Eddie, the main character of the play, is a simple person who is a victim of circumstances but he also contributes to his own downfall because of the beliefs he has about the role of man. When others do not conform to his ideas it often leads to conflict. Coming from a Sicilian background, he sees himself in the traditional role of the male breadwinner, the head of the household and is used to getting his own way. He believes that being the man of the house means he should have authority compared to the other characters in the play. He demands a certain type of respect from the others, which at first we do not see as a threat as Catherine and Beatrice conform to these demands.
Also, he has this idea that he has to be consulted before any decisions are to be made in his house; this is portrayed when talking to Catherine about her new job offer as a stenographer. Eddies response is, Why didnt you ask me before you took the job? This shows how he wants Catherine to ask his permission, even though she is now old enough to make her own decisions. He wants to feel like he is the wage earner in the house, therefore he feels threatened that Catherine wants to be out in the real world and achieve too. An aspect of manliness is to keep emotions bottled up, as real men do not show their true feelings and emotions. Eddie has done this throughout the whole play, as he was trying to be so manly.
Nonetheless, his Sicilian background interlinks with his 1950s notions of manhood because his origins encourage him to be manly and the one who goes off to work to provide for the family. Eddie argues and questions Marcos and Rodolphos presence in America when saying, If hes come here to work, then he should work; if hes come here for a good time then he could fool around. The sparring of words is supplemented by physical action. Catherine hits at Eddie by inviting Rodolpho to dance with her, immediately aggravating Eddie. Eddie counters by giving Rodolpho a lesson in boxing. This is no crude beating up; Eddie pretends to be pleased with his pupils progress but the real hostility is ill- concealed beneath the show of friendly encouragement, and at the end the motive is evident to Rodolpho. Though he protests that he was not hurt, only surprised- by a hard blow. Marco, silently watching, is not for a moment deceived.
As Rodolpho resumes dancing with Catherine, Marco initiates a contest in physical strength; the chair lifting challenge- the result is a defeat for Eddie, as Marco raises the chair like a weapon over his head. We know that Eddies hostility is in fact directed towards Rodolpho as Eddie begins sizing up Rodolpho, and there is a concealed suspicion. Marco tends to demonstrate conventionally masculine characteristics, which may make Eddie feel inferior towards Marco, or less of a man; he may feel threatened. In this scene we see that Marco has a protective attitude towards his brother and will not allow him to be bullied. This maybe in the same way that Eddie may be protective towards Catherine.
Eddie is a very forceful character; he has a somewhat demanding personality that is apparent in his relationship with his wife. He expects her to always agree with him, and he becom Consequently, recent events have taken their toll on her feelings and she is emotionally wearied by her husbands irrational behaviour. A first she expresses her feelings openly, I dont wanna hear no more about it, you understand? Nothin, and her annoyance is evident when she asks, What do you want from me? Theyve moved out; what do you want now? Beatrices open annoyance at her husband is too much for Eddie to take. He sees himself as the man of the house, the person in charge, and he reprimands her: I dont like it! The way you talk to me and the way you look at me. He expects to get his own way and his wife to obey him.
We learn more about the relationship that existed in the past between Eddie and Catherine. Beatrices remark, You kept her a baby, you wouldnt let her go out, tells us how possessive Eddie has always been about Catherine. Beatrice had tried to get her husband to adopt a more relaxed attitude towards Catherine, I told you a hundred times, but Eddie has always seen himself as the man in charge of his family and he was able to get his way. Now, as his wife points out, it was too late; his need for being the one always in charge has just lead to matters to get worse.