The Godfather (The Godfather, #1) The Godfather discussion


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Racist and sexist

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message 1: by Lisa (last edited Oct 18, 2016 02:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa am I the only one who thinks this book glorifies racism and sexism?


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Oct 23, 2016 08:41AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks Unfortunately, no you are probably not. But that's because a growing number of people out there lately have minds of mush.
There are simply far too many ninnies, simps, and dunderheads out there who just don't grasp what racism and sexism actually are. Much less are they able to correctly identify any instances where they even might be observing it. And --just like you are doing right now--they go around 'pointing fingers' and trying to rake up blame where none is deserved. So no, don't worry. You're far from alone. Rather, the contrary is true. People with genuine thinking skills --free-thinkers, critical thinkers, unslaved to media--these are the social segments becoming isolated and scarce.


Lisa I do have examples of the racism and sexism in this book, not that it's worth pointing out to you, who doesn't even know me and yet has judged me and used insulting words to try and patronise me. You are rude and immature and incapable of having a reasonable debate.


message 4: by Feliks (last edited Oct 23, 2016 09:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks I don't have to know you personally to determine--from your original question--that you are on the wrong path.

On the contrary. Your initial question quite clearly indicates a line of shoddy thinking, a wifty 'accusation' which is so very simplistic from start to finish; so childish at all points throughout, that it doesn't deserve anyone's respect. Least of all, mine. It's not that I'm ignoring it, it's that it is so badly-formed in the first place that it doesn't even need any further explication from you.

It's as if a 4-yr old child were to stand up in a kindergarten class and assure a teacher that he can demonstrate why the sky is blue; yet he is too young to have even had a single class in science. Thus, whatever he describes from his standpoint is irrelevant.

It just doesn't matter whatever 'examples from the book' you believe you can cite, they're bound to be ineptly drawn because your whole premise in hunting them is wrong. Asking your question as you did in the first place hints at an infantile view of human nature, and a deep unfamiliarity with sociology, history, and literature.

Furthermore, you're the one being 'insulting'. You're insulting not only the author, but all the readers of the book who ever enjoyed the work, all the critics who ever praised it; and intelligent people among the reading public in general. You're making an insinuation that our whole society --anyone admiring this very popular book--were somehow remiss, blind, and un-recognizant as to something 'foul' contained within its pages. It's an asinine platform to take up.

What, do you honestly believe that millions of readers (prior to your very late arrival on the scene) never worried or fretted about racism or sexism in their reading material? You think we were inattentive? Neglectful? We overlooked deep-rooted issues of 'fairness' in this world-famous novel? We waited all these yrs in ignorance and darkness towards social equity until at long last, you finally come along to post your silly website comment and "bring us all to our senses"? No one in the 'Godfather' audience--millions of people all over the world--ever truly scrutinized this novel for its stance on equality? Is that really what you presume? This is what you're implying...and it is nothing else but sheer, preposterous vanity on your part.

Let me inform you of something really, really fundamental here. Let me apprise you of a very basic fact of American history. During the 1960s and 1970s American society was in an *uproar* over social issues. There was a furor going on, there was social upheaval. When it comes to 'racism', there were marches and parades and riots; when it comes to 'sexism' there were women in the streets yanking off their bras and burning them in public! The fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, *raged* during the 1970s. That is the era in which this novel was written. 'The Godfather' was published during a high-water mark of American activism and social consciousness (an era which dwarfs the 'PC policing' of today).

So, your question is disingenuous to begin with; it indicates you know nothing of the timeperiod in which the book even came-into-being at all. It indicates you live in a vacuum, a modern fishbowl. Just think about it. Do you believe that author Mario Puzo somehow snuck in --under everyone's radar at the time-- to pen a world-famous ethnic novel that exhibited gross, latent inequality and that..no one even noticed??? We didn't notice at the time, nor in all the yrs since?

Isn't it much more likely that you simply don't know what constitutes the grounds for racism and sexism in the first place?

Another extremely simple observation which your theory (hilariously) fails to consider: Mario Puzo himself, is an Italian-American. His novel is about Italian-Americans. So in what way is his writing about his own people, 'racist'? How could it possibly be? In what way does he set out to treat his own people with unfairness? Why is it that his own people never spoke out against his representations?

