Alfieri speaks to the audience, saying that when he saw Eddie again it was almost like a dream. The man’s eyes were dark like tunnels. Nothing had happened yet, but the mood was tense.
Eddie tells Alfieri that his wife is planning on getting Marco and Rodolpho a room upstairs in the apartment building. Alfieri asks how Marco is doing after what happened but Eddie is reticent. Finally he says he was just trying to get Catherine to see who Rodolpho really was. Alfieri tries to provide him with advice: he has no moral or legal rights to Catherine; she is a free agent. The law is nature and it is natural to let her go. Eddie does not seem to listen to him and starts to leave. Alfieri calls after him that he will have no friends and all will turn against him and despise him if he persists in this.
Eddie is now seen at the phone. He calls and reports to the Immigration Bureau that he knows of two men in the U.S. illegally, and gives them the address. He hangs up.
Louis and Mike walk by and ask him to go bowling but he declines. He enters his house and Beatrice tells him the brothers are moving their stuff up and Catherine is helping. When he starts to snap that Catherine is not moving with them Beatrice loses her temper and tells him she wants to hear no more about it. He begins to get angry and accuses her of not respecting him. She responds that what Eddie did in front of Catherine was wrong and that she is finished with all this; once they leave she wants to pretend nothing happened.
Eddie is quiet for a moment then says he does not want Beatrice to bother him about their sex life anymore. He claims she is different now but she does not agree. He begins to complain about how ungrateful Catherine is.
Beatrice sighs and says Catherine is marrying next week and he just needs to be kind and go to the wedding. She wants to throw a party for her niece. Eddie starts to tear up and says he will go for a walk.
Catherine enters and Beatrice encourages her to talk to him. She shyly tells him she wants him at the wedding. He says he only wanted the best for her and perhaps she should just wait a while and see if she wants to marry anyone else. Catherine, annoyed, replies that she wants to marry Rodolpho and walks out.
Eddie learns that two other boarders will stay with Marco and Rodolpho—relatives of Lipari the butcher. Eddie becomes incensed and says this is stupid because you cannot trust other people’s families and they need to get the brothers out of there. The women are a bit surprised but Eddie insists.
Suddenly a knock sounds at the door. A man calls out that it is Immigration and Catherine, furious and teary, runs out. Two officers enter and ask where the brothers are. They explore the apartment and go upstairs.
Beatrice’s face is filled with fear and she looks at Eddie accusingly. The officers come down with the cousins and two other men. Catherine is terrified and proclaims that Rodolpho was born in Philadelphia. She throws herself on him but the officer tells her to leave him alone and says they will be fine if they are legal.
Marco breaks away and spits in Eddie’s face. Eddie is stunned and lunges for Marco but the officers intervene. Eddie screams that he will kill Marco and he will never forget what he did.
People are gathering in the street. Lipari embraces the two men being taken away. Eddie is frantic and angry and Beatrice tries to restrain him from going after Marco. Marco frees himself again and in front of all says he accuses Eddie—Eddie killed his children and stole food from them. Marco is taken away.
Louis and Mike and Lipari will not look at Eddie and walk away. Eddie bursts out that he will kill Marco.
The lights go down and then come up on Catherine, Marco, and Rodolpho in Alfieri’s office. The lawyer is explaining he can bail Marco out until his hearing if he will promise he will not go after Eddie. Marco is angry and says in his own country Eddie would be dead by now. Rodolpho and Catherine beg Marco to be sensible, telling him he must come to their wedding and reminding him that he has his own children to worry about.
Marco will be deported no matter what, but Rodolpho will be fine when he marries Catherine. His anger is palpable as he says Eddie degraded his brother and now the law cannot help him. Alfieri says gravely that only God can bring about justice, and that he needs to forget about it. Eddie finally seems to accede and Catherine rushes out to get Beatrice to go to the church.
The lights go down and rise on Eddie in his apartment. Beatrice is getting ready to depart for the wedding, nervously telling Eddie she will only be gone for an hour. He tells her not to come back at all if she goes.
Catherine comes out of the bedroom and furiously lambasts Eddie. Beatrice knows she has to stay with him and Catherine is upset.
