1.1.1 Eddie is 40 years old, an
American of Sicilian decent.
He is described as "a husky,
longshoreman." He is an
ordinary man, part of the
local Italian community.
1.1.2 He is the owner of the house (bossy) - both
Beatrice and Catherine are obviously
used to him laying down the rules. He
sees this as a 'manly' thing to do and
he expects all men to do the same -
which is why he cannot accept
Rodolpho's more gentle talents.
1.1.3 He is generous enough to offer a
home to Beatrice's cousins, but at
the same time slightly wary and
self-protective or selfish - he reminds
Beatrice not to let them sleep in his
bed. This foreshadows his love for
Catherine, when he comes across as
1.1.4 He is concerned about his honour
and protecting his good name. He
ends the tale of the informer Vinny
Bolzano, "a guy do a thing like that?
How's he gonna show his face?"
1.1.5 He is very protective of Catherine, who
he has brought up as if she were his
own daughter. He paid for her typing
lessons and had ambitions for her to
rise to a different class. He is proud of
her looks, yet concerned that she will
attract the attention of men and is
concerned about her new job. He finds
it hard to admit that she has become a
woman. "I guess I just never figured...
that you would ever grow up."
220.127.116.11 However, it soon becomes clear to us that Eddie is in love with
Catherine. He has not made love to his wife for three months. He
quickly becomes jealous of Rodolpho because of the immediate
impression Rodolpho makes on Catherine. The stage directions tell
us, "He looks at [Catherine] like a lost boy" when she tells him she
loves Rodolpho. He is unable to admit this shameful emotion to
himself and is angry when Beatrice and Alfieri dare to mention it.
18.104.22.168.1 As his feelings for Catherine become more obsessive, he does everything he can to prevent Rodolpho from marrying her.
22.214.171.124.1.1 He mocks Rodolpho's skills at cooking, singing
and sewing, claims he is homosexual and tells
Catherine that he only wants her to gain US
126.96.36.199.1.2 He tries to get the law involved and is amazed when Alfieri says that nothing can be done.
188.8.131.52.1.3 He tries violence: he 'teaches' Rodolpho to box
as an excuse to hit him, then fights with
Rodolpho when he knows Rodolpho has slept
184.108.40.206.1.4 He calls the Immigration Bureau is a last
desperate attempt to stop the wedding: he
cares so much for Catherine that he is prepared
to break his code of honour.
1.1.6 In the end, he loses everything: Catherine, his
wife, his name. He has no option but to fight
Marco to the death (he has a knife). Ironically,
his death restores some of his lost honour
because he does not try to escape his fate.
1.2 Beatrice Carbone
1.2.1 She is Eddie's wife. She has
never had children of her
own and cares for Catherine
as if she were her own
1.2.2 She is excited by the
imminent arrival of
her cousins and worried
that everything is not
just so for them, yet
1.2.3 She defers to Eddie and
lets him control things in
the home. Before the
arrival of her cousins, she
is anxious not to upset
him: "I'm just worried
1.2.4 There are hints right from the start that she is aware of Eddie's feelings for Catherine, such as
when she avoids Eddie's gaze when Catherine fetches his cigar. This becomes more obvious when
she confronts Eddie about the state of their marriage: "When am I gonna be a wife again, Eddie?"
220.127.116.11 Partly because of this, she supports Catherine and encourages her to be
independent. She helps Catherine persuade Eddie to let Catherine go out to
work and, later, tells Catherine she must stand up for herself. "It means you
gotta be your own self more."
18.104.22.168.1 At the end, she is brave enough to tell Eddie the truth: "You
want somethin' else, Eddie, and you can never have her!"
1.2.5 She is upset by the conflict within
the family that the relationship
between Rodolpho and Catherine
causes. She continually tries to be the
calming influence. At the end,
however, she remains loyal to Eddie,
choosing to stay with him rather
than attend Catherine's wedding. She
is rewarded for this with Eddie's
dying words - "My B!"
1.3.1 She is 17 years old, the orphaned daughter of
Beatrice's sister Nancy. She is attractive,
energetic and cheerful. Yet she is also naive - she
has never known anything of life outside the
Carbone household. She loves Eddie like a father
1.3.2 She wants Eddie's approval for
everything that she does: right at the
start, she is desperate for him to
admire her new skirt.
