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Freedom is mentioned in a number of different passages in Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather, but one of the most intriguing of these references occurs on pages 202-03 of the “New American Library Essentials” edition. (The word “liberty,” a synonym for "freedom," apparently occurs nowhere in the book.)
In the passage just mentioned, the narrator describes how Don Corleone had achieved the nickname of “the Godfather.” During the Great Depression, many people could not find work and were desperate to provide for their families because of the extremely high rate of unemployment. The Godfather helped free them from this kind of economic desperation, because he provided them with jobs that paid well and that also gave them self-respect. He allowed them to be free, then, both from economic want and from social humiliation. He helped free them and their families from poverty:
He had not failed those who depended on him and gave him the sweat of their brows, risked their freedom and their lives in his service. And when an employee of his was arrested and sent to prison by some mischance, that unfortunate man’s family received a living allowance; and not a miserly, beggarly, begrudging pittance but the same amount the man earned when free.
Thus the freedom provided by The Godfather was, to a great extent, economic freedom as well as freedom from worry, freedom from the loss of self-respect, and freedom from concern for one’s family when one could not provide for them oneself. Even when an “employee” was no longer physically free (because of being imprisoned), the Godfather could and did provide these other kinds of freedoms.
The narrator thus helps explain why the Godfather inspired so much loyalty in the men who worked for him: he provided them with a wide variety of freedoms, and the desire for freedoms (of some sort) seems to be one of the most compelling impulses of all people everywhere.
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