Again: isn't it much more likely that you are simply uninformed? Isn't it much more likely that you simply know far too little about the Immigrant experience in America? Isn't it much more likely that you don't know anything about the history of organized crime? Isn't it much more likely that you know nothing about Mario Puzo nor his real-life experiences and personal acquaintances from which he drew the materials which make this novel truthful?

Sheeesh. I've seen some clueless readers on this website--but only the very worst of them do just as you are doing here--utterly befuddled as to the facts, yet, clambering up on a soapbox 'for the good of the rest of us'. You're a dilettante! You 'piddle around on the www' from the safety of your cozy armchair, but you've never pursued any kind of personal activism of any kind. And you never will.

Get your facts straight before you go around 'waving flags' and 'pointing-fingers'. You've embarrassed yourself by speaking up with such misguided aims.


Lisa Seems like a longwinded way of saying you don't understand my question.. I was taking about the Italians being racist towards black people in this book, and about how it glorifies this racism..


Lisa And how the Italians portrayed in this book treat women, yes there was sexism at the time but this book doesn't just show you it flaunts it and tries to make it look justified


Shalini Biswas There was racism as well as sexism, but then this book was written to be a reflection (sort of) of how the Italian Mafia,particularly how the Corleone Family viewed the world and they did NOT have a high regard for anyone who wasn't "Sicilian" or women for that matter.


Lisa Yes, that's true but I also felt that it glamorised those beliefs.. because the Godfather was portrayed as all wise and powerful


Scott Kinkade Feliks, calling someone a dunderhead for asking a valid question just shows how close-minded and judgmental you are.


message 10: by Lisa (last edited Nov 25, 2016 03:37PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Exactly. Thanks, Scott.


message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 22, 2017 02:09PM) (new)

It's been a while since I read this, and while I can't remember any specific instances of racism, i am sure there are some. Whether this is down to the time it was written (when unfortunately such things were deemed acceptable) or just the author portraying what the Mafia were like I can't say.

Is the book sexist? Absolutely. There were times when I couldn't believe what I was reading.


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Yes, and I don't have any problem with it just showing how things were.. that makes it more real but it actually seems to try and justify and glorify racism and sexism


message 13: by Rick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rick The book doesn't glorify racism or sexism any more than it does violence or criminals in general; it's just telling a story about an ethnic people from a time in history without glossing over the facts or trying to white wash them. These were a racist, sexist, violent people portrayed as such. Would you have them "clean up" Twelve Years a Slave so the three or four people that think slavery was/is a good thing will not like it more?


message 14: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa No of course not.. but 12 Years a Slave does not glorify the racism.. The Godfather does


STEPHEN MACPHERSON The Godfather novel has been given legitimacy because the film has become such a classic. In fact, when Francis Ford Coppola first read the book, he was appalled by its content. However, he found the story of family overwhelming and decided to focus on that aspect of the book. The book was originally intended as a cheap, pulp paperback, and Puzo never intended it to be anything but.


STEPHEN MACPHERSON Yesterday, I saw the 45th anniversary edition of the movie based on The Godfather by Mario Puzo. The movie has, in my opinion, elevated the novel to classic status, though the novel is pure pulp fiction. My question: Can you think of other movies that have elevated the position of the books they are based on?


message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Yes I see that.. I can't think of any others off the top of my head..... still doesn't make the racism in this acceptable


Amber The book doesn't take the point of view of being racist or sexist. It's from an omniscient point of view. I don't think that we are supposed to glorify the characters. Sonny used to be a nice guy and then he changed when he started killing people. The godfather started out just helping out his neighbors. Michael was nothing like his family and rejected them, until he couldn't anymore because he loved his father-- like a normal son. From what I remember of the racism it was talking about the "negros in harlem" and how this one black guy had cut up a woman and a 12 year old girl and so the police officer who ended up being the "new luca" shot the guy and couldn't be a police officer anymore. It wasn't telling us the author's POV but the POV of that character. The sexism is also the POV of the characters. The only woman it really hones in on is Kay and her transition from new england girl and not believing that Michael was capable of murder, to praying for his soul in the last lines of the book. I think the style reminds me the most of john steinback with his camera lens, only it's a lot of close-ups of different characters. I wouldn't say the book promotes racism or sexism though, anymore than it does joining the mafia. They know they are doing violent and wrong things and that they are probably going to hell-- hence the going to church and praying for souls at the end.