1.3.3 Beatrice reminds her she is all grown up and that
she has a stronger relationship with Eddie than
Beatrice intended for. She had never before
imagined there was anything wrong with her
relationship with Eddie.
1.3.4 She is excited at Marco and
Rodolpho's arrival - they
represent the world outside her
own sheltered life. She is
attracted to Rodolpho straight
away - so she is reluctant to take
off her high heels when Eddie
tells her to
22.214.171.124 She is initially torn between her
love of Rodolpho or Eddie.
1.3.5 She is loyal to
Eddie and tells
Beatrice that her
Rodolpho would be
wrong if Eddie is
1.3.6 she takes Rodolpho's side when he spars with
Eddie. This helps us to understand later in the
play why she disobey's Eddie wish and gets
married to Rodolpho
126.96.36.199 She is furious with Eddie both for betraying the
brothers and for forbidding Beatrice to attend her
wedding ceremony, calling him "This rat!"
1.3.7 During the play, she turns from a child into a
woman, capable of making her own decisions.
Despite her new independence and maturity, she
blames herself on Eddie's death
1.4.1 Marco is the older brother of Rodolpho. He comes
from a poor village in Sicily. He is Beatrice's cousin. He
has left a wife and three children at home, the oldest of
whom has tuberculosis. He has come to America so he
can earn more money for them than he could at home.
It is clear he loves his family very much: he is near tears
when he first talks about them to the Carbones.
1.4.2 He is anxious not to outstay his
welcome with the Carbones: almost
his first words are "I want to tell you
now, Eddie - when you say we go, we
go." He is extremely polite.
1.4.3 He feels a sense of
responsibility for Rodolpho:
when Eddie is upset that
Catherine and Rodolpho were
out late, he warns his brother
"You come home early now."
1.4.4 He is protective of Rodolpho. After Eddie has
punched Rodolpho while 'teaching' him to box,
he shows how he can lift a chair above his
head with one hand. The stage directions tell
us the chair is raised like a weapon over
Eddie's head. He is warning Eddie that he will
defend Rodolpho if necessary.
1.4.5 His sense of honour is such that if the law can't right a wrong, he will
take the law into his own hands. He comes to see Eddie at the end to do
what he sees as his duty - even when Alfieri had warned him that only
God makes justice. It is interesting that he breaks his word to Alfieri - he
kills Eddie despite having promised he would not.
1.5.1 He is a lawyer, born in Italy, who has been
working in Brooklyn for 25 years. He is part of
the same immigrant Italian community as
1.5.2 He acts as a commentator on the
action: he sets the scene and introduces
the characters. He is telling us the story
of the play in flashback: right from the
start we know that it is going to run a
1.5.3 He is
tries to save Eddie
and, later, Marco,
from the fatal
course that they
have set out on.
1.5.4 When Eddie first goes to see
him, Alfieri warns, there is too
much love for the daughter,
there is too much love for the
1.5.5 When Eddie visits him the second time
to try to prevent Catherine and
Rodolpho's wedding, Alfieri's warning is
more explicit: You won't have a friend in
the world, Eddie.
1.5.6 He tells Marco, Only God makes
justice, trying to prevent Marco from
taking the law into his own hands.
1.5.7 However, really he is powerless to
change what he knows is inevitable.
Even though he can explain the law to
Eddie and Marco, he knows deep down
that they will do what their code of
1.6.1 He is the younger brother of Marco. He has got platinum hair and so makes an immediate
impression. He has striking good looks - Beatrice and Catherine are obviously attracted to him. His
unusual looks may be a signal to us that he is 'different' from the average Italian immigrant.
1.6.2 He has a good sense of humour, so he is popular. He is
unvaryingly polite, even when Eddie is rude.
1.6.3 Unlike Marco, he wants to stay in America and own a motorbike. He loves America and
wants to find out as much about New York as possible - he is keen to see Broadway. Eddie
is concerned because he buys 'American' items like a new jacket and records, rather than
send money to Marco's family.
1.6.4 He can sing, cook and sew: he is very talented. It upsets him that Eddie seems to dislike him so
much - he cannot understand why his 'feminine' skills are a problem for the 'manly' Eddie.
1.6.5 His language is lively and imaginative, which shows his intelligence. For example, later in the play,
he uses the image of Catherine as a bird in a cage.
