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Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American DreamCon Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords, and Zombies$
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Paul A. Cantor

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813177304

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813177304.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

“I Believe in America”

“I Believe in America”

The Godfather Films and the Immigrant’s Tragedy

(p.48) 3 “I Believe in America”
Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream

Paul A. Cantor

Paul A. Cantor

University Press of Kentucky

In his Godfather films, Francis Ford Coppola created American classics by dwelling on a classic American experience—immigration. In the story of the Corleone family, Coppola portrays Sicilian immigrants struggling to create a new and better life in the United States. They must navigate the difficult transition from the Old World to the New, and also from the past to the present, from a quasi-feudal way of life in Sicily to a modern America characterized by impersonal economic relations and corporate organization. Vito Corleone achieves the American dream by succeeding in business and providing for his family, but his hopes for his sons are dashed. Carrying on Vito’s struggle, Michael Corleone defeats all his enemies, and yet in the process he destroys his family. Coppola sees the American dream as a source of tragedy, and this chapter analyzes both Vito and Michael as tragic heroes.

Keywords:   American dream, Godfather films, Francis Ford Coppola, Vito Corleone, Michael Corleone, Tragedy, Tragic hero

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