American law

Eddie makes recourse to the law that he spurned when he telephones the Immigration Bureau. Eddie has no fixed principle of justice; his feelings dictate what he believes to be 'just'. Alfieri tries to make Marco realise who is the real 'judge' of events – God. "You hear? Only God makes justice. " Both Eddie and Marco allow their personal feelings to affect their idea of justice. They are not strong enough to take an objective view. We see that Alfieri is right, people are not strong enough to execute true justice, and their desires and feeling always take a part.

This is why it is better to rely on the law, which although flawed offers an objective view. Following Alfieri's opening soliloquy; we are introduced to the living room in Eddie's apartment where most of the action in the play takes place. What takes place in the living room throughout the play is so different in every scene, and as the mood of the characters becomes more sombre, the room becomes a place of dread, whereas at the beginning it was a place of joy where a family lived in harmony, ready to welcome in some new family members.

The family are preparing to receive Beatrice's Italian cousins, Marco and Rodolpho who have come to America to seek their fortunes, and in Marco's case earn money to send home to his family. We see the family's willingness to harbour their relatives despite the legal ramifications, showing the Italian community's strong belief that blood is thicker than water. Eddie impresses upon his enthusiastic niece Catherine, the importance of utmost secrecy lest the authorities find out, and send Marco and Rodolpho back to Italy.

Again, Eddie's concern is more for the immigrants than for himself as he feels that he is merely doing what is right and that the law does not have the right to punish him. When Eddie and Alfieri have private discussions, the dialogue opens up Eddie's feelings to the audience. This allows him to be himself and not bottle up all of his emotions, 'he brings out his thoughts'. In these discussions, it is here where Eddie decides what to do about Beatrice's cousins and also where Alfieri tells him to 'put it out of his mind'.

In his prologue, he introduces the audience to the hero Eddie Carbone and indirectly briefs them of the themes in the play. He says that "justice is important" where he is. This along with law is one of the main themes of the play. Another prevalent theme in the emotionally charged play is loyalty and betrayal. During Alfieri's conversions with Eddie, he warns him of how the people will react towards Eddie if he betrays his family. 'You won't have a friend in the world, Eddie! ' This theme of betrayal links with loyalty, justice and law very well.

Sicilians are dependent on loyalty and if someone betrays someone in their family then they will be hated by all. If someone is disloyal, then those who have been betrayed will demand justice. This is exactly what Marco wanted, he wanted justice but not through the American way, but the Sicilian way of machoism and being a hero while settling old scores. He wanted revenge for what Eddie had done. When Alfieri told Marco about the law, Marco replied by saying 'I don't understand this country'. This shows us that Sicilians are not accustomed to western ways of life and the law.

There is great conflict between community and American law in the play. The community abides by Sicilian-American customs; it protects illegal immigrants within their homes, values respect and family, is hard working and knows the shipping culture, and has strong associations with names. They believe in trust and want revenge when a member has been wronged. Some of these values, however, come in conflict with those of the American system of justice. Eddie Carbone chooses to turn against his community and abide by the state laws.

He looses the respect of his community and friends-the name and personal identity he treasures. Eddie Carbone, with a stronger allegiance to the community, reverts back to another custom of Sicilian-Americans: revenge. Not only is Eddie pulled back to the values of his community, but the final victor of the play is symbolic of community values-the Italian, Marco. Thus, the small community is stronger than American law. However as aforementioned, the age-old battle between law and justice will never have a winner, and sometimes as Alfieri wisely states, it is better to settle for half measures.