, Michael Corleone reflects on the last three years of his life. A year after he returned from Sicily, Michael married Kay Adams. Michael also underwent extensive training by Tom Hagen and Don Vito Corleone about the family business with the aim of Michael replacing the Don. Soon Kay bore a son and then got pregnant again. Kay and Michael lived in a house on the Long Island mall, where the other Corleones lived. Kay and Connie became friends. Connie often expressed concern to Kay about Michael not really liking her husband, Carlo Rizzi. When Kay brought this up to Michael, he reluctantly explained about Sonny going to Connie's apartment after her husband beat her up. On the way, Sonny was killed. As a result, Connie fears that Michael secretly blames Carlo for Sonny's death. However, Michael denies this. Connie and Mama Corleone nagged Michael about getting his face fixed, but he refused. However, because Kay became concerned that Michael might develop sinus trouble, he agreed to have the surgery.

After returning to New York, Michael meets with the Don, Hagen, Peter Clemenza, Salvatore Tessio, and Carlo in the Don's house. By this time, the power of the Corleone family has weakened. Emilio Barzini now heads the most powerful New York family. Also, the Barzini and Tattaglia families have formed an alliance. They realize the Don has retired, and Michael has taken his place. But they see Michael as a weaker ruler than the Don as do Clemenza, Tessio, and Carlo. The Don and Hagen realize Michael's true strength as a leader. During the meeting, Tessio soon realizes Michael and the Don do not want to convince Moe Greene to sell his share of the Vegas hotel because they want to kill him. Michael explains how the family business is going to move from New York to Las Vegas. Michael says Hagen is no longer consigliori and instead will serve as the family's lawyer in Las Vegas. In a year's time, Clemenza and Tessio will be allowed to break off and form their own families. Until that time, Michael wants them to follow his lead. Tessio expresses his disagreement with the move to Las Vegas because Michael seems to be making it from a weak position. Michael tells Tessio that he will just have to take his word that things will be negotiated well. After Clemenza, Tessio, and Carlo leave, Hagen says he's disappointed about no longer being consigliori. Michael asserts that he is not a wartime consigliori, which the family will probably need. Later that year, Nino dies from illness. Two days after this, Moe Greene is shot to death in his home.

Analysis

Business versus Personal

In Book 7, Chapter 28, Puzo continues to explore the theme of business versus personal through Michael learning more about the Don's business. During his tutelage by Hagen, Michael realizes the Don supported the counterfeiting of Johnny Fontaine's records when Johnny was a top singer. As a result, Johnny lost a lot of money. However, after Johnny visited the Don at Connie's wedding, the Don immediately removed his support of the counterfeiting. This example shows that the Don's love is extremely conditional. Even though Johnny is the Don's godson, the Don treated him like an enemy when he was out of the Don's good graces. The Don's attitude completely reversed when Johnny made up with him. So the Don's treatment of people, even members of his own family, is very black and white. Either a person is for him or against him. There is no middle ground. The narrator remarks on how the Don at times helps people get out of trouble that he created. The narrator blames this on the nature of the universe, which interlinks good and evil. However, this insight is off base. The cause of the Don helping people recover from a hurt he has given them comes from how he treats people as either enemies or allies.

This attitude by the Don and also Michael, who can be seen as a replica of the Don, leads to the theme of loyalty versus treachery. Connie fully realizes the Don's and Michael's black-and-white views. Because of this, she is terrified that Michael really hates Carlo, even though Michael appears friendly to her husband. Connie fears that Michael has never forgiven Carlo for creating a situation that led to Sonny's death. She knows Michael, like the Don, can view a family member as the enemy. Family ties make no difference. Connie wants assurance that Michael plans no treachery, which would involve her husband being killed. In a family with such black-and-white views, treachery is a constant threat.

Appearance versus Reality

Puzo begins to reveal more of the riddle created by the Don in Chapter 20. As suspected, this riddle involves people's greed for power. The Don and Michael allow the Corleone family to appear weak. Because of this, the Barzini and Tattaglia families revel in their new power and their place as the dominant families in New York. Because of their greed for power, they fail to consider that the Don's and Michael's "weak" position might really be a deception. Michael is so convincing in his pretense of being a weak leader that Clemenza and Tessio believe it as well. This is exactly what the Don and Michael want. Because the Barzini and Tattaglia families grossly underestimate the Corleones, they have become vulnerable to an unexpected attack.

In addition, Puzo uses the symbols of human beauty and human ugliness to develop Michael's character. The author says Michael would prefer to leave his face half deformed. Michael probably feels his face accurately represents his inner being, which has been split into two parts, specifically the reasonable, fair businessman and family man, and the ruthless killer consumed by a cold hatred. Michael relinquishes this shred of honesty because of his affection for Kay, who wants him to have the surgery. As a result, Michael creates a mask of attractiveness, which hides the ugly split within his soul.

Finally, Puzo shows the theme of the patriarchal family through Kay's adaptation to the Corleone family. Kay seems to fit comfortably into the role of the domestic woman, whose job is to satisfy her husband, bear children, and take care of domestic chores. Puzo depicts Kay as indifferent to Michael's actions. Even though Michael probably commits crimes and arranges for people to be killed, Kay is content as a housewife. However, Kay realizes women in this system do express power indirectly. For example, she learns that while Mama Corleone would never openly defy the Don, she goes to mass each day to pray that her husband doesn't go to Hell.

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