Power and Paradox

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The Godfather by Mario Puzo introduces the central character on the back cover, in a very unorthodox and contradictory manner.

Tyrant, Blackmailer, Racketeer, Murderer – his influence reaches every level of American society. Meet Don Corleone, a friendly man, a just man, a reasonable man. The deadliest Lord of the Cosa Nostra. The Godfather.

The Godfather is an intense portrayal of organized crime. The book explicitly portrays the American Mafia from close quarters. It’s a compelling tale of blackmail, extortion, murder and strict family values. The Godfather is the story of organized crime set in the 1940’s that revolves around the Corleone family and ‘Don Vito Corleone’. The book introduces and details the life of Don Corleone as the head of one of the five mafia-families in America. Don Corleone is identified as a just, reasonable and a very influential man. He is well respected and is equally feared by all. His power is legendary, as are his policies. The Don, respectfully referred to as the Godfather, has a set of values, which he abides by, no matter what the consequences. The book goes on to draw a parallel between the “system” and many forms of unlawful but lucrative business, showing that both are equally corrupt and their very existence is inevitable from the involvement of the Mafia.

Don Corleone is a man of contradictions. He is ruthless yet compassionate, ready to lay down his life for a friend, but does not hesitate to kill the same friend at the slightest hint of treachery. He is fiercely protective yet tolerant. He is a man who lives by his own rules and refuses to recognize or bow down to another person’s authority or force. He ensured justice to everyone around him and helped the needy and expected only friendship in return. The sincere friendship, which the Godfather held in high regard. The friendship that he offered honestly and generously in the name of which he offered favors, and collected them in due course of time. Over the years, he helps out many families and fosters many godsons, in return of an unwritten promise that they would standby the Godfather whenever he needs their services.The Don himself is projected as a generalised God figure .He is above the law and provides justice to everyone who comes at his door and the book describes him very aptly in a short summary

Don Vito Corleone was a man to whom everybody came for help, and never were they disappointed. He made no empty promises, nor the craven excuse that his hands were tied by more powerful forces in the world than himself. It was not necessary that he be your friend, it was not even important that you had no means with which to repay him. Only one thing was required. That you, you yourself, proclaim your friendship. And then, no matter how poor or powerless the supplicant, Don Corleone would take that man’s troubles to his heart. And he would let nothing stand in the way to a solution of that man’s woe. His reward? Friendship, the respectful title of “Don,” and sometimes the more affectionate salutation of “Godfather.”

The book explains the transformation of Vito Corleone, a simple man, to a powerful Mafia boss known as “the Godfather” the mastermind of the ingenious mafia underworld.

The Corleones’ war against the Five Families for its supremacy is a brilliant, tactical and strategic manipulation, with every character playing a part in whatever little piece he has to play. Every single character of the book has a purpose and has a persona hidden from others.

What makes The Godfather so fascinating is the fact that it is almost impossible to classify it under a single genre. It has generous parts of crime, passion, love, lust, treachery and all other emotions. The book is perhaps written a little recklessly. The language is simple and crude. But the plot has a certain flow and you can turn one page after another without realizing it. The scenes are well described and suggest clear-cut visualizations. This book is definitely a must read. Like the Don says, this book is “an offer you can’t refuse

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