As the play opens, Eddie is a sympathetic character. Though he remains somewhat sympathetic to the very end, his behavior, his moral standing, and his persona all suffer a fall. Eddie becomes more a vehicle for pathos than sympathy.
When the audience is introduced to Eddie, he is a caring man taking care of his family, willing to raise an adopted niece and to harbor two cousins who are immigrating from Italy. These generous impulses quickly degenerate into selfish impulses however, even in the opening scene as Eddie doles out heavy-handed advice to Catherine.
Eddie's greedy and improper affections for Catherine become clear over the course of the play, yet Eddie's attempts to find an acceptable way out of his predicament suggest that he is still not a bad person.
Eddie visits Alfieri, the lawyer, seeking some legal protection for his family.
He wants to free himself of his conflict by finding a way to avoid it.
This weakness in his character eventually comes to dominate, rendering Eddie a pathetic character in the eyes of the audience, powerless over his own passions and impulses.
Ultimately, it is not Eddie's feelings for Catherine that will characterize the view the audience holds of him. His morally low actions regarding Rodolpho (and Marco) become the final comment.
In desperation, Eddie places the call to the immigration office, an act he soon comes to regret.
This act effectively removes Eddie from a position allowing real or pure sympathy from the audience and places him instead in a position of pathos. The audience is sorry for him in the end, but would not imagine doing what Eddie has done.