Michael Corleone

Michael Corleone

    The Godfather
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up… with his siblings Sonny, Fredo, and Connie. He was the youngest son of Vito Corleone, a powerful Italian-American crime boss in New York City.

Living… back in the United States after World War II, during which he served in the American military. After his return to the States, Michael is increasingly drawn into his family’s crime business, which Michael had sworn to never be a part of. He explains to his girlfriend, Kay, that his father is dangerous, relating a story with this capper: “My father assured [a famous bandleader] that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.” Then Michael reassures her, “That’s my family, Kay. That’s not me.”

Profession… ex-marine. Michael won the Navy Cross for his valor during battle. Now that he’s home, he wants to retain his honor. That means no crime. For now, anyway.

Interests… Kay, purity, his family – although he would like to separate himself from the unsavory parts of what they do. His parents and siblings are still the most important people in the world to him. Kay sometimes argues that it’s an unavoidable “Sicilian thing,” that Michael is a true Corleone whether he likes it or not.

Relationship Status… dating Kay Adams. Michael quickly gets into a serious relationship with Kay, but unlike the Italian generation above him, he would like to spend some quality time with her before getting married.

Challenge… staying out of the family business while still supporting his family. It becomes difficult to separate his love for his father from his loyalty to his father’s business. In the Corleone family, blood and business are inseparable, and it is Michael’s challenge to navigate the fine line between them. That will only become harder in time – especially when Vito is injured in an attempted assassination.

Personality… brave, caring, and honorable – at the moment, at least. Michael is an intelligent man, who would make a good leader in any kind of business. Unfortunately his family business is crime, which Michael wants to avoid after serving in the military. Over the years, Michael is sure to transform, especially if he is pulled into organized crime as seems inevitable. The question is: What kind of man will he become?


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