1.6.6 Catherine falls in love with him almost immediately, and
he with her. Even though Eddie tries to suggest that
Rodolpho only wants to marry Catherine in order to become
a US citizen, it is clear his love is strong and genuine: "You
think I would carry on my back the rest of my life a woman
I didn't love just to be an American?" He speaks very
1.6.7 He argues with Marco to promise not to harm Eddie, so that Marco can be granted bail and attend the
1.6.8 He apologises to Eddie before the wedding and tries to kiss his hand, in an attempt to calm the
1.6.9 He tries to prevent Marco
and Eddie fighting - "No,
Marco, please! Eddie,
please, he has children!"
2 Plot summary
2.1 Act 1a
2.1.1 The play opens with the lawyer Alfieri, who sets
the scene. He talks about justice and how,
sometimes, justice is dealt with outside the law.
He says he has a timeless story to tell - one that
ran a "bloody course" he was powerless to
prevent - and introduces its hero, Eddie Carbone.
188.8.131.52 One day Eddie arrives home from the dockyard where
he works with some news. He announces that
Beatrice's two cousins from Italy have reached New
York and they will arrive at the family's home at 10
o'clock that night. It is obvious that the family has
often discussed the visit before - Beatrice is anxious
that she hasn't completed all the preparations in the
house she had intended to welcome them, and Eddie
reminds Beatrice not to be so kind to the cousins that
he will be turned out of his own bed for them. Yet he
then claims it is an honour for him to be able to help
2.2 Act 1b
2.2.1 Catherine also has some news: she
tells Eddie that she has been picked
out of all the girls in her typing class to
be offered a well-paid job at a big
plumbing company. She is excited at
the prospect, but Eddie is worried: he
doesn't want her mixing with
strangers, wants her to finish her
education and is concerned for her
safety. Beatrice takes Catherine's
side, however, so in the end Eddie
relents and allows Catherine to take
184.108.40.206 Because the cousins are illegal
immigrants, Eddie reminds Beatrice and
Catherine not to mention them outside
the house. To reinforce the danger,
Eddie tells the story of Vinny Bolzano,
who let on to the Immigration
authorities that his family were hiding an
uncle - and the bloody consequences.
2.3 Act 1c
2.3.1 The cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, arrive
and are warmly welcomed. The quiet,
polite Marco reassures Eddie that they will
not outstay their welcome and talks about
his family left behind in Sicily, desperate for
the cash that he will be able to send them
once he starts work. He hopes to go home
in about six years. The cheerful Rodolpho
describes what it is like living in a poor
peasant village: unlike his brother, he wants
to stay in America. Rodolpho shows off his
voice by singing 'Paper Doll', to Catherine's
delight. Eddie puts a stop to the music
because he doesn't want suspicions raised
in the neighbourhood, but we also sense
Eddie's dislike of Rodolpho - his face is
"puffed with trouble."
2.4 Act 1D
2.4.1 A few weeks later, Eddie and Beatrice
sit waiting for Catherine and
Rodolpho to come home from the
cinema. It is clear that Rodolpho and
Catherine have fallen in love. Eddie's
hostility towards Rodolpho is now
more open and he is anxious -
Beatrice jokes that he must to
jealous of Rodolpho. She admires
Rodolpho and hope that he and
Catherine will marry, but Eddie is
appalled by this idea. This
conversation leads Beatrice to ask
Eddie about the state of their own
marriage: they have not made love
for months. Eddie refuses to discuss
220.127.116.11 When Catherine and Rodolpho finally
return, Eddie asks to speak to Catherine
alone. He repeats, wistfully, that she has
grown up without his realising it. When
she admits to liking Rodolpho, Eddie
tells her that Rodolpho is only using her
and that he just wants to marry an
American to gain US citizenship.
Catherine is very upset. She admits
privately to Beatrice that she loves
Rodolpho and wants to marry him, but
that she doesn't want to hurt Eddie.
Beatrice advises her to be more
independent and grown up, and less
intimate with Eddie in the house.
2.5 Act 1e
2.5.1 Eddie goes to see Alfieri, wanting the
law to step in to stop Catherine
marrying Rodolpho. He claims that
Rodolpho is only doing it to gain a US
passport, and that Rodolpho is
homosexual. Eddie is amazed when
Alfieri explains that no law can prevent
the marriage. Alfieri hints that perhaps
Eddie loves Catherine too much (over
and beyond the caring, uncle-niece love
which could be expected), to which
Eddie reacts angrily.
