Study Guide

Goodfellas Family

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What if you had two families? Two sets of parents. Two totally different sets of siblings. Double the fun on Christmas and your birthday. Sounds pretty good, right? Henry might beg to differ. In Goodfellas, he actually has two families: his real family, like Karen, his kids, and his brother, Michael; and his mafia family, like Paulie, Jimmy, and Tommy. Living up to the expectations of both can be trickier to manage than a Madden NFL team, but the role the family plays in mob life is essential. Simply put, it's the backbone of the whole operation. Without the trust and loyalty that comes with being part of a close-knit community, Henry's crew can't function. In the mafia, your family has got your back. And, if you step out of line, they'll shoot you in it.

Questions About Family

  1. If Henry were a made guy, do you think Paulie still would have turned his back on him?
  2. Where do all of the mistresses and girlfriends fit into the family? (The mafia family, that is. We know where they fit into the real family. Karen makes that pretty clear.)
  3. Is it dangerous for the family to be so isolated and spend all of their time only with each other?

Chew on This

Henry lying to Paulie is devastating because Paulie is Henry's surrogate father.

The main purpose of a mobster's traditional family—the house, the wife, the 2.5 kids—is to put up a facade of decency.

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