Noah denkt™ - The Power of Balanced Reasoning
Carmela Soprano’s search for peace and honesty
Dialogue with the Alter Ego on sense and sensibility in The Sopranos, first drafted on June 5, published on
June 6, 2014
Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): Noah denkt™ is probably familiar with the US television series
“The Sopranos” (1999-2007). The show tells the story of fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster
Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) and portrays his difficulties to balance the conflicting requirements
of his gang and family life. One of the main characters in The Sopranos, is Tony’s wife Carmela (played by
Edie Falco) who is so unhappy in her marriage that she goes to discuss the ambivalence towards her husband
with a psychiatrist (Dr. Krakower) and a Catholic Priest (Father Obosi) (Season 3). Her dialogues with Dr.
Krakower and Father Obosi are reprinted here in their entirety:
|Carmela Sorpano talking to Dr. Krakower
||Carmela Soprano talking to Father Obosi
|Dr. Krakower: Everybody's marriage has problems. Is he seeing another
Carmela: You can make that plural. Yes, he sees other women. I sort of
look the other way. I want to help him.
Dr. Krakower: Do you? Moments ago you used the word "divorce".
Carmela: I said I was considering divorce. … I may be overstepping my
boundaries here, but you are Jewish, aren't you?
Dr. Krakower: Is that relevant?
Carmela: Well, us Catholics, we place a great deal of sto in the sanctity
of the family. And I'm not sure that your people -
Dr. Krakower: - I've been married for 31 years.
Carmela: Then you know how difficult it can be. He's a good man, he's
a good father.
Dr. Krakower: Many patients want to be excused for their current
predicament because of events that occurred in their childhood. That's
what psychiatry has become in America. Visit any shopping mall or
ethnic pride parade to witness the results.
Camela: What we say in here stays in here, right?
Dr. Krakower: By ethical code and by law.
Carmela: His crimes they are organized crime.
Dr. Krakower: The mafia? Oh, Jesus.
Carmela: Oh, so what? So what? He betrays me every week with these
Dr. Krakower: Probably the least of his misdeeds. … You can leave now,
or you can stay and hear what I have to say.
Carmela: You're gonna charge the same anyway.
Dr. Krakower: I won't take your money.
Carmela: That's a new one.
Dr. Krakower: You must trust your initial impulse and consider
leaving him. You'll never be able to feel good about yourself, never
be able to quell the feelings of guilt and shame that you talk about as
long as you're his accomplice.
Carmela: You're wrong about the accomplice part though.
Dr. Krakower: Are you sure?
Carmela: All I do is make sure he's got clean clothes in his closet, and
dinner on his table.
Dr. Krakower: So, enabler would be a more accurate job description for
you than accomplice. My apologies.
Carmela: So you think I need to define my boundaries more clearly,
keep a certain distance, not internalize my -
Dr. Krakower: - what did I just say? Leave him. Take only the children.
What's left of them and go.
Carmela: My priest said I should try and work with him, help him to be a
Dr. Krakower: How's that going? I …, - have you ever read "crime and
Carmela: Dostoyevsky? It's not an easy read.
Dr. Krakower: It's about guilt and redemption and I think were your
husband to turn himself in, read this book and reflect on his crimes
every day for seven years in his cell, then he might be redeemed.
Carmela: I would have to get a lawyer, find an apartment. Arrange for
child support -
Dr. Krakower: - you're not listening. I'm not charging you because i
won't take blood money. And you can't either. One thing you can never
say that you haven't been told.
Episode “Second Opinion” Season 3
|Carmela (in confession): I went to see a psychiatrist, father. …that's why
father intintola suggested I talk to you. He said that you were getting a
doctorate in psychiatry from Seton Hall.
Father Obosi: Psychology.
Carmela: The psychiatrist told me that my whole life is a lie and he's
right. And now I think I'm sick and if I die, I will never be with God in
Father: You're ill?
Carmela: I'm pretty sure I have ovarian cancer.
Father Obosi: What does your doctor say?
Carmela: I haven't seen one. I'm afraid.
Father Obosi: Why do you think you're ill?
Carmela: I'm spotting, and lower back pain. My hormones are all over
the place. My cousin Kathy died from it.
Father Obosi: God doesn't punish people for mistakes they've made. He
loves you more than you know. Have you thought that with your
symptoms you might be carrying a child?
Carmela: I know, that's another -
Father Obosi: -- would you be more comfortable if we set the sacrament
aside for a moment and stepped into my office?
Carmela (later): The psychiatrist said that I should leave my husband.
May god forgive me, when he said that it seemed so right.
Father Obosi: You made a sacred vow. Divorce is out of the question.
Unless is he abusive, your husband?
Carmela: Not to me, but he is unfaithful. He's a good man basically,
but I talked to father Intintola about all this years ago and here I still am.
Father Obosi: Do you love your husband?
Carmela: I do. I love my husband and I love God. But, my life is
financed by crime his crime. $50, 000 to my daughter's college. The
psychiatrist says it's all blood money. And now to maybe bring another
child into this?
