A View from the Bridge

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Maturity and Independence 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.
Maturity and Independence Theme Icon

If A View from the Bridge is the story of Eddie’s tragic decline, it is also the story of Catherine’s attempted ascent into maturity and adulthood. Over the course of the play, Catherine grows, matures, and attempts to carve out her own independent life, while Eddie struggles to keep her under his control—and his roof. Catherine gradually matures, as she finds a job and begins to assert herself with the help of Beatrice, who tells her not to act like a child anymore. Eddie misjudges Catherine’s maturity and continues to see her as a young girl; because of this, he denies her independence. But she is not the only one whose maturity he misjudges. He underestimates Rodolpho, repeatedly referring to him early in the play as “just a kid.” And, given his own childish jealousy and behavior, Eddie perhaps overestimates his own maturity, as well.

Eddie is sad to see Catherine grow up, and tries to hold onto her as she matures and becomes more independent. But even late in the play, it is questionable to what degree Catherine really achieves independence. For one thing, she still greatly cares what Eddie thinks, and tries to get him to come to her wedding. Moreover, she first begins to assert her independence mainly because Beatrice advises her to. Catherine thus ironically learns to think for herself by listening to someone else’s advice. And finally, in moving away from the control of Eddie, she at least partially comes under the control of Rodolpho, who calls her a little girl and whom she begs in tears to teach her. Given the play’s setting in the 1950s, in a traditional Italian immigrant community, it would be difficult for a woman to achieve absolute independence. Thus, even if Catherine still depends on others and her actions are partially dictated or influenced by others, this should not negate the fact of the immense growth and maturation in her character, as she gradually becomes more of her own person, and learns to assert herself against the controlling, oppressive figure of Eddie.

Maturity and Independence ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Maturity and Independence 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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Maturity and Independence 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 Maturity and Independence.
Act 1 Quotes

Katie, I promised your mother on her death-bed. I’m responsible for you. You’re a baby, you don’t understand these things.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine is an orphan whose parents died when she was young. Eddie and Beatrice, Catherine's aunt, promised the girl's parents that they would take care of her. A childless couple, they raised Catherine as if she were their own. 

Eddie is a very proud man who is insistent on his promises to people. In this quote, he tells Catherine that he knows what's best for her, and that he needs to protect her to the extent that he promised her mother on her death-bed. In this case, it means that he wants her to change the way she dresses and walks, because she's attracting the attention of men. Though Eddie urges Catherine that he knows best and doesn't want her to begin dating under the guise of his love as an uncle, it becomes clear throughout the play that he wants her to stay at home due to subconscious feelings of ownership and, to an implied extent, romantic love. 


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Look, you gotta get used to it, she’s no baby no more.

Related Characters: Beatrice (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Catherine
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

When the family sits down for dinner, Catherine breaks the news to Eddie that she has been offered a job as a stenographer at a plumbing company, where she will earn $50 a week. Eddie immediately objects for a variety of reasons: that Catherine should stay in school (even though the principal set her up with the job, and would still allow her to take the exam to finish her courses at the end of the year), that the neighborhood in which she will work is too dangerous (even though it is one block from the subway, and no more dangerous than Red Hook, where they live), and that Catherine is too young to go to work (even though she is almost eighteen years old, and would bring home $50 a week, a significant sum of money for the family working to make ends meet). 

In this quote, Beatrice sticks up for Catherine, and eventually convinces Eddie to let Catherine go to work. She knows firsthand how overprotective Eddie is of his niece, and also knows that she is Catherine's only advocate in achieving her freedom outside of the home. Beatrice also senses Eddie's affinity for Catherine, one that goes beyond the bond of uncle and niece, even one between an uncle who has been the father figure for a niece. Beatrice's insistence that Eddie allow Catherine to work and get out of the house is, to an extent, self-serving; if Catherine is not around as much, and works to make Eddie see she is no longer "his baby," then Beatrice can be the number one woman in Eddie's life for the first time in years. 

I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own, A doll that other fellows cannot steal.

Related Characters: Rodolpho (speaker)
Related Symbols: “Paper Doll”
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Marco and Rodolpho tell Eddie, Beatrice, and Catherine about the lack of opportunities in their town in Italy--there is plenty of beauty, but absolutely no employment. Rodolpho proudly recalls the day that a famous opera singer set to perform at a hotel got sick, and being a singer himself, Rodolpho took over and entertained the visitors for hours. He romanticizes the memory mostly due to the fact that he claims "thousand lira" tips rained down from the crowd, and that he and his brother were able to live for six months off of that night (though Marco refutes the claim and states it was more like two months). Catherine implores him to sing, and in this quote, he sings a few bars of the song "Paper Doll."

