Symbols In The Film On The Waterfront

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Symbols are prevalent throughout the movie On the Waterfront. Though they are subtle, they are of great importance, the most obvious being pigeons and hawks. A hawk preys on the pigeons, like the mob does with the workers, who are known as the longshoreman. Though the differences between the hawks and the pigeons are clear cut, many individuals are able to shift between them. Likewise, the film On the Waterfront presents two major characters, the antagonist Johnny friendly who embodies the the hawks, and the protagonist Terry Malloy who mutates between both a pigeon and a hawk. To begin, the notorious mobster Johnny Friendly is the best representation of the hawk. There was no defining moment in the film where Johnny Friendly became a hawk, rather he was a hawk from the start of the opening scenes. Johnny Friendly is the character who kill anyone who starts talking, he makes sure that all the "canaries" can't fly, as he is able to bring fear into the longshoreman. He enforces his position at the top and monopolizes his power over the longshoremen like a hawk, making him and the rest of the mob strong, feared, and respected. This in turn ensured that the longshoremen stick to their deaf and dumb oath. In all, the longshoremen are at the mercy of the mob, of the leader Johnny Friendly who dictates who will work,…show more content…
The pigeons represented the longshoremen, many at the mercy of the hawks, who represent the mob. No character better embodies the hawks, than the man in charge, Johnny friendly, and the ability to mutate from hawk to pidgeon, than the main character, Terry Malloy. By capturing the Terry's change, the audience sees his character develop, seeing that no longer do the few hawks rule the many pigeons. With Terry's change, the rights of the longshoremen were reinstated, overturning the mobs reign at the
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