Gun > Penis > Respect

This is a Freudian motif I noticed between the finales of Season 3 and 5.

In S3E13 "Army of One", Tony is arguing with Carmela about sending AJ to military school. Carmela criticizes the school for carrying guns around, Tony says the guns are symbolic. Carmela asks "symbolic of what?"

At this point the word "penis" floated through my mind.

Then Tony said "Respect!", and I realized that the three are all representative of each other. You earn mafia respect through showing "Balls", and through gun violence. The gun is a phallic object.

At another point in that episode, Tony sees Ira Freid, the prick doctor, on TV. Freid describes how he will "augment the strength and vitality of what occurred naturally", or something along those lines. Immediately after this we see AJ coming down the stairs in his ridiculous looking uniform. Tony is trying to augment what occurred naturally, with regards to respectability in his son, by sending him to military school, where he will carry a gun around. AJ also describes himself as looking like "a jerk-off".

This show is full of neat subliminal Freudian shit, and I admire its creativity in the use of the gun as a phallic symbol.

With this in mind I thought S5E13 "All Due Respect" must address this at some point, considering its title, and the fact that it has the same director as "Army of One", John Patterson (R.I.P.). And sure enough, it does. Tony goes to Paulie's house and sees the painting of himself with Pie-O-My, which looks ridiculous, reminds me of AJ in his uniform, and indicates a lack of respect for the boss. Tony throws it in the dumpster and stares at it angrily, and we see some close up shots of the painting. The last one of these closeups is the hilt of a sword, which, based on its placement, looks a little bit like a small erection. This is the breaking point for Tony. He drives up to Kinderhook and shoots his cousin's face off with a large shotgun, thus establishing that he has a big dick and deserves respect.

Return to “Sopranos Symbolism and Subtext”