Eddie quickly becomes angry and tells Rodolpho to stop singing, even though Beatrice and Catherine want him to continue--he has a beautiful, high tenor voice. Eddie claims he wants Rodolpho to stop because the neighbors may become suspicious if they suddenly hear singing from a house where previously no such voice came from. However, it is also likely due to the content of the song that Eddie becomes paranoid. The lyrics are about keeping a woman away from other men, as if she were a "paper doll" that could be kept in a pocket for "safekeeping." Eddie views Catherine like his own paper doll, a child that will be his forever. He can already sense that Catherine's allegiance to him is waning in light of her enchantment with Rodolpho, and it is the combination of the content of the song and annoyance at Rodolpho's talent that prompts Eddie to shut up his houseguest. 

The girl is gonna be eighteen years old, it’s time already.

B., he’s taking her for a ride!

All right, that’s her ride. What’re you gonna stand over her till she’s forty?

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Beatrice (speaker), Catherine, Rodolpho
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

Rodolpho and Catherine frequently stay out late at the movies, a new development that makes Eddie upset. He claims he worries for her safety, but Beatrice knows it is due to his unusual affinity for Catherine. 

In this quote, Beatrice repeats her refrain to Eddie that Catherine is a grown woman, and is allowed to make her own choices, including what men she associates with and where she spends her evenings. Eddie refutes Beatrice's claim that Catherine is perfectly safe with Rodolpho, and states that he believes Rodolpho is only expressing a passing interest in Catherine until he marries her and acquires American citizenship. Beatrice tells Eddie that that is Catherine's choice. This is clearly true, but as a statement it's likely also self-serving for Beatrice: if Catherine marries Rodolpho, then she will be out of the house, and Eddie will be forced to stop doting upon her. This will make Beatrice less uncomfortable about Eddie's interest in his niece, and will also shift Eddie's attention back to her, his wife. 

It means you gotta be your own self more. You still think you’re a little girl, honey. but nobody else can make up your mind for you any more, you understand? You gotta give him to understand that he can’t give you orders no more.

Related Characters: Beatrice (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

Eddie becomes upset about the amount of time Rodolpho and Catherine have been spending together. For years, she has been his "little girl," always doting upon him when he comes home from work, but ever since Rodolpho arrived, they stay out until late at night seeing movies. Eddie confronts Catherine to tell her that he thinks Rodolpho is up to no good, meaning that he is only seeking a green-card marriage. This upsets Catherine, who goes to Beatrice and tells her that while she wants to get married and leave the house one day, she worries about how Eddie will react. 

In this quote, Beatrice tells Catherine that if she wants Eddie to treat her like a grown woman, she has to start acting like one. Eddie and Catherine are very close, since he has been the father figure in her life since she was very little. Their relationship, it seems, has not evolved as she matured into an adult, a stunted growth that has caused tension as Catherine prepares to leave the house in pursuit of marriage and a career. Though Beatrice does not explicitly say that the nature of Catherine and Eddie's relationship makes her uncomfortable, she doesn't only urge Catherine to act more mature for own Catherine's benefit; as Eddie's wife, it also makes Beatrice uncomfortable how much attention her husband pays to their niece. If Eddie cannot learn to treat Catherine like a grown woman, then it is in Beatrice's best interest to urge Catherine to act like one. 

Act 2 Quotes

Don’t, don’t laugh at me! I’ve been here all my life. . . . Every day I saw him when he left in the morning and when he came home at night. You think it’s so easy to turn around and say to a man he’s nothin’ to you no more?

Related Characters: Catherine (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Rodolpho
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

When Rodolpho tells Catherine that she should no longer care what Eddie thinks of her, Catherine feels wounded. Beatrice and Eddie raised her as if she were their own when her parents died, and she feels indebted to them.

In this quote, she feels insulted that Rodolpho would be so dismissive of Eddie, who similarly took in two Italian immigrants that he had never met before. Though overly protective of Catherine to an uncomfortable degree, neither can deny that Eddie is hardworking and welcoming--at least, when his guests comply to his demands. Eddie is the only father Catherine has ever known, and though his doting upon her seems strange to outsiders, she has always been complicit in their bond. She feels confused about this budding relationship with a new man, especially since the only other man she has ever had such a bond with--Eddie--so vocally disapproves of the courtship. While Catherine longs to spread her wings and go out on her own, she feels massive guilt (largely due to Eddie's words) about denying the man who has given everything to her. It is due to this guilt and reluctance to leave that the separation between Eddie and Catherine is so painful and difficult for all members of the family. 

