English & EAL

On the Waterfront: Joey’s Coop (Part 2)

by
Lisa Tran

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Plot

The next morning before work Terry feeds the rooftop pigeons at Joey’s Coop. Terry informs a neighbourhood kid named Tommy to be careful around the pigeons because he does not want them to catch a cold. Before Terry heads to the waterfront, he says that the pigeons ‘sure got it made. Eating, sleeping, flying around like crazy, raising gobs of squabs.’

A crowd of men gather at the docks, waiting for their names to be called out for work that day. Despite some of the men’s protests, Pop insists on working that day since he has to make money to pay for Joey’s funeral. Pop gives fellow longshoreman ‘Kayo’ Dugan, Joey’s coat as a gift.

Two men from the Waterfront Crime Commission ask for Terry Malloy. They ask him a few questions about Joey but Terry insists that he ‘ain’t seen nothing…[and he] ain’t saying nothing’. The men also ask if Terry is an ex-prize fighter who retired a couple years ago. Since Terry refuses to talk, the men leave. Terry angrily says to the other longshoremen, ‘how do you like them mutts taking me for a pigeon.’

As a result of Joey’s death, both Father Barry and Edie have come down to the docks to investigate more about the ongoings of the waterfront. The priest says that this is his ‘parish’ and is responsible for seeking justice. Mac begins to call out names of the men selected to work that day with ‘Malloy’ being the first name called out, as Friendly had promised the night before. Each man who receives a tab is selected for work that day. With too many men and not enough jobs, Mac ends up throwing the tabs at the crowd. This causes mayhem as the remaining men wrestle against each other to obtain tabs. Two of Friendly’s men watch nearby laughing at the ‘meatballs’ fight. In an effort to attain a tab for her father, Edie struggles with Terry who is also trying to get one for his friend. After Terry hears that the lady is Joey’s sister, he forfeits the tag. Overseeing the chaos, Father Barry is shocked at the situation, and asks the remaining men if they have a union to protest for their rights. The men explain that that is the way things have happened since Friendly took over. They say that there’s no safe place to talk, but the priest argues that the church is a safe place. The men and Father Barry agree to a meeting at the church.

Inside the warehouse, Terry sits down on a coffee bag reading a magazine – a privilege for the first person chosen from the workers. Charley asks Terry to act as a spy in the congregation to be held later that day. He wants a ‘rundown on the names and the numbers of all the players’ that will show up. Terry says he doesn’t want to since he’ll just be ‘stooling’. His brother argues that ‘stooling is when you rat on your friend’.

At the church, the congregation begins with a just small number of longshoremen. Father Barry urges the men to speak out against Friendly in order to stop the crimes. Dugan explains that the unspoken rule is that all longshoremen are ‘D and D’ – deaf and dumb. No one will reveal any information about Joey Doyle’s death because they are afraid that they may be targeted next. Being unable to get through to the men, the priest settles for a prayer however, they are interrupted when the mob show up and throw rocks into the church. The men inside the church try to escape the raid, but many are stopped by Friendly’s men and are brutally attacked. With everyone scattered around the church, Terry and Edie successfully escape the building together. The attackers take off, leaving a badly injured Dugan behind. When Father Barry discovers Dugan, the latter informs the priest that he has changed his mind about being ‘D and D’. He vows to talk to the Crime Commission – even if it leads to his death.

Analysis

In contrast to the blasé exterior that Terry presents to those around him, the cinematic framing on the rooftop shows Terry’s continued struggle with his guilty conscience over Joey’s death. With his back positioned against the chimney, this signifies that he is attempting to block out the waterfront, and focus on other aspects of his life. However, it appears as though he cannot completely escape since the waterfront structures emerge through the mist in the background. Symbolically, the rooftop is a place where Terry goes to think about his own morals without the pressures of the world below, and this would have been the case with Joey as well, thus leading the latter to spill to the Crime Commission. Terry’s care of the pigeons demonstrates that the rooftop is a place where he is able to be true to himself. For the first time, he is shown to possess open affection towards something, instead of the indifferent façade that all of Friendly’s workers need to uphold. It is apparent that he has stepped into Joey’s shoes as he has taken over the responsibilities of looking after Joey’s pigeons. This also metaphorically establishes Terry as the ‘new’ Joey – the new figure on the waterfront wishes to conduct himself in a honourable manner. Similarly, Dugan is given Joey’s jacket, which symbolises that Dugan will be taking Joey’s place as the new whistleblower. The attack at the church turns him completely against Friendly, as seen when he and Father Barry make a pact to stop the corruption on the docks.

