La Cosa Nostra
and one of the most unforgettable moments, a severed horses?s head lies bloody in a man?s bed. It
Sicilians fled and took refuge in the hills. Some of these refugees formed a secret society that gave
Cascio Ferro fled to the United States in 1901 to escape arrest. He is known as the Father of
American Mafia.? (La Cosa Nostra) Many Italian immigrants came to the United States through
New York, also called the ?City that never sleeps,? houses the Five Families of New York.
?rackets.? The Five Families are: Gambino, Bonano, Lucchese, Colombo, and Genovese. While
code of silence called ?Omerta,? different families come to be known for different things. The
Genovese family, for the most part, is low key, whereas the Gambino family is heard all over the
life. He liked to keep low key, but many things are attributed to this family. Murder Inc., an
infamous group of talented, for-hire hitmen, was started by Albert Anastasia, member of the
Gambino family. While this was well publicized and talked about, perhaps the most publicized
Sammy, in return for this favor to the police, served only five years in jail for twenty murders.
However, this offense, breaking the ?Omerta? is one of the worst possible things any member of
the Mafia could ever do. As Michael Corleone says to his wife Kay, ?Don?t ask me about my
business, Kay.? (Godfather)
Everyone in the Mafia must learn many, many rules and live by all of them. Of most
importance is Omerta, as stated before, but many guidelines are set for way of life as well.
Members cannot show signs of weaknesses. Crying and wearing glasses are two such things.
Also, women are looked upon as inferior and a couple that is unable to produce sons is frowned
upon. Since power is very influential in how this business is run, members must know their place
Making reference to the movie ?The Godfather? is highly practical as this movie, which
won the Academy Award for Best Picture, is highly accurate and professionally portrays the
American Mafia. In this film, the Five Families ?go to the mattresses? over power, money, and
drugs. While wars like this do happen, they aren?t very common and the last one took place over
ten years ago. In this war there were not many casualties, but Families did lose territory.
This organized crime group is controlled by a hierarchy. At the very top of it all is the
Don, or Boss. Right below him is his Underboss and Consigliere. The Consigliere is a personal
advisor. Below them is the Caporegime, who are all in charge of manning certain areas; the
unions, docks, or ?running numbers? (laundering money). Next come the soldiers, men
responsible for enforcing the rules and collecting things due to the Family. These men, the hitmen
and assassins, are often the ones that are stereotyped. Finally, at the bottom are associates.
Associates are not part of the Family, but they help when called in and are loyal to the Family.
Loyalty is very important to the Mafia, as are respect and power. Its these three things,
were to being in the Mafia, it was summed up by, ?helping people, saving Mom and Pop
businesses from going under. Respect if you play by the rules, and the money?s good.?
Mafia today is quite different from that of days before. Families have lost a lot of power
and the chain of command, or hierarchy, is loose. Many of the older tradition Mafiosi are trying
to uphold old ways, but they keep ?getting whacked? by younger, new tradition Mafiosi,
Puzo?s ?Godfather? trilogy is gone.
reader a deeper understanding of the organization and motive behind these crimes. Since starting
in Sicily, the group has changed from one of protection for honor and family, to one of crime for
money, power, and family. Family, as you see, is still important today for Mafiosi in America as it
an offer they can?t refuse.
The Godfather, Part II. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Al Pacino, Robert Duvall. Paramount,
Machi, Mario. ?Mario?s Mafia Page.? Online. World Wide Web. 4 June 1999. Available
Malta, J. Geoff. ?The Godfather Trilogy.? Online. World Wide Web. 1 June 1999. Available
Wiseguy & Company, Inc. ?Unofficial Homepage of the New York Mafia.? Online. World
Wide Web. 4 June 1999. Available http://www.users.aol.com/whizkid01/index.html