Discuss the reasons that contribute to Vito Corleone's different roles.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Vito Corelone's character is developed as one that represents a sense of pragmatism and flexibility to his conditions and being in the world.  Puzo does not make Vito an absolutist, possessing a set philosophy that has to be enacted before any assessment of conditions is present.  Consistent with the immigrant of the time period, Vito is pragmatic to understand his conditions and respond to them.  His entry into America was one that was dictated by external conditions, and through this, Vito has to end up learning how to function.  Practicality becomes critical to this.  It is through this that Vito ends up learning how to embrace the life of the mafia as well as how to ensure that his interests are always represented and not manipulated.  This enables him to assume a role of power in this new setting.  At the same time, Vito understands how to ensure that people will always remain in "his debt" or in a condition that enables him to work through them in a sense where they will be loyal, forced or sincere, to Vito.  This helps him gain the role of power that defines his sense of character.  Both of these elements can be seen as possessing some level of tension.  Yet, where Vito is able to remain in control of these is through a sense of wisdom and benevolence.  This becomes one of the most essential reasons that Vito is able to embrace and embody the roles of both ruthless mafia boss and a force towards which people feel loyaltyy.  Vito is able to guide his decisions with a sense of prudence, moderation, and skill that allows him to represent a role of benevolent dictator, as opposed to brutal force of destruction.  This is where Vito's roles end up emerging in their strongest form.

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The Godfather

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