Meanwhile, the other longshoremen remain fearful of Friendly. When the Crime Commissioner chats to Terry, the men pretend that they don’t know a ‘Terry Malloy’. In this shot, the longshoremen turn their backs away from Terry, demonstrating that even amongst a group if colleagues, each of them would rather protect themselves than their fellow workmate. The idea that the workers are ‘imprisoned’ by Friendly is reiterated through the Hudson River, which divides where the longshoremen work – Hoboken, New Jersey, from New York City on the other side of the stream. Since the Manhattan structures are only slightly visible through the fog, it is represented as a whole other world that the longshoremen will never be able to reach, since they are trapped in Hoboken by the river. Furthermore, the tall Manhattan buildings are difficult to identify, portraying a sense of mystery and unfamiliarity for the workers on the waterfront. Dugan advocates this idea as he states that ‘the waterfront is tougher, Father, like it ain’t part of America’.

The powerlessness of the stevedores continues to be established during the scene when Big Mac chooses people to work. When Big Mac throws the tabs into the crowd of workers, it is as though he is throwing ‘seeds’ at the ‘pigeons’. This firstly demonstrates that Friendly has the power to provide a living to whomever he desires since the men fighting one another depicts a flock of birds pecking at whatever they can. The brawl also demonstrates the poor standard of work ethics under Friendly’s reign. The pounding music in the background creates the sense of disorder and chaos, reinforcing the sense that at the longshoremen are at the bottom of the ladder. The extent of Friendly’s control goes beyond the waterfront and into the church – even though Father Barry promised it would be ‘safe’. When the attendees at the congregation participate in a prayer at the church, they are interrupted by a rock thrown through the window. This illustrates that the longshoremens’ hopes for a better future are being ‘smashed’ by Friendly. An exterior, high-angle shot of the alley behind the church emphasises that there is narrow escape and indeed, no place to hide for the men on the waterfront.

Important Quotes

‘They sure got it made. Eating, sleeping, flying around like crazy, raising gobs of squabs.’

‘Be careful. Don’t spill no water on the floor. I don’t want them to catch a cold.’

‘Johnny Friendly the “great labour worker’’.’

‘Why don’t you keep that big mouth of yours shut.’

‘I’m poorer now than when I started.’

‘I don’t know nothing, I ain’t seen nothing and I’m not saying nothing.’

‘How do you like them mutts taking me for a pigeon.’

‘You think I’m just a gravy-train rider with a turned-around collar, don’t you?’

‘This is my parish. I don’t know how much I can do, but I’ll never find out unless I come down here and take a good look for myself.’

‘I’ve been standing here for five straight mornings and that bum over there looks right through you.’

‘Is this all you do, just take it like this?’

‘The waterfront’s tougher, Father, like it ain’t part of America.’

‘You get up in a meeting, you make a motion, the lights go out, then you go out.’

‘Why me Charley? I feel funny going down there. Besides, I’d just be stooling for you.’

‘Stooling is when you rat on your friend, the guys you’re with.’

‘Johnny wants a favour. Don’t think about it. Do it.’

‘I’m just a potato-eater, but ain’t it as simple as 1, 2, 3?’

‘The only way we can break the mob is to stop letting them get away with murder.’

‘I have a hunch all of you could tell us something about it.’

‘How can we call ourselves Christians and protect these murderers with our silence?’

‘You know who the pistols are. Are you going to keep still until they cut you down one by one?’

‘On the dock, we’ve always been D and D…deaf and dumb.’

‘No matter how much we hate the torpedoes we don’t rat.’

‘What’s rattling to them is telling the truth for you. Can’t you see that?’

‘He’s all right. He’s an old man, they won’t hurt him.’

‘They’ll put the muscle on you too, turned-around collar or not turned-around collar.’

‘You stand up and I’ll stand up with you.’

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