Study Guide

Uncle Enzo in Snow Crash

By Neal Stephenson

Uncle Enzo

Public image is very important to Uncle Enzo. In fact, our first glimpse of him is on a billboard:

It shows Uncle Enzo in one of his spiffy Italian suits. The pinstripes glint and flex like sinews. The pocket square is luminous. His hair is perfect, slicked back with something that never comes off, […] Uncle Enzo is standing there, not exactly smiling, an avuncular glint in his eye for sure, not posing like a model but standing there like your uncle would. (1.26)

Are you on any billboards? Yeah, we didn't think so. But then again you also probably don't run the Mafia, and as such, don't feel the need to launch a PR campaign to convince the masses the family you're in charge of is a-okay. This, however, is exactly what Uncle Enzo does.

It's only fitting then that Uncle Enzo is a people-person. He goes out of his way to arrange a meeting with Y.T. in order to thank her in person for delivering Hiro's cursed pizza. And when they meet, he engages her in conversation, making her feel like they have a lot in common as helmet-eschewing warriors: he served in Vietnam, she serves on the streets of L.A. He is one of the only people Y.T. enjoys talking to because he doesn't talk down to her even though she's a teenager.

You can totally look at Uncle Enzo's decision to reach out to Y.T. as him using her, but it also seems like he cares about her, since he sends a rescue mission when she's on the Raft. Sure, the rescue mission has another agenda (screw up Rife's operation), but you don't reach the top of the Mafia without learning to multi-task.

For another thing, he dislikes relying on technology too much: "He would prefer a single good soldier in polished shoes, armed with a nine, to a hundred of Ng's gizmos and portable radar units" (69.16). This actually saves Uncle Enzo's life when Raven shows up at LAX to pave the way for Rife's departure. Nobody relying on fancy technology makes it out alive, while Uncle Enzo possibly does.

Uncle Enzo gets major props for facing Raven and managing to wound him. The book ends on an ambiguous note—it's not clear if Enzo bleeds to death before help reaches him—but we know his memory will live on in the Mafia's cherished album of influential leaders.