Eddie is trying to keep control of his family, even after all that happened, “Didn’t you hear what I told you? You walk out that door to that wedding you ain’t coming back here, Beatrice.” We notice the “I told you”. He still thinks that he is in control of his family, like he always had been. He doesn’t realise how bad what he did was, and what implications it will have. We, as the audience now know how Catherine feels about him, but Eddie doesn’t.
This dramatic irony helps build up more tension, as we don’t know what Eddie will do when Catherine doesn’t do what he tells her to.
To add to the anticipation of what will happen, we learn how important respect is to Eddie, “I want my respect”. He still seems to think that people will still respect him, and doesn’t realise that nobody does, or, seeing what happened to Vinny earlier on, ever will again.
This creates tension, as we want (yet at the same time, dread) what will happen when he realises this). Then, Catherine goes and defies him, “It’s after three; we’re supposed to be there already, Beatrice. The priest won’t wait.” She is totally ignoring Eddie, just talking to Beatrice. Also, she is subtly belittling him when she says, ” the priest won’t wait”, as she’s making the priest out to be more important to her than Eddie.
Eddie, not realising this, still thinks he’s in charge, and thinks that Catherine will still obey him, “He’s gonna come here and apologize to me or nobody from this house is goin’ to the church today.
Now if that’s more to you than I am, then go. But don’t come back. You be on my side or their side, that’s all.” The way he says “nobody from this house” that in his mind, he rules the house and everyone in it. It is his kingdom and they are his servants. If they do not obey him, then they are betraying him, and should be kicked out. He is being rather babyish, seeing it as a “them and us” situation, with no possible middle ground. This speech also tells us that he thinks that he’s in the right, and that it should be Marco who comes to apologise to him, but as we have already seen, Marco thinks he’s in the right and wants Eddie to apologise to him. They are both very similar, and both just as stubborn, which creates tension, as we know that neither will give in and apologise; yet both expect the other to.
Catherine has finally had enough of Eddie’s primitive behaviour, and openly rebels for the first time, the most interesting part being her extended metaphor, “He’s a rat, he belongs in the sewer! [Beatrice]: Stop it! [Catherine][Weeping]: He bites people when they sleep! He comes when nobody’s looking and poisons decent people. In the garbage he belongs!” First of all, we discover to what point Catherine despises him. Calling him a rat removes any human nature from him, so she doesn’t even consider him a human. Then there are the things he does.
For example, “he bites people when they sleep” probably refers to the boxing incident, when he hit Rodolpho hard, while Rodolpho trusted him and wasn’t prepared for it (like when you sleep). Then he “comes when nobody’s looking”, which could refer to the calling of the immigration officers, and “poisons decent people”, which almost certainly means the way in which he made “decent” Marco want to kill him. With so much hatred, also comes tension, as the audience wonder how Eddie will respond to having his authority undermined by one who he thinks respects him.
The result of the rebellion, which makes Eddie realise she no longer respects or obeys him, is that he nearly attacks her, “[Eddie seems about to pick up the table and fling it at her]”. This is a very tense moment, and shows just how distraught and desperate Eddie is. He loves Catherine more than anything else (perhaps too much), and the reason all this happened was because of how he cared for her and loved her. If now he is prepared to physically harm her, it’s that he is emotionally at breaking point. Over the last few days, his life has fallen apart, and we know he can’t stop now. Luckily Beatrice is there to calm him down, and she decided to take his side, “Now go, go to your wedding Katie, I’ll stay home. Go. God bless you, God bless your children” suggest that she’ll never see her again, or her children, making this a very emotional sentence.
Then, in comes Rodolpho paving the way for a final showdown, “Marco is coming Eddie. [Pause. Beatrice raises her hands in terror] He’s praying in the church. You understand? [Pause. Rodolpho advances in the room]. Catherine, I think it is better we go.” This speech can have two meanings, depending on how the director asks the actor to say it. The actor could make out that Marco wants to come and kill Eddie, and Rodolpho has come to watch Eddie squirm, or alternatively, could make out that Marco is coming to apologise. I personally think that Miller intended it to be the former, as he has set the scene for revenge on Rodolpho’s part earlier, when, after being punched, Rodolpho responds with “[a certain gleam and a smile]”.
