lative activit}’, that ought to be immune to the sentiment andrnbonds of honor imported by Michael. To Michael, however,rnattacks on him, his family, and his dependents must bernavenged, as was the case also with his father, who returned tornSicily some forty years after the murder of his own family to takernvengeance on the Mafia Don who killed them.rn. . . Only Roth’s death will confirm Michael’s victory and removerna still dangerous enemy. Fredo is a living liabilit)’ and isrntoo stupid and weak to be trusted under any circumstances.rnPcntangeli knows too much and has been prevented from incriminahngrnMichael only by pressure against his brother; herntoo is too dangerous to be allowed to live. In each case,rnMichael’s insistence on their executions is, from the point ofrnview of the Corleone power interests and from that of the moralrncode of the Gemeinschaft, logically essential and nrorally unobjectionable.rnThe bloodbath and Michael’s isolation at the endrnof Part II are confirmations not of the corruption and arrogancernof power but of the inexorable logic of power—only by beingrnstrong for his family could Michael hope to preserve his family,rnbut by being strong for it, he destroyed it. That was his tragedy,rnas it is the tragedy of human society. Power is not only necessaryrnto the functioning of society, as Machiavelli taught;rnit also possesses a relentless logic that eventually eats up itselfrnas it irresistibly converts Gemeinschaft into Gesellschaft andrnturns the consensual and deferential social bonds of the formerrninto the coercive commands and cash relationships of modernit)’.rnIndeed, the seeds oi Gesellschaft and its corruption are alreadyrnpresent in the book and Part I. For all of Vito Corleone’s invocationsrnof the sacred obligations of family and friendship, byrnthe end of the novel virtually the whole family has been killedrnthrough treachery. Carlo Rizzi shamelessly cheats on and beatsrnhis wife, Connie Corleone, and sets up the nrurder of his brother-rnin-law Santino. Santino also cheats on his wife, and Fredo inrnthe book sides with Moe Greene against Michael. Santino isrnmanipulated into being set up for assassination precisely becausernhe takes the family too seriously. He wants vengeance forrnthe attack on his father and Carlo’s beating of his sister, and hernrushes blindly into the trap contrived for him. Wlien Tessio isrnled off to execution for his own betrayal of the family, he tellsrnHagen to assure Michael his treason was nothing personal.rn”Tell Mike it was only business; I always liked him.”rnUltimately, as Michael knows, it is always “only business”;rnthe temptations oi Gesellschaft and modernization, power, business,rnmoney, and survival are always stronger than the bonds ofrnGemeinschaft, honor, loyalty, and family. When Tessio’srntreachery is discovered, Hagen tells Michael he was surprised;rnhe always thought it would have been Clcmenza who betrayedrnhim. No, says Michael, “Tessio was always smarter.” It is notrnsmart to put your faith in Gemeinschaft because it does not last.rn”All our people are businessmen,” Michael tells Hagen in PartrnII. “TJieir loyalties are based on thaf “rnUltimately, then, the apparent distinction between thernGemeinschaft symbolized by the family and the Gesellschaft ofrnmodcrnit)’ symbolized by normal or legitimate American societ-rnbreaks down, and perhaps it is Michael who is naive after all,rnwith the naivete of the tragic hero who trusts in something thatrnis foreign to the nature of man. For all the contrast between legitimaternand criminal societ)’, at last, when die final mask is tornrnoff, there is no difference at all; the Corleone family is based onrnfraud as well as force, and it does indeed melt into and becomernindistinguishable from America.rnThe Godfather offers a powerfully pessimistic (some mightrneven say cynical) view of man and societ}’ fiiat slaps in the facernthe pleasanter views characteristic of modernist ideologiesrndrawn from the doctrine of progress and especially the favoriternAmerican myth that through assimilation into the institutionalrnenvironment offered by the democratic capitalism of the AmericanrnGesellschaft, human beings can be perfected and force andrnfraud as enduring and omnipresent elements of social existencerncan be escaped…. Neitiier Gemeinschaft nor Gesellschaft offerrnany hope of a secular salvation, any safe resolution of man’s fate,rnand the Machiavellian portrayal of religion in both book andrnfilms seems to hold out little hope of any other kind of salvationrneither.rnBut not quite. Wlien Kay marries Michael, she notices thatrnMama Corleone, a very minor character in the book, goes tornchurch everyday. The Protestant Kay asks her why she does so.rn”‘I go for my husband,’ she pointed down toward the floor, ‘sornhe don’t go down there.’ She paused. ‘I say prayers for his soulrnevery day so he go up there.'” It is one of only two passages inrneither the book or the first two films that suggests the utility of religionrnfor something other than a mask as well as one of the fewrnpassages that hints at the realit)’ of the evil of Don Corleone,rnthough it also suggests the secular necessity of men like him andrnMichael. Mama Corleone knows full well what her husband is,rnand she also knows she can do nothing to change him or the dependencernof her world on hinr, and at his death in Part I, the oldrnDon is playing with his grandson by putting an orange peel inrnhis mouth and pretending to be a monster, a game that revealsrnat last another and equally true dimension of his character. .. .rnKay herself comes to perceive the evil of the realit)’ her husbandrnrepresents at the end of the book and of Part I of the filmsrnand also to recognize and accept it in the same way as the oldrnMrs. Corleone. Seeing Michael being saluted by his vassals asrnthe new Don, what occurs to Kay is the metaphor of Rome, andrnthereby she herself confirms the truth of the parallel betweenrnnormal and criminal societ)’.rnKay could see how Michael stood to receive theirrnhomage. He reminded her of statues in Rome, statues ofrnthose Roman emperors of antiquity, who, by divine right,rnheld the power of life and death over their fellow men.rnOne band was on his hip, the profile of his face showed arncold proud power, his body was carelessly, arrogantly atrnease, weight resting on one foot slightiy behind the other.rnAnd hence, the other, and final, sceire of the book that suggestsrnthat religion has a meaning other than as a mask. Thernbook concludes with Kay, having converted to Catholicism afterrnshe learns of her husband’s role in the murder of Carlo Rizzirnand of the true nature of his “business,” in church at Mass, “sayingrnthe necessary prayers for the soul of Michael Corfeone.” IfrnMichael is tiie new Don, Kay, representing the normal or legitimaternsociety of America, has become the new Madonna Corleone,rnaccepting the realit)’ of what her husband represents andrnrecognizing in her “necessary prayers” the dreadful dualit)’ ofrnthe evil tiiat men do and the equally dreadful necessity’ for evenrnsuch innocent children of tiie American Gesellschaft as KayrnAdams to see it, to accept tiieir dependence on it, to unite withrnit, and finally to pray for those who act out tiic tragedy it demands.rnJULY 2001/19rnrnrn