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Crime and Italian identity

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Benjamin N.
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documents in English
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term papers
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3 pages
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  1. The disappearance of the Little Italy
  2. American imagination
  3. The gangster for Nick's neighborhood
  4. Bronx neighborhood
  5. Depictions of the mafia
  6. The mythology of the Mafia
  7. The identification as the bearer of a criminal element
  8. The association with the mafia and Italian Americans
  9. Conclusion
  10. Bibliography

The story of the Italian American experience after World War Two has been one of paradox, the move towards assimilation with the mainstream, and dealing with the feeling of regret of the younger generations of having lost many of the visible markers of Italian American identity. As Italian-Americans have become further removed from the world of their immigrant progenitors, a nostalgia for Italian ethnic markers has increased, and this in turn has created rising identification with the Mafioso and the mobster as symbolic of the culture. This transformation is startling. In Italian neighborhoods, the criminal elements was something to be despised.

[...] This association between being Italian and having a propensity for criminal behavior, grew stronger as Italian American left their neighborhoods and had to deal with a mainstream American that expected them, if not to have ties to criminal organizations, then at least to be When Nick Shay describes his killing of George the Waiter, his sometime friend and mentor, he turns to his ?gangster voice,? as a way to emphasize the act and affirm his connection to his past. He tells Donna, a woman he is having an affair with and who has trouble understanding his past, udder words I took him off da calendar? (300). [...]


[...] Italian American history becomes reduced to the story of Vito Corleone immigrating to America and finding wealth, in The Godfather II. Depictions of the Mafia have become a conduit for Italian and Italian slang to be expressed in the mainstream culture. The paradox of religion and violence in everyday life is depicted in its fullest in gangster films such as Scorsese's Mean Streets, and in the climactic baptismal massacre of The Godfather. Even food has become wedded to mob life, as if crime is something ingested. [...]

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