A View from the Bridge

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Immigration, Home, and Belonging Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Immigration, Home, and Belonging Theme Icon
Love and Desire Theme Icon
Respect, Honor, Reputation Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
Maturity and Independence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A View from the Bridge, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Immigration, Home, and Belonging Theme Icon

The play takes place in an immigrant community—a neighborhood full of Italian immigrants both legal and illegal—and is a vivid portrayal of the immigrant experience in the United States, an immigrant nation founded by those who left their homes in Europe but one that has not always been welcoming to foreigners. As seen in A View from the Bridge, immigrants often come to America because it is, famously, supposed to be the land of opportunity. Rodolpho and Marco come to New York in search of jobs that are lacking in their Italian hometown, and are overjoyed at the money they can make working on the docks. But this doesn’t mean that immigrating to America is necessarily an entirely good thing. They have to live in hiding and are constantly in fear of being sent back to Italy (moreover, Marco plans to return to Italy eventually). In addition, Rodolpho and Marco have to deal with missing their original home, as can be seen when Rodolpho talks of the fountains in every town in Italy and, in an outburst, tells Catherine that America is not as great as she thinks it is. Through both Rodolpho and Marco, we see the ambivalence and difficulty of the immigrant experience. And through all the play’s characters, we see the gradual process of assimilating into a new nation. Alfieri, for example, begins the play by both invoking the Italian heritage of the neighborhood and insisting that its inhabitants are all thoroughly American now.

But the play does not simply depict the experiences of immigrants. Miller uses the topic of immigration to make larger points about the idea of home and a sense of belonging. Eddie takes pride in the home he works hard to maintain and is irritated when Rodolpho and Marco intrude on his place as master of his home. Throughout the play he struggles to maintain control over his home as a place where he belongs, but is gradually excluded from it as he drifts away from Catherine and Beatrice. By the end of the play, he hardly belongs in his own home, or even in his own neighborhood, as his neighbors shun him for betraying Marco and Rodolpho. While Eddie tries to maintain his home, Catherine tries to find one of her own. She is oppressed by Eddie, and moving out of Eddie’s apartment signifies the possibility of her having an independent life and home of her own. She must in a sense “immigrate” from Eddie’s home to one of her own. In this manner, all the characters of the play—and perhaps all people—must undergo forms of immigration during their lives, whether literally leaving one country for another or moving out of a family home to one’s own, or transitioning from one stage in life to another. Everyone is simply seeking a place where he or she can comfortably belong.

This pervasive idea of immigration is symbolized in the setting of the play, which takes place in Brooklyn and whose title alludes to the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn is part of New York City, but separated from the more affluent Manhattan. The bridge represents an in-between space; it doesn’t fully belong to either of the shores it connects. The title of the play thus captures the way that its characters are all on bridges of sorts, straddling two different worlds (whether Italy and the United States, or childhood and adulthood), exemplifying the double-life of the immigrant experience that may form a part of all our lives.

Immigration, Home, and Belonging ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Immigration, Home, and Belonging appears in each act of A View from the Bridge. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Immigration, Home, and Belonging Quotes in A View from the Bridge

Below you will find the important quotes in A View from the Bridge related to the theme of Immigration, Home, and Belonging.
Act 1 Quotes

But this is Red Hook, not Sicily. This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. This is the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world. And now we are quite civilized, quite American.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Brooklyn Bridge
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

The play opens with a monologue by Alfieri, a lawyer who immigrated to Red Hook from Italy when he was 25 years old. Throughout the play, Alfieri acts as a one man "Greek chorus" who frames and comments on the actions of the characters and the nature of the neighborhood. 

In this quote, he sets the scene for the stage of Red Hook, Brooklyn, a neighborhood largely populated by poor but proud Italian immigrants. Many of the men who live here are longshoremen, or dock workers who load and unload shipments from around the world. They literally "swallow" the "tonnage of the world" by relying on the tons of goods from around the world to support their livelihoods. Though these Brooklynites have escaped the hunger and unemployment that plagued them in their countries of origin, or their parents' country of origin, their view of the ocean and their attachment to the sea is a constant reminder of where they came from, and for illegal immigrants, where they could very easily end up. Aliferi's invocation of the Brooklyn Bridge is a metaphor for the bridge between wealthy New York and the American Dream, as it connects poor Brooklyn to shiny Manhattan—an important image, and one that contributes to the play's title. 


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Listen, they’ll think it’s a millionaire’s house compared to the way they live. Don’t worry about the walls. They’ll be thankful.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Marco, Rodolpho
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Two of Beatrice's cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, arrive a week early on a ship from Italy. Beatrice is surprised at their early arrival, and is upset that she did not have time to cook and clean as she had planned.