Catherine. If I take in my hands a little bird. And she grows and wishes to fly. But I will not let her out of my hands because I love her so much, is that right for me to do?

Related Characters: Rodolpho (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

Rodolpho, like Beatrice and Alfieri, has noticed that Eddie is overly protective of Catherine. Though Catherine expresses her worry about how Eddie will feel if she leaves the house to marry Rodolpho, he assures her that she has the license to make her own way in the world once she is grown.

In this quote, Rodolpho uses the metaphor of a baby bird to symbolize Catherine's situation with Eddie. Even though Eddie has raised her, Catherine still has the right to leave the home now that she is fully matured. Rodolpho, a romantic man who loves all things beautiful, works his way into Catherine's heart with flowery language such as in this quote. Here, he quite literally tells Catherine that if you love something, set it free--though in this case he is referring to the fact that her uncle should set her free from the chains of his love for her, so that the two young people can be married. 

This is my last word, Eddie, take it or not, that’s your business. Morally and legally you have no rights, you cannot stop it; she is a free agent.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Catherine
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

After confronting Catherine and Rodolpho--and kissing both of them, to prove his ownership of Catherine and his belief that Rodolpho is a homosexual--Eddie goes to Alfieri, to beg him to find a reason to use the law to separate Catherine and Rodolpho. Much like their previous conversation, Alfieri refuses. In this quote, he firmly tells Eddie that Catherine is old enough to make her own decisions, and that Eddie has no agency over whom or when she marries. Eddie longs to find some way to prove that Rodolpho is a homosexual, and that he is only interested in using Catherine to get a green card, but Alfieri says there is no way the law can intervene in these suspicions. It is this conversation that prompts Eddie to take matters into his own hands, and to invoke the law the only way he can think of: calling the Immigration Office and informing them of two illegal immigrants living in his apartment. This is an act of desperation that comes from a place of extreme hopelessness and lack of control, and though it is "right" from a legal perspective, on any other level it is an act of betrayal. 

The law is only a word for what has a right to happen. When the law is wrong it’s because it’s unnatural, but in this case it is natural and a river will drown you if you buck it now. Let her go. And bless her.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Catherine
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Alfieri insinuates that the only way the law might intervene in the case of Catherine is if Eddie does something drastic to act upon his feelings for her. Even though he is not a part of the family and has not seen firsthand how attached to Catherine Eddie is, Alfieri can tell that Eddie's feelings of ownership for Catherine come from a place of romantic, not just paternal, love. Alfieri's hands are tied: he anticipates that something tragic will happen, and all he can do is to urge Eddie to let Catherine live her life as she pleases. He warns Eddie that these feelings of attachment and rage will only serve to hurt him, not hurt those whom he has hatred for. And by hurting himself, he will end up scarring those that he loves--namely, Catherine. 

How can you listen to him? This rat!

Don’t you call him that!

What’re you scared of? He’s a rat! He belongs in the sewer!

Related Characters: Beatrice (speaker), Catherine (speaker), Eddie Carbone
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

When Eddie refuses to attend Catherine and Rodolpho's wedding until Marco apologizes--and forbids Beatrice to attend as well--Catherine becomes very angry.

In this quote, she calls Eddie a "rat" in an outburst, referring to the fact that he "ratted" on Marco and Rodolpho to Immigration due to his jealousy for Rodolpho's relationship with Catherine. Though Catherine has thus far been reluctant to break ties with Eddie, due to the bond that they have had for the majority of her life, the Red Hook ideals of justice give her license to denounce her uncle in the wake of his betrayal. Just like with the anecdote of the boy who ratted out an uncle at the beginning of the play, the only time that it is communally acceptable to denounce and publicly shame a family member is if they betray another family member.

Beatrice, though initially encouraging of Catherine to become less close with Eddie, is very quick to defend her husband. This defense reveals the self-serving nature of Beatrice's conversations with Catherine, when she told her to grow up and encouraged her to get a job, get married, and leave the house. Beatrice has clearly felt competition with the young girl for Eddie's affection for years. Though she does not approve of Eddie's betrayal, the love and allegiance she feels for her husband will always come before anything--even the vigilante law that pervades Red Hook, and even before the niece she raised as if she were her own child.