1945: long Beach, ny
Bonasera: i believe in america. america has
made my fortune. and i raised my daughter in
the american fashion. i gave her freedom, but
i taught her never to dishonor her family. She
found a boyfriend—not an italian. She went to
The great want in family life that strikes me is
this, that there are so few tête-à-têtes. You live
on from year’s end to year’s end, surrounded by
those whom you love, and chatting together;
but it is rare to be thrown alone with any
one individual and have really intimate talk
with him or her. Yet the difference in value
is immense between mere social chat and
that mingling of mind with mind, which is
impossible if others are by. But the real fact is,
that unless some effort is made for it, or unless
circumstances are unusually favorable, the very
members of the same family live, one might say,
on parallel lines, without ever touching.
—Charles Buxton, 1873
the movies with him; she stayed out late. i didn’t
protest. two months ago, he took her for a drive,
with another boyfriend. They made her drink
whiskey, and then…they tried…to take advantage of her. She resisted; she kept her honor. So
they beat her—like an animal. When i went to
the hospital, her nose was a-broken, her jaw was
a-shattered—held together by wire. She couldn’t
even weep because of the pain. But i wept. Why
did i weep? She was the light of my life. Beautiful girl. now she will never be beautiful again.
Sorry. i—i went to the police, like a good american. These two boys were brought to trial. The
judge sentenced them to three years in prison,
and suspended the sentence. Suspended the sentence! They went free that very day! i stood in
the courtroom like a fool, and those two bastards, they smiled at me. Then i said to my wife,
“for justice, we must go to don Corleone.”
Don Corleone: Why did you go to the police?
Why didn’t you come to me first?
Bonasera: What do you want of me? tell me
anything, but do what i beg you to do.
Don Corleone: What is that?
[Bonasera rises and whispers in the Don’s ear.]
Bonasera: i want them dead.
Don Corleone: That i cannot do.
Bonasera: i will give you anything you ask.
Don Corleone: [strokes a cat in his lap] We’ve
known each other many years, but this is the
first time you ever came to me for counsel
or for help. i can’t remember the last time
that you invited me to your house for a cuppa
coffee, even though my wife is godmother to
your only child. But let’s be frank here. you
never wanted my friendship, and you were
afraid to be in my debt.
Bonasera: i didn’t want to get into trouble.
Don Corleone: i understand. you found paradise
in america. you had a good trade, you made
a good living, the police protected you, and
there were courts of law—and you didn’t need
a friend like me. But now you come to me and
you say, “don Corleone, give me justice.” But
you don’t ask with respect; you don’t offer friendship; you don’t even think to call me Godfather.
instead, you come into my house on the day my
daughter’s to be married and you ask me to do
Bonasera: i ask you for justice.
Don Corleone: That is not justice; your daughter’s still alive.
Bonasera: let them suffer, then—as she suffers.
How much shall i pay you?