18.104.22.168 There is tension in the air when we next
see Eddie, Beatrice, Catherine, Marco
and Rodolpho at home together. Eddie
makes barbed comments, implying that
Rodolpho is too friendly with Catherine
and too casual with his money. He
pretends to admire the fact that
Rodolpho can cook, sew and sing, before
adding that it is wrong for someone
with those skills to work at the docks.
He offers to treat Rodolpho and Marco
to a night watching a prize-fight and
teaches Rodolpho to box. This is clearly
just an excuse to punch Rodolpho, but
Rodolpho takes it good-humouredly.
Catherine shows that she is more
interested in Rodolpho's safety than
Eddie's. Marco shows off his own
strength to Eddie by lifting a chair by its
leg with one hand - a feat that Eddie
2.6 Act 2a
2.6.1 Catherine and Rodolpho are alone in the apartment for the first time. Catherine is
sombre. She asks Rodolpho if they could live in Italy when they are married, but he
claims it would be ridiculous to go back to such poverty. He does reassure her that he is
not going to marry her just to gain US citizenship, however. She says that she doesn't
want to hurt Eddie. When he has comforted her, they go into the bedroom. Eddie
returns, drunk, and is aghast to see Rodolpho follow Catherine out of the bedroom. He
tells Rodolpho to leave immediately; Catherine says that she will go too, but Eddie
grabs her and kisses her. When Rodolpho protests, saying Catherine is going to be his
wife, Eddie kisses him too. The men fight, "like animals".
22.214.171.124 Four days later, Eddie returns to Alfieri and tells him what happened. Marco has
not been told of the fight. Alfieri reiterates that there is nothing Eddie or the law
can do to prevent the wedding. He advises Eddie to let the couple marry, warning
him that there could be awful consequences if he didn't. Yet Eddie ignores Alfieri's
words and telephones the Immigration Bureau, anonymously, to betray the
cousins. When Eddie returns home, he finds that Marco and Rodolpho have moved
upstairs to a neighbour's apartment. There is a tense conversation with Beatrice -
she is very angry with him. Beatrice tells Eddie that Catherine and Rodolpho are
going to get married next week, ironically because Catherine is afraid that the
authorities will catch up with the brothers. She tries to get Eddie - who has tears in
his eyes - to agree to come to the wedding and, when Catherine comes in, Beatrice
encourages Catherine to ask Eddie herself. Catherine refuses to listen to Eddie's
suggestion that it is
2.7 Act 2b
2.7.1 When Eddie discovers that Marco and Rodolpho are lodged with
two other illegal immigrants upstairs, he becomes concerned and
warns that they will be less safe from the authorities there. He is
obviously regretting the call he made to the Immigration Bureau,
but it is too late - two officers arrive. It is clear that Beatrice and
Catherine immediately suspect that Eddie was the informer. As
the officers lead Marco, Rodolpho and the two other immigrants
away, Catherine pleads with the men to spare Rodolpho and Marco
spits in Eddie's face. Eddie shouts out that he'll kill Marco; Marco
retorts that Eddie has stolen food from his children. Eddie protests
that he is innocent, but all the neighbours turn away from him.
The honour of both Eddie and Marco is now at stake. We next see
Marco and Rodolpho and Catherine with Alfieri's in the reception
room of the prison: Alfieri needs a promise from Marco that he
will not kill Eddie as a condition of bail. Marco is reluctant, feeling
that Eddie shou
2.8 Act 2c
2.8.1 It is the day of the wedding. Beatrice gets dressed in her
best clothes, but Eddie tells her that if she goes, he won't
let her back into the house. Catherine is angry, calling
Eddie a rat. When Rodolpho arrives to take Catherine to the
church, he says that Marco is at the church, praying. Eddie's
fury rises: he wants to get even with Marco, for ruining his
good name in the neighbourhood. Beatrice tries to calm
him, telling him that the reason he is angry is because he
is about to lose Catherine for ever - but this truth fires
Eddie up even more. Marco arrives, calling Eddie's name.
Eddie goes to meet him in the street and demands a public
apology. Instead, Marco calls him an "animal". Eddie draws
a knife but Marco is able to grip Eddie's wrist and turn the
knife on Eddie himself. Eddie dies in Beatrice's arms.
Alfieri closes the play, commenting on how useless Eddie's
death was, and on how much he admired him for allowing
himself to be "wholly known."