Community is a powerful context for the play; it dictates very specific norms and rules for the family that controls the actions of the characters. All of the characters are forced to reconcile between American culture and the Italian community culture that surrounds. The cultural and moral difference between the two provides one of the great conflicts in the play. The tight community around them also creates great tension in the Carbone family because they are constantly being watched.
The neighbors knew when Marco and Rodolpho arrived, saw Marco spit in Eddie’s face and Eddie die by Marco’s hand. The community is the watcher; the group controls and monitors the behavior of every member. Although Eddie takes a substantial turn away from the community by calling the Immigration Bureau, he still needs acceptance and spends his last moments fighting Marco for his good name in the community Now each man feels that the other has degraded him and wants an apology or revenge. Each of them feels that the other has their name and both are willing to fight for that name.
All along, it is Marco who wants revenge here, not Rodolfo, even though it was because of Rodolfo that Eddie did what he did. This shows the difference between the brothers. Marco wants justice, yet Rodolfo wants a happy ending – to marry Catherine and for everyone to be friends again and live happily ever after. He apologises to Eddie and takes full responsibility for everything, in the hope of making this happen, but Eddie is not interested in anyone but Marco’s apology. He says: “He didn’t take my name: he’s only a punk.
Marco’s got my name… he’s gonna give it back to me in front of this neighbourhood, or we have it out. ” This shows he still sees Rodolfo as a punk, a child rather than a man, and the only person whose apology matters is Marco, because he is the man who took Eddie’s name, even though it was Rodolfo whom he always disliked. He, like Marco, is refusing to compromise, despite Rodolfo, Beatrice and Catherine pleading with them not to fight. Once they come head to head, Eddie tells the whole neighbourhood what he thinks about Marco.
He says: “He knows that (what he said about Eddie) ain’t right. To do like that? To a man? Which I put my roof over their head and my food in their mouth?… (to Marco) Wipin’ the neighbourhood with my name like a dirt rag!… Now gimme my name and we go together to the wedding. ” The importance of manhood appears again here – Eddie believes that Marco’s behaviour is especially unacceptable because it was towards a man. He then says: “Tell the people, Marco, tell them what a liar you are! Come on, liar, you know what you done!
” He hardly knows what he is saying now – he is pleading with the neighbourhood to believe and support him and everything he thinks about Marco comes flying out and he lunges for Marco, who strikes him back, saying: “Animal! You go on your knees to me! ” Nothing will make Marco forgive Eddie and he wants his revenge. He was probably not going to kill him, but as soon as Eddie springs a knife into his hand, the stakes are raised and everyone knows that this is now to be a fight to the death.
The final words exchanged between Eddie and Marco show that even with the risk of death, neither of them is willing to back down an inch to the man who they think has taken all the pride and honour they ever had. Eddie: You lied about me, Marco. Now say it. Come on now, say it! Marco: Anima-a-a-l! Despite Eddie having planned and brought the knife (because he knows he cannot beat Marco on even terms), it is Marco’s strength that triumphs as the knife enters Eddie’s chest with Eddie still holding it.
This play shows quite how important a man’s family and name are to him in this Sicilian community, especially to men such as Eddie and Marco. Their similarity in want of revenge and refusal to compromise contributed to Eddie’s death, yet it was mainly caused by Eddie alone. What he never realised was that he took his own name. He saw only one view throughout the play and acted without considering the consequences. Had he not been so desperate to separate Catherine and Rodolfo and to prove how Rodolfo was not a real man, he would never have angered Marco and the two might have remained in a respectful, trusting relationship.
But once they were on opposing sides the determination they both had to find justice and protect their own honour and the willingness of them both to sacrifice everything for it was fatal. Of all the many relationships in the play, it is this one that ultimately destroys the family because the two people are the two with strength – indeed the two ‘real men’ – and they are both of the same violent breed. As Alfieri said, ‘it is better to settle for half’, yet settling for half was never an option for Eddie or Marco so death was the only possible ending.