‘By establishing Terry Malloy as the hero, On the Waterfront values individual conscience above community loyalty.’ Discuss.
Kazan does not only use Terry Malloy by establishing him a hero in On the Waterfront to value individual conscience or moral growth above community loyalty or sense of obligation, but also other characters like Edie and Father Barry. Unlike Terry, who has to gain individual conscience, Edie and Father Barry have never been really closely connected to the community, which allows them individual conscience. Their supporting role of Terry’s moral growth is used by Kazan to praise individual conscience, as it also liberates the waterfront. It should not be mistaken that Kazan does support individual conscience in the deaths of Charley and Dugan who had to die for the possession of a sense of justice. Their deaths were portrayed by Kazan as a type of martyrdom and also had a great impact on Terry, which resulted in his portrayal as a hero.
Edie Doyle and Father Barry epitomise individual conscience, which Kazan attributes to how they are outsiders and allows this value to waver as both of them become more involved with actions of disruption and protest against the corrupt union on the waterfront. Father Barry was a “saint [who] hid in the church” believing that “time and faith were great healers”. It was Edie’s sense of justice which pushed Father Barry out of his passive role to work for social justice, as she bitingly scorned Father Barry’s inability with a close up used so that viewers can tangibly feel her resentment, when Joey had just been pushed off the roof of the tenement. Father Barry had transformed from being a “potato eater” (demeaning label of an Irish Catholic simpleton), to risk being “shipped off to Abyssinia” (a pun perhaps as the abyss is death) to break the mob’s corrupt grip on the waterfront. The attack on the church did not faze Father Barry despite the alarming clatter of baseball bats on the pavement and heads...
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