English III H
November 24, 2009
On the Waterfront
Communism was a big topic during the 1950’s for many people. People faced a difficult choice. They could either give up names of people, sometimes being their close friends, and have to live with the guilt of ruining someone else’s life; or withhold the names of people the either knew were communists or believed were communists, and live in fear for the safety of yourself and your family.
Elia Kazan was one of the people that was for naming names. As director of On the Waterfront, he shows his views through a few characters; mainly Terry Malloy and Father Bradley. Father Bradley wants Terry to confess what he knows about the dock racketeers in order to bring down the mob. In this case, naming the names of the mobsters working there would ruin them, and save Terry. Much like communism, if people were named, it could help destroy what they’re trying to accomplish. Terry is similar to Kazan, because after much convincing by Father Bradley, he finally testifies against Johnny Friendly in court. Now, in this case, the person accused of a crime isn’t necessarily killed, but instead put in jail. In The Crucible written by Arthur Miller, the accused either faced ridiculously long jail times for confessing, or death for withholding their involvement in Witchcraft.
This brings us to how the character of Terry Malloy has much different viewpoints than Arthur Miller. In Miller’s play The Crucible even mentioning someone’s name in a sentence involving the vaguest form of witchcraft would get that person a trial and eventually either jail time or death (like communism). In this way, Miller expressed his beliefs of withholding names because many people during that time period were naming names of people they just didn’t like in order to get them persecuted, much like what goes on in The Crucible. An example of this behavior in the play is when Thomas Putnam tells his daughter Ruth to tell the...