message 19: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa I know it's from the characters perspective but I think the godfather himself is very much portrayed as a hero in this book and so his viewpoints on women and other races are glorified


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast It has been a long time since I read it, but I never thought that it glorified racism or sexism. When somebody glorifies something they are either explicitly or figuratively promoting their beliefs. The Godfather has characters that can be perceived as racist and sexist, but that does not mean it is glorifying racism or sexism. It also has murder, and organized crime, but does that mean it is glorifying violence and criminal behavior. No its just a story that uses these elements to keep it controversial, because controversy makes a good story.

Now to provide an clear cut example of something that does glorify racism, look at the Turner Diaries. That book explicitly glorifies racism, and white nationalism. It is obvious that the author is a bigot, and the book is also held up by bigots as a must-read.

The Godfather is in no way promoting racism the way Turner Diaries does, not even a little bit. It just has racism and sexism in it, because Mafioso are generally portrayed as racist and sexist.


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast I think you are just focused on the offensiveness of racism and sexism and how it relates to you. Would you get this offended about the racism in To Kill a Mockingbird? Or Huckleberry Finn? Yeah, racism and sexism are offensive and controversial realities of our society. But unfortunately, they have also existed in large parts of our society for a long periods of time, and still do today. And generally when an author uses those subjects in stories its not to promote or glorify, but to push to the forefront of the minds of readers so that we can challenge our morality. I'm not putting The Godfather on the pedestal with War and Peace, or Brothers Karamazov, but in a way they are all reflections on society in a specific time and place.


message 22: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa I don't have anything against racism in a book. It exists, I don't want sugar coated fakery but the godfather himself is held up like god in this book so how can you say his views are not therefore glorified? If he himself is?


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast He is a fictional character. If I look at the history of mafia bosses, I don't think I could find a Don Vito Corleone. The purpose of his views are to drive a narrative where he is the patriarch. Yeah he is held to higher standards, I guess you can call them that, but he is not really a hero. If anything he is more an anti-hero, striving for better way of life, but constantly pushed to betray his own morality. I know he didn't want Michael to be involved in the business, and he also didn't want the mafia families to get involved in selling heroin. But those were both things he had to agree to because he didn't have a choice.

I don't know, I guess it depends on how you read it in the end. Any person reading any book can glorify any minuscule factor of the larger narrative if it really means something to them. Like I said it has been a long time since I read Godfather, but I remember enjoying it a lot. Its a good story and that is how I treat it. If there was an overt glorification of racism I didn't pick up on it. The sexism is definitely there, but I wouldn't say it was glorified. Mafioso has always been depicted as sexist towards women and racist towards blacks in books, movies, and television. There were parts of the Sopranos where women were treated like shit too, but I wouldn't say it was misogynistic. If I do ever read the Godfather again, I will remember to look closer to see how bad it is.


message 24: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Seligman If you don't like the content of the book, stop reading it. The Godfather is a classic. This was written in a different time as were many books that are considered racist and sexist.
Are we to start banning books because of their content?


message 25: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Paul, I didn't say anything about banning books.. I liked the book overall, i just think it's promoting a bad view.. a naive young person reading it maybe could be influenced by it


message 26: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Seligman True, you did not say that. But I was just getting at the notion that it could lead to banning books.
The way the media is going at the "free speech" thing lately and the thought that some people do not like some words that are printed in books ei: To Kill a Mockingbird, we should be a little scared.
Do not think I was directing that comment at you.


message 27: by Wyatt (new) - added it

Wyatt It's just a book. It's only value is what you get out of it.
No.. it's not a book for a young mind..it also wasn't written for a young mind.
Like life, it is sometimes dirty.. sometimes violent and sometimes exciting. Learn from it what you will. Could be bad.. might be good..... but if you read.... you will learn.


message 28: by Joe (new)

Joe Absolutely. It's about a crime family in the 40s and 50s, less than a generation removed from immigration, hailing from a highly traditional set of values. Not exactly a tale of liberal ethics. No one is applauding everything the characters do. It is also written with the romantic sweep of an epic.

