How has the Corleone family helped their community?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the justifications made by those in films about the mafia is the idea that organized crime operations serve as local enforcement agencies for the community.  In an ethnic community, where there might exist a healthy, if not justified, fear of the police and law enforcement agencies, the mob is seen as the force that makes good what these agencies cannot.  The case of Buonasera the undertaker might be a one such instance.  He opens the film with his belief that "I believe in America."  He sought to make a good life for himself and his family in the new world.  When his daughter is assaulted, he seeks justice, and goes through the legitimate channels of the police and courts, which do not give him the sense of closure he seeks.  "For justice," he says to his wife, "we must go to Don Corelone."  In this instance, one can see how the Corlelone family is seen by their community:  As agents of action that can help to provide a sense of power when this feeling cannot be experienced through the legitimate channel.  The same narrative is seen with Enzo, the baker.  In both of these situations, the Corleone family is seen as a source of power both within the community and for it.

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The Godfather

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