1 A VFTB is a play based on the fight for justice through morals of the Italian community and the American laws. The play speaks of honour through Eddie’s character and to some extent Catherine’s character, but it is also focused on passion: passion for a new life. Also, in the course of this passion betrayal is shown through Eddie and Catherine.
In VFTB, the morals of the Italian community are portrayed as the morals of life within Red Hook, but especially through Eddie. Eddie is the tragic hero of the play, whose incestuous love for Catherine leads him to losing his “name”. It is in the final scenes of the play, specifically act 2, where Eddie’s honour is lost because of his own selfish ways in the call he made to the Immigration Bureau, to report Rodolfo and Marco. The consequences of being a self-interested man are brought into focus at the end of act 2 where Marco degrades Eddie in front of the whole neighbourhood by “spitting in his face”. At this moment, the honour of Eddie had as a “man” in the community is lost because he went against the morals of the Italian community, which he spoke highly of in Act 1 and, therefore, I believe, to some extent this honour was rightfully taken because he did not listen to Beatrice or Alfieri and, instead, acted as an “Anima-a-a-al” by “ratting out” on the cousins. However, although the play focuses on the Italian moral code, Eddie actually did something which was lawfully right regarding the American law of immigration, therefore although we are focused to believe that the Italian code is just, in actual fact Eddie’s honour should be intact as he has done something legal. Therefore, although Eddie is deprived of his honour by Marco even earlier n at the end of act 1 as he “raised the chair like a weapon over Eddie’s head” symbolising his loss of honour as the alpha-male and, instead a trophy for Marco’s victory, in the end Eddie did something that was legal and therefore should be seen with greater honour.
Passion is another major theme in the play but is shown in different ways throughout the play. The most obvious passion is Eddie’s passion for Catherine but also more importantly, Rodolfo’s passion for work in America.
The American Dream is clearly portrayed in Rodolfo whose “only” reason to come to America was “work …. and nothing else”. It is his passion for becoming an American citizen which make Catherine cautious in her urge and desperation that Rodolfo is only with her for his “green card”, however Rodolfo reassures her in saying that although this is his ultimate passion, he is not using her as his vehicle to get him there. Thus, passion is a theme that is predominant in the play, as Rodolfo’s amazement and wondrous thoughts of visiting Brooklyn show that it is something that he lives for and ultimately it is the only thing he wants. Therefore, passion is something that encapsulates the play with all the characters in search for some passion.
Also, betrayal is another theme in VFTB, with it being a result of conflict and discord, as we see through Beatrice. Beatrice plays a woman’s role in the play representing the traditional generation of the Italian community, in her playing her role we, as an audience, see the betrayal she faces when Eddie finds love in Catherine.
Beatrice tries to get Eddie back by telling him he is fighting for something “he can never have” and therefore it is pointless in betraying her. Also, she asks Eddie, “When am I going to be a wife again?” suggesting that she has lost their sexual relationship, and therefore been betrayed as a wife due to being deprived of the right to have sex.
However, Beatrice suggests that this betrayal is a cause of his incestuous attraction to Catherine and thus believes that it is also partially Catherine’s fault that she has lost the physical interaction in their relationship and therefore does not see it as betrayal but instead unfortunate destiny. 17
2 I agree, to an extent. I