This smile suggests that he knows what’s going on, and will get him back. I also believe that Marco is coming to kill Eddie, because in the previous scene, Alfieri kept telling Marco ” only God makes justice”. Maybe Marco paid attention to this, and is praying for justice. Beatrice has obviously also come to the same conclusion as we can see from her reaction, and her next line, “let’s go someplace […] I don’t want you to be here when he comes”. If he were coming to apologise, she would want him to be there. Eddie on the other hand may, blinded by his emotions, think he has come to apologise, which could be fatal.
Even with Beatrice’s pleading, Eddie won’t be moved. He’s already had too much, “Where am I goin’? This is my house”. So at least Eddie’s not kidding himself; he agrees with Beatrice, and thinks that he’s coming for revenge, but because of his pride, he refuses to leave. He also possibly doesn’t realise how dire the consequences could be. He wants to defend his honour and his territory, and wants to punish Marco for insulting him so badly. We realise that no amount of persuasion from anyone will make him change his mind. This helps create quite a bit of tension, as we know that there will be a climatic fight.
Even Rodolpho changes his mind and doesn’t want a fight anymore. He says, “[Quite suddenly, stepping up to Eddie]: It is my fault Eddie. Everything. I wish to apologize […] I kiss your hand [He reaches for Eddie’s hand, but Eddie snaps it away from him]” On first inspection, this redeems Rodolpho. The words “quite suddenly” suggest that seeing how distraught Beatrice was, he changed his mind. He is willing to forget all the insults and other bad things Eddie has done to him, which makes the audience trust him again. But rereading it, it seems that he is possibly just trying to get Beatrice and Catherine to think that he’s a very good man. The proof for this is that he says it only after Eddie has made it clear that he won’t change his mind, so he knows it won’t have any effect on Eddie, just on the others present. Eddie’s symbolically rejects the apology, signing, in doing so, his death warrant.
The persuasion goes on and on, with the effect of hyping up Marco’s coming, telling the audience that it will be grandiose and possibly fatal. It also has the effect of making the others seem nicer, as they all (even Catherine) plead with him not to stay. But Eddie won’t listen, “I want my name! He didn’t take my name; he’s only a punk. Marco’s got my name [To Rodolpho] and you can run tell him kid, that he’s gonna give it back to me in front of this neighbourhood, or we have it out. [Hoisting his pants]”. Eddie is taking this honour and respect thing very seriously, which is why he won’t accept Rodolpho’s apology. To him, Rodolpho is just a stupid kid with dyed hair (in other words a punk). His lack of intellect is shown by the fact that he doesn’t realise that he’s lost his respect and no-one can give it back. All he understands is physical action, so he hoists his pants, showing that he is ready for action, and is prepared to fight for his honour if Marco doesn’t apologise. We all know this won’t happen, so the tension starts building.
Beatrice, in a desperate attempt to stop him, breaks down in front of Eddie, “[barring his way to the stairs] what’s gonna mean something? Eddie, listen to me. […] Listen to me, I love you, I’m talking to you, I love you.” First of all, we can tell that she’s getting very desperate, as she bars his way; something that would take a great deal of courage, and despair gives you that courage. In addition, she speaks in short sentences, which makes it seem as though she’s trying to grab his attention. She repeats, “Listen to me”, which would suggest that Eddie is ignoring her. She also repeats, “I love you” to try and make him realise what harm he could to those who love him, and to tell him that he’s not yet totally alone. To emphasise this last point, she also says, “I’m talking to you”. This could be just to make him listen, but it might also be to tell him that she, unlike everyone else in the community, still respects him.