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Consider the ending as one of the best examples of how the film repudiates violence. The physical confrontation between Friendly and Terry does not accomplish anything. It shows the savagery and brutality of the characters, but neither end is advanced through violence. Terry is able to beat up Friendly, but his goons end up pulverizing Terry. Friendly's control is not substantiated through violence, as it does not strike fear or ensure that the people on the the dock watching recoil in terror. In the end, the conclusion of the film does not demonstrate that there is success in violence. The fact that the ending shows neither side able to accomplish much of anything through violence helps to bring out how the film does not condone violence. If anything, it repudiates it. The repudiation of violence is seen in the ending when it is through the solidarity of the other workers that success is seen. This solidarity is not a violent one and is not one that is brought out through violence, but rather through empathy. Terry's claim that he is glad he did what he did is something that awakens the conscience of the workers. This is not done through violence, or else they would have helped him at that moment. Rather, it is done through reflection and personal analysis, making the acceptance of Terry something that has been brought about not through violence but understanding. It is here where violence is not condoned, but rather repudiated by the film.
Another specific scene which that suggests that On The Waterfront repudiates violence occurs in the saloon when Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is waiting for Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) with a gun, intending to kill him for killing his brother. (Terry's brother gave him the gun in the taxi scene and told him, "You're going to need it.") Father O'Malley (Karl Malden) shows up at the saloon and convinces Terry that he can hurt Friendly and his thugs a lot more by testifying before the commission that is investigating union racketeering on the waterfront. (In effect, the priest is telling him that the truth is superior to violence.) In the long run it is Terry's testimony that destroys Friendly, although Terry has to go through a period of ostracism for failing to remain D&D. Brando and Malden were two of the best movie actors of the period, and this confrontation between their two characters in the saloon is classic.
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