In On The Waterfront, what does Father Barry's crucifixion speech mean?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Father Barry's speech regarding the death of Jesus is to bring to light how being silent is a form of guilt.  In his speech, Father Barry suggests that it was the silence of the public that enabled the Romans to crucify Jesus in such an easy manner.  Through this, Father Barry makes the argument that being silent is a form of empowering the aggressor and thereby increases the moral culpability of those on the docks: 

And anybody who sits around and lets it happen- keeps silent about something he knows has happened- shares the guilt of it just as much as the Roman soldier who pierced the flesh of Our Lord to see if He was dead.

In constructing the moral dynamic in this manner, Father Barry makes it clear that being silent to injustice is not much different than those who actually committed the actions that bring about injustice.  The workers on the dock who are "D and D" are actually responsible for their predicament and for creating the Mob to be as tough as they are.  Father Barry's speech is meant to tug at the moral consciences of the workers on the dock, to inspire them to see how things should be as opposed to how they are.

 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,994 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question