I find it interesting that the merciless violence and blatant extortion doesn't seem to bother you as much.


message 29: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Joe, it’s my topic, I can choose to focus on whatever aspect I want, stop trying to detract from it. And actually I think some readers probably do applaud The Don and that was what worried me..


message 30: by Tom (last edited Dec 18, 2017 01:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom That's why it's a good book. Because of the ambiguity & moral complexity of the main characters. Children's books (and many others) have the "good guys" vs the "bad guys", and we have no issue cheering for the heroes.
A book like the Godfather is all the more interesting because we can at the same time come to understand and admire certain aspects of the culture and characters - the devotion to family, the hard work, the struggles overcome, the sense of history, the political acuity - while at the same time we are disturbed and provoked to thought as we observe the violence, misogyny, tolerance for sociopathy, and other negative aspects of the characters. That's part of the point. That's what makes a complex book interesting, it's a portrait of a time, place, and people that can be a challenge to understand.
I think some of the earlier comments in this thread, while perhaps abrasive, were at least in part fueled by the idea that most readers expect their characters to be complex, and often have abhorrent characteristics mixed with admirable ones. We know that this is the case, we expect this from the good books we read. It is not news. A story about someone who leaves a horse's head in a movie producer's bed is interesting, the fact that we have a level of admiration for the character deepens our interest.
Also, any book depicting a specific historical time & place can not help but include aspects that we do not approve of today, whether it be ancient Rome, Irish immigrants, Apaches, whoever. Sometimes these aspects are not dwelt upon as they are not the focus, while more often than not they are there to be considered and add to our understanding of the characters & the context.


message 31: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Tom wrote: "That's why it's a good book. Because of the ambiguity & moral complexity of the main characters. Children's books (and many others) have the "good guys" vs the "bad guys", and we have no issue chee..."
I know all of this... But I meant I think it could fuel racist beliefs..


Apoorv Sharma The book has nothing to do with the glorification of racism and sexism. You've got to accept that this genre has to have some parts or sections that may indicate towards sexism but that's just part of the Mafia structure. The book does not deal with the very social setup that you and I are used to.


message 33: by Thomas (last edited Mar 17, 2018 11:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas Jr. This is an interesting discussion. Too bad it had to begin with such acrimony. I do think it's important, if we want to eliminate racism and sexism, that we ask questions about the ways bias is represented and perpetuated. Were authors who depict what we would call bias in their texts aware of what they were doing? Given their time, could they reasonably be expected to have been? Are characters who are biased speaking for their authors, or were they invented in order to show bias in a negative light? In Puzo's case, I feel fairly certain that the racism we see when, say, one of the Dons says it's fine to sell heroin "to the blacks, because they're animals" (or something like that), we're meant to condemn that attitude and see Don Vito's refusal to sell any drugs at all as more enlightened. As for sexism, I also think that Puzo might be bowing to the nascent feminism of the time of composition by showing Sonny and Freddy's serial copulation in a negative light and, almost as likely, showing Michael shutting Kay out of his life as a mark of his dehumanization. On the other hand, if you look at the major surgical procedures in the book, it's pretty telling: Johnny Fontane gets his voice back, and Lucy Mancini gets a vaginal tuck. As a result, Johnny can continue his lucrative career entertaining men and women alike, while Lucy gets to have better sex and please whatever man she is with (including, first, her surgeon himself.) Somehow, I don't think that difference is the result of Puzo standing back from "Mafia-think" and striking a blow for enlightenment.


Obscured Jude Maybe books should just be banned, Lisa? Or presented before, idk, some kind of committee that could determine which ones we're allowed to read? Then young people couldn't get the wrong idea.