In this quote, Eddie assures her that the two immigrant men will not notice that the walls haven't been scrubbed sparkling clean. Instead, they will be grateful to have landed in a land of opportunity, and to have a roof over their heads. It is worthy to note that before even meeting Rodolpho and Marco, Eddie has a sense that they are indebted to him because his home is sheltering them while they live and work illegally in America, in order to send money back to their families. Eddie knows that the men came to America only because they felt they had no other choice but to leave Italy and find work across an ocean. In a way, he takes advantage of their desperation, and approaches the men living in his home with the attitude that he, not America, is giving them the opportunity for a better life. 

There was a family lived next door to her mother, he was about sixteen—

No, he was no more than fourteen, cause I was to his confirmation in Saint Agnes. but the family had an uncle that they were hidin’ in the house, and he snitched to the Immigration.

The kid snitched?

On his own uncle!

What, was he crazy?

He was crazy after, I tell you that, boy.

Oh, it was terrible. He had five brothers and the old father. And they grabbed him in the kitchen and pulled him down the stairs—three flights his head was bouncin’ like a coconut. And they spit on him in the street, his own father and his brothers. The whole neighborhood was cryin’.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Beatrice (speaker), Catherine (speaker)
Page Number: 17-18
Explanation and Analysis:

Prior to Marco and Rodolpho arriving at the house, Eddie and Beatrice tell Catherine the cautionary tale of a boy who informed Immigration officers that there was an illegal immigrant, his uncle, living in their house. They do so in order to warn her not to do anything to bring attention to the two illegal Italian immigrants they are soon to have live in their home. This story illustrates the pride that Red Hook residents have in their blood relatives, and the collective horror and shame that the neighborhood feels when someone betrays one of their own. Though the concept of justice is palpable throughout the neighborhood, as Alfieri notes in his opening monologue, it is a kind of vigilante justice rather than one that aligns with the actual law (which would approve of the arrest of an illegal immigrant). This anecdote illustrates how protective each family feels for its members, and the shame and disappointment thrust upon anyone, even a young boy, who betrays it (as Eddie himself will later).

Me, I want to be an American. And then I want to go back to Italy when I am rich, and I will buy a motorcycle.

Related Characters: Rodolpho (speaker)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Marco and Rodolpho, Beatrice's Sicilian cousins, arrive at the Carbone home and marvel at the "Americanness" of the house and of Brooklyn. Marco notes that he hopes to stay in America for a handful of years, send money back to his wife and children, and then return to Italy to establish a more stable life for his family.

In this quote, Rodolpho, Marco's younger and unmarried brother, notes that he has more superficial aspirations: to become an American, and then return to Italy wealthy, where he will buy a motorcycle. From the moment he steps foot in America, Rodolpho has the American aesthetic, rather than the American dream, in mind: with no family to take care of, he quickly spends his earnings on new clothing and trips to the movies. Rodolpho wants a better life for himself, and as a young, unattached man, this life is one of beautiful things and entertaining pursuits. It is this carefree spending, seemingly antithetical to the hard work Eddie has put in to provide for Beatrice and Catherine for the last twenty years, that eventually makes him suspicious that Rodolpho is courting Catherine only to earn his American citizenship, and then to leave her as soon as he can. To Eddie, Rodolpho's pursuits in America are all self-serving and frivolous, in opposition to the thrifty work ethic immigrants are supposed to have when arriving in the land of opportunity at last. 

Act 2 Quotes

Do you think I am so desperate? My brother is desperate, not me. You think I would carry on my back the rest of my life a woman I didn’t love just to be an American? It’s so wonderful? You think we have no tall buildings in Italy? Electric lights? No wide streets? No flags? No automobiles? Only work we don’t have. I want to be an American so I can work, that is the only wonder here—work!

Related Characters: Rodolpho (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

One day while home alone, Catherine confronts Rodolpho about his intentions. With the idea placed into her head by Eddie, she asks him if he is only interested in her to acquire U.S. citizenship. Rodolpho angrily rebuts her accusation, and in this quote, he says that he is in America to work, not to have a sham marriage for citizenship. He is interested in Catherine only because he loves her. Unlike his brother, he is not desperate for work, since he does not have a family to personally support. Implicit in this quote as well is a critique of America, and of the common idea that America is inherently greater than all other countries. As Rodolpho states here, the only thing America has that Italy doesn't is jobs—so if he wasn't working, and he didn't really love Catherine, he'd rather be in Italy.