In Goodfellas, respect, power, and masculinity are wrapped up tighter than a burrito with cement salsa. Having respect is the sign of being a man. Sometimes, it's earned, like when teenage Henry doesn't rat out his pals after getting pinched selling hijacked smokes. Other times, it's bought. We're talking about bribed cops, wives in luxurious houses, girlfriends in slightly less luxurious apartments, and sweaty $20 bills in the pockets of just about everybody else. And when a wiseguy feels he's been disrespected and his manhood has been threatened? Well, let's just say people have a funny way of turning up dead.
Questions About Respect and Reputation
Paulie is the boss. How do the other characters show their respect for him?
Do people respect Jimmy, or are they just afraid of him? What's the difference?
What are three examples of how respect is linked to masculinity in the movie?
Does Tommy respect his mother?
Chew on This
Tommy's lack of respect for others is ultimately his downfall.
If Karen had any self-respect, she would have left Henry as soon as she discovered he was mobbed up.