Idiocracy is real.


message 35: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa @jude don’t know what it about the word racist that instantly gets people on the defensive.. ruins any chance of discussion. Not that there’s much chance of that with someone so petty as to stoop to name indirect name calling... >_ >


message 36: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa @thomas at least you have explored the issue a bit although you too have become defensive and i feel like a broken record so I’m not going to bother repeating myself anymore


message 37: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Imagine a racist person picked up that book and read it. He would feel bolstered. His opinions reinforced


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast Charles Manson was bolstered and reinforced by the Beatles song Helter Skelter believing it was written specifically for him. That doesn’t mean that it actually was.


message 39: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Well you’ve kind of proved my point anyway. People are affected by the media they consume sometimes with very negative outcomes. Obviously Helter Skelter doesn’t tell anyone to murder and Charles Manson was obviously crazy but this book does promote racism and to a racist person that could be all he needs act further on his twisted beliefs


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast Actually, the point was that if a crazy person interprets a source as a reinforcement or justification of their beliefs, and then proceeds to carry out a senseless act of violence, that person was already prone to violence before coming upon that source. Helter Skelter was a song about a children’s game British kids used to play on a slide. Manson believed it was about a race war between white and black people in America, and that it was his job to propel that war along.

A crazy person can claim any source as a reinforcement or justification of their beliefs, but that does not make the source responsible for their actions. We don’t put music, books, movies, or even video games on trial.


message 41: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa @philip that was your point, not mine. But in a way you proved mine that people are affected by media.. whether it was intended or not..


message 42: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa @phillip Also yes a person can claim any source as reinforcement but if someone claimed this book fuelled their racism it wouldn’t be hard to believe at all...


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast First, can you provide evidence that anybody out of the wide margin of racist and/or sexist people has ever claimed this book as their main source of racism and/or sexism?

Second, even if some hypothetical person did claim this book as their reason for being racist and/or sexist what should we do with the book?


message 44: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa @philip I just wanted to know if anyone else found this book racist and sexist, that is why I started this thread.


message 45: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom "I just wanted to know if anyone else found this book racist and sexist, that is why I started this thread."

No, no one else did.


message 46: by Rick (last edited Apr 25, 2018 09:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rick Lisa, I did a quick review of the posts on this thread and it's obvious that your opinion has been voted down, 12 - Not Racist, 2 - Noncommittal and 2 - Racist. So the answer is yes, Ian thought it was racist as well.

But in response to your original question, no one thought it glorified Racism and Sexism.


Hilda Awori I found the book a bit sexist, the portrayal of women as only good for being house wives, good for a beating was so disgusting, I almost stopped reading the book.
He is so not sorry when he refers to coloureds as good for nothing and that was bogus as well....whether he was speaking from the point of view of the charaters is not the question.... What was his stand as the writer about these women and the coloureds? What does he want the reader to take back home?
I feel his vision for women was so limited, he could have predicted a female mafia or some thing.
Otherwise it was a good read....one of the best novels I have read but his portrayal of women made it so hard for me to digest this book.


message 48: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa @hilda yes, exactly. what did he want the reader to think. You can’t just write and not expect to affect your readers in any way.


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast That’s ridiculous! You claim you just want to see if anybody else thought the book was racist or sexist but you are also blatantly pressing the argument that the author is influencing people. An author can only affect a person’s mind negatively if that person was already susceptible to that behavior, in this case sexism or racism. And if a person is susceptible to racism or sexism they are going to be influenced by anything whether it is remotely sexist or racist, or not racist or sexist at all.

There is absolutely no proof that Mario Puzo was sexist or racist, or that he was attempting to affect reader’s beliefs or actions with any of his books. The mafioso are portrayed as racist and sexist because members of the mafia were pretty damn racist and sexist. Seems pretty insignificant considering they also thought it was okay to murder anybody that got in their way. Puzo is not the only person who has portrayed the mafia this way, it was done in the Sopranos, every Scorsese Mafia film, and Once Upon A Time In America.


Iceman-Wolfman Crane Fast No he was not sorry for portraying the characters the way he did because he thought he was creating an accurate portrayal of legitimate mafioso he probably saw growing up Italian in New York City during the 1920s and 1930s when the Mafia was openly taking control of organized crime.

Obviously, ya’ll don’t care about that, and only care about how he treats women and African Americans. If that is the case the only thing you can do is avoid the truth for the rest of your life, because unfortunately the truth is that the Mafia was not organized by nice guys. They murdered, they killed, they bought police and politicians, they stole whatever they wanted, they dumped bodies in rivers, and they did it for a very long time. The fact that they treated women and African Americans poorly is probably at the bottom of a District Attorney’s list when trying to put them in prison. Good luck with trying to get somebody to create a female Godfather.


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