1. Puzo, Mario. The Godfather. New York, New York, USA: Signet, 1969.
The title of the book, The Godfather, is a reference to one of the main characters, Don Vito Corleone. The position of Godfather in the Italian Community is one of great respect, admiration, and affection. Don Vito Corleone is given this title by many as a sign of respect for the favors that he does as well for his cunning, power, and influence.
The major conflict of the novel concerns Don Vito Corleone and his youngest son Michael. As the Corleones become engaged in a mob war against four of the other five major crime families of New York, Michael against his intent finds himself succeeding Vito as head of the Corleone Family. The story begins at Connie Corleone’s wedding to Carlo Rizzi at which her father (Vito), Tom Hagen (the soon-to-be Consigliere), and Santino Corleone (Vito’s oldest son and the Underboss) are attending to the family business upstairs. Michael arrives with his girl friend Kay Adams (a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), and during the festivities Michael explains to Kay about his family and their involvement in organized crime and how he’s not like them and wants to live a legitimate life. Unlike Tom, who is an adopted son, and Fredo and Santino who are both biological sons of Vito, Michael is treated as a civilian by the mob world as a result of his refusal to be involved in the family business.
Soon afterwards, Vito refuses to involve the Corleone Family in the finance and protection of a drug smuggling operation headed by Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo who is backed by the Barzini and Tattaglia Families. This launches the family into a mob war as Vito’s best soldier, Luca Brasi, is murdered and an attempt to assassinate Vito are carried out by Sollozzo’s men. Vito survives the attempt but is badly hurt and as a result, Sonny temporarily takes control of the family. While visiting Vito in the hospital, Michael discovers that the guards who were hired to protect his father were not there and he was thus vulnerable to another assassination attempt. Following this, we learn that all Michael wants is to be out, to live his own life, but he also realizes his obligation to the family while Vito is incapacitated.
For the first time, out of concern for his father and family, he takes what amounts to involvement in the family business as he stands outside the hospital with one of his father’s friends pretending to be a guard holding a gun in order to scare-off the would be assassins until Sonny and Tom send help. He then grills a crooked cop named McCluskey about the reasons why his father is left unguarded, and McCluskey punches him smashing one side of his face. Luckily for both Michael and Vito, it is then that Tom arrives with men to guard Vito and is able to take care of a now unconscious Michael as well as use his legal expertise to thwart McCluskey’s efforts against the family for the night. It is revealed that McCluskey works for Sollozzo using his position as a Police Captain to aid Sollozzo’s drug rackets as well as serving as Sollozzo’s personal bodyguard. After a discussion with the higher ranking members of the family, it’s decided that for the safety of Vito and for the good of the family (and the family business), Michael would have to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey. He arranges to meet McCluskey and Sollozzo at a small Italian Restaurant to negotiate a peace. At the meeting, the Corleone family plants a gun in the bathroom which Michael uses to kill both men. He then flees to Sicily, wear Vito was born, where he hides with Vito’s associate Don Tommasino. A mob war begins in New York between the Corleones and the other four of the five families, primarily the Barzini and Tattaglia families.
While Michael is still in Sicily, Santino is killed. Vito, though for the most part recovered, rises from his sick bed to reassume head of the family. He calls together the heads of the major mob families. There he compromises...
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