Suddenly Rodolpho runs in and announces Marco is coming for Eddie. Terror fills the women but Eddie refuses to leave; Marco insulted him in front of the whole neighborhood. Beatrice implores him but he will not listen. Rodolpho steps forward and apologizes, saying it was wrong not to have asked permission to marry Catherine, and that he will kiss his hand. Eddie jerks it away and proclaims that Marco took his name and he wants it back.
Beatrice wonders why an apology will not suffice and only blood will. She bars his way and cries that she loves him. He tells her not to bother him and she bursts out that he wants someone else but can never have her. Eddie is stunned. Beatrice continues and says he must forget Catherine.
Marco’s voice is heard calling for Eddie. Eddie comes outside to answer it. People gather. Eddie addresses the group, his eyes murderous. He says what Marco said was uncalled for after he put him up under his own roof; he wants his name back and then he will go to the wedding. The women try and quell his anger but he says Marco is a liar and knows what he did.
Marco hits Eddie and Eddie pulls out a knife. Louis and Mike try to intervene but they cannot stop Marco from twisting Eddie’s arm into his body, stabbing him. Eddie falls and Beatrice cradles him. He moans, “My B.!” (73) as he dies.
The lights go down and come back up on Alfieri, who tells the audience that most of the time people settle for half in life, and things turn out fine. But Eddie never did, and wanted to be “wholly known” (73), though he should have settled for half.
The events of the play build in speed and intensity as the end nears. In a short span of time Eddie turns in the brothers to immigration and they are arrested, Marco curses Eddie, Beatrice blurts out the truth about Eddie, and Eddie is killed with his own knife. Eddie is a tragic hero, his tragic flaw of self-denial leading him down his disastrous path without anyone being able to help or stop him. By the end of the play he knows, consciously and unconsciously, that he has lost everything, which is why his “name” is so important to him. He stubbornly holds onto this, even after Beatrice articulates what he has always hidden from himself. The name becomes the focus because it is all Eddie’s mind can bear; it is all he has left. He knows that he has violated community norms and ethics but can do little about it, beyond raging and projecting his self-hatred elsewhere. He has lost his sense of self, refused to accept responsibility, and fled from the truth.
The magnitude of Eddie’s mistake should have been clear to him, but his mind is so contorted by his torturous love for Catherine (and, perhaps, Rodolpho) that he brushes any misgivings aside. What he does is an outright betrayal of his community, which is why all of his neighbors and friends behave exactly as Alfieri predicts they will. Miller himself has stated, “What kills Eddie Carbone is…the built-in conscience of the community whose existence he has menaced by betraying it.”
The law in all of its manifestations comes into greater focus here. Eddie follows the laws of the state when he turns in the illegal immigrants, but violates moral law. The law eludes him when he wants to keep Catherine from Rodolpho, and he also violates moral law when he pursues her. Poetic justice, perhaps, is served when Eddie’s own knife kills him; moral law has prevailed. Susan C.W. Abbotson explains: “Alfieri represents the law, not justice, and Miller is careful not to mix these terms...On one hand, there is the law of the land that often is shown to be ineffective in Miller's plays, having no power to make the guilty pay for their crimes or to protect the ordinary individual. But on the other hand, Miller insists that there is a moral law that does operate successfully and that judges both our individual and our collective actions. Miller sees such a law as fundamental to the growth and development of U.S. culture and democracy, for without this, we are protected insufficiently against chaos and evil. Thus, while the institutionalized law can do nothing to restrict or aid Eddie seriously, he pays a heavy price for breaking certain moral restrictions.”
Interestingly enough, Marco also agrees with Eddie that the law is flawed. Arthur Epstein notes, “Marco is a symbol of primitive justice. Like Eddie, he will not settle for half. The symbolic murder of spitting in Eddie’s face does not satisfy his appetite for revenge.” He cannot get the retributive justice he desires.
The end of the play offers ample food for thought. Do we pity Eddie? Does he achieve any sort of redemption? Alfieri seems to think Eddie's refusal to “settle for half” redeems him as a man and it is this honesty (an incredible irony, but nonetheless true) that is worth admiring. Epstein comments, “Alfieri, the romantic, admires the purity of Eddie’s emotions, not the rightness or wrongness of them.”