Literature Study GuidesThe GodfatherBook 8 Chapter 30 Summary

The Godfather | Study Guide

Mario Puzo

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The Godfather | Book 8, Chapter 30 | Summary

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Summary

Book 8, Chapter 30 of The Godfather opens with a scene of Michael Corleone's bodyguard, Albert Neri, brushing his old policeman's uniform. This is one of the few times he has felt happy since his wife left him two years ago. When he was a young policeman, Neri married a nice Italian girl. Neri was known as a tough but fair cop who had a bad temper. One time, Neri beat up his nephew for swearing at his mother. Neri's wife feared her husband's temper, even though he never hit her. When she left him, Neri was stunned. Soon after, he kills a black man who cut up his wife and daughter. Because of this, Neri was prosecuted and sent to prison.

Peter Clemenza found out about the case and told Tom Hagen, who told Michael. Michael arranged for Neri to be released from prison and invited him to his house. Michael told Neri that he couldn't let a fellow Sicilian get a bum rap. Grateful, Neri felt privileged to have lunch with Michael and Don Vito Corleone. The Don told Neri how much he liked him. As a result, the Don offered the services of the Corleones to Neri. Neri knew he was being courted by the Don and Michael. He felt loyalty to them for treating him so well and seeing how he was unjustly treated by society. So Neri joined Clemenza's group and became a hit man for him. Soon Neri was promoted to the position of personal bodyguard of Michael. Now Neri puts on his old policeman's uniform. He knows he will soon have the opportunity to prove his loyalty to Michael.

Analysis

In Book 8, Chapter 30, Puzo interweaves the themes of the patriarchal family, justice, and loyalty versus treachery through the Don's and Michael's seduction of Albert Neri. Immersed in the traditional, patriarchal system, Neri sees his role in life to be cut and dry. He should be a dominant male who dispenses justice by punishing people when they do bad things. Neri sees his fierce temper and great strength as an asset in fulfilling this role. His job as a policeman gives him ample opportunity to do this. His wife, though, fears Neri's temper and leaves him. Also, when his temper gets out of hand, Neri kills a man who committed a crime. Because of this, Neri is prosecuted and sent to jail. Stunned by the treachery of his wife and the legal system, Neri sees himself as a victim of injustice. He cannot admit the possibility that his use of force in dealing with reprobates is wrong. Making such an admission would be an act of weakness for a man. Michael understands Neri's temperament and knows he can use such a man. Michael gets Neri released from jail, wines and dines him, and flatters him. Neri realizes Michael is seducing him, but doesn't mind. Michael appreciates Neri for who he is and doesn't expect him to change. So Neri shifts his loyalty from the police department and society to Michael and the criminal world. Now Neri can use his brutality and get rewarded for it. For Neri, keeping his honor as a dominant male is the most important thing in life. The same can be said for the Don, Michael, and most of the other men involved in the Mafia.

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