The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Puzo presents characters through raw action and dialogue rather than psychological analysis, introspection, or literary mannerisms. Some characters are roundly and subtly developed; others are relatively static.

Vito Corleone emerges as a mythic figure of superhuman proportions. He defines an ethnic ideal whose achievements mirror the might of a nation. As the novel unfolds, he suffers a reversal of fortune, yet he remains a static character whose personality, morals, and wisdom are unchanged by events. Throughout, he is the touchstone by which other characters may be assessed.

The flashback to his youth shows that he fell into crime not through degeneracy or psychosis but almost unwittingly, by helping a friend to hide a sack that was later found to contain guns. Even his murder of the extortionist proceeds from his sure sense of justice.

Michael, on the other hand, is a roundly conceived character who undergoes significant change as he seeks and finds his authentic self. In youth he is considered effete and aloof, too naïve to enter the family business. Others in the family are troubled by his going to college and into military service; they do not identify with such institutions of legitimate society as he does. The attack on his father, though, steels Michael’s character. He finds the courage to save his family. His return to the homeland enables him to appreciate his father’s way of life, and he embraces his ethnic...

(The entire section is 436 words.)

The Godfather Characters

Most of the characters of The Godfather are so fitted to the demands of the novel's action that whatever contours they possess are...

(The entire section is 401 words.)

The Godfather Character Analysis

The Godfather Michael Corleone

Michael is the focus of this novel, the character that undergoes the most severe change. In the beginning, he is distant from the family's...

(The entire section is 324 words.)

The Godfather Don Vito Corleone

Vito Corleone is the novel's title character, the most powerful person in organized crime in America. He arrived in America at age twelve,...

(The entire section is 408 words.)

The Godfather Johnny Fontane

Johnny Fontane actually is Vito Corleone's godson, and so the Don has a special fondness for him. He is a successful singer at the start of...

(The entire section is 221 words.)

The Godfather Other Characters

Kay Adams
Kay is Michael Corleone's college sweetheart, a Protestant girl from New Hampshire whose upbringing is distinctly...

(The entire section is 1617 words.)