Father Obosi: God understands that we all live in the middle of
tensions. You say your husband has good in him. What you have to
do is learn to live on what the good part earns.
Carmela: The what?
Father Obosi: There's a point inside yourself, an inner boundary
beyond which you feel culpable. You've got to come to an
awareness of where that line is and forego those things which lay
Carmela: The church has changed so much.
Father Obosi: It's a complex world. Learn to live on the good part.
Forego those things that lay without it.
Carmela: I think I can do that, father. I'll try.
Father Obosi: And go see an ob- gyn
Episode “Amour Fou”, Season 3
Continued Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): In view of the two opposing arguments the question
obviously is: Whose advice and interpretation is more accurate, that of Dr. Krakower or that of Father Obosi?
What does Noah denkt™ think?
Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): Well, to put it bluntly, we would be inclined to go with Father Obosi?
AE: Why is that?
Nd: Because we would agree with him that life is a murky business, that is quite impossible to ever reach an
entirely clean consciousness, and that it is, hence, more practical to look for the less sullied rather than the dirt-
free spot in life.
AE: So you are saying that Carmela should continue to acquiesce to the horrendous crimes Mr. Soprano
commits on a regular basis?
Nd: Look, at least up until the end of Season 3, the Sopranos live in an environment that is completely void of
any meaningful government law enforcement. Instead, Tony and his fellow mobsters can act with tremendous
impunity and poke fun at law enforcement officials whenever they happen to encounter them. In a jungle like
that it is natural for all parties concerned (including the Cusamanos, the Soprano neighbors) to somehow
acquiesce to the presence of mobsters in their immediate proximity. - Yes, one might even go a step further
and argue that apart from the psychiatrists in the show no one else appears to perceive the Soprano crimes as
horrendous: neither Father Intintola does so, nor the conspiring medical doctors, nor the schools’ deans where
Meadows and AJ receive their expensive education question the Soprano background. Why then would you
want poor Carmela who grew into this mafia business quite naturally to react forcefully against it?
AE: Because she is not just acquiescing to the presence of criminals, she is living off their spoils.
Nd: She does. And she is paying for this with her own psychological misery, with her son' trauma and with the
lack of honesty that she is subjected to by her very own husband.
AE: Jees, you sound like Pius Xii and Neville Chamberlain combined.
Nd: Well since you are being so adamant here, let us ask you then how you yourself manage to defend the
high moral ground all this time? After all, you do seem to enjoy playing the devil’s advocate in this project. How
does that add up with your alleged ethical purity?
AE: Other people’s failures should not be an excuse for anybody to let themselves off the hook!
Nd: That is exactly our point. Nobody is ever left off the hook. We will always have to find a middle ground that
is half clean and half murky, half sweet and half sour.
AE: But Carmela is not on that middle ground. She is in cahoots with a criminal.
Nd: She is sharing her life with a man who is a pretty caring father to her kids, who rightly or wrongly sees
himself as a soldier that is dealing with other soldiers who know what the stakes are. (see footnote*)
AE: Do we really need to talk seriously about Mr. Soprano’s delusions about himself and his business?
Nd: Well, the least we can probably say is that at this time (end of season3) it would be a bit of a bummer if
Carmela were in deed to decide to separate from her husband. [P.S.: At the end of Season 4, however, it looks
a lot as if we have to apologize to Dr. Krakower for not having backed him earlier. The violence in Tony
Soprano’s life reaches new heights in Season 4. And it may be time to reconsider our earlier judgment.]
Footnote*: Tony Soprano talking to his psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi
Dr. Melfi: Do you think he'll go to hell [referring to mobster nephew Michael]?
Tony: No. He's not the type that deserves hell.
Dr. Melfi: Who do you think does?
Tony: The worst people. The twisted and demented psychos who kill people for pleasure. The cannibals, the degenerate bastards that molest and torture little kids. They kill babies. The Hitlers, the Pol Pots.
Those are the evil fucks that deserve to die. Not my nephew.
Dr. Melfi: What about you?
Tony: What? Hell?
Dr. Melfi: You been listening to me?
Tony: No for the same reasons. We're soldiers. Soldiers don't go to hell. It's war. Soldiers, they kill other soldiers. We're in a situation where everybody involved knows the stakes. And if you're gonna accept
those stakes you gotta do certain things. It's business, we're soldiers. We follow codes orders.
Dr. Melfi: So does that justify everything that you do?
Tony: Excuse me, let me tell you something. When America opened the floodgates and let all us Italians in, what do you think they were doing it for? Because they were trying to save us from poverty? No, they
did it because they needed us. They needed us to build their cities and dig their subways and to make'em richer. The Carnegies and the Rockefellers, they needed worker bees and there we were. But some of us
didn't want to swarm around their hive and lose who we were.
We wanted to stay Italian and preserve the things that meant something to us. Honor, and family, and loyalty. And some of us wanted a piece of the action. We weren't educated like the Americans.
But we had the balls to take what we wanted. Those other fucks, those other the Jj.P. Morgans, they were crooks and killers too, but that was a business, right? The American way
The Sopranos, Episode “From Where to Eternity” Season 2
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