The U.S gangsters The theme of the novel Wise Guy is about nobility and how respectful and noble one is. The entire book is about how Henry Hill a boy who grew up in the gangster lifestyle adapts from being a normal kid to a wise guy. The author uses various conflicts between Henry and the other characters to show the theme. The mafia works in one way and one way only. At the top there is the Super boss or boss, after that there is an under boss, under that is the financial organizer who deals with the finances for the mafia and at the bottom is the non-Sicilian or non- Italian person who does hits and jobs. Anyone under these people is considered acquaintances. The respect is highest at the top of the list, so the Boss gets the most respect and it descends all the way down the list.
But the highest possible person above the boss would be the godfather. He gets the most respect and only deals with the biggest issues and problems that are going on in the mafia. If the godfather had a problem he would send the boss to take care of it, then the boss would send one of his men. Out of respect the man he sent would have to do the job. Within the mafia nobility is the greatest thing to have. Nobility gains trust, and trust gets you higher up in the rankings of the mafia. The author of this book, Nicholas Pileggi demonstrates how nobility gets trust when Henry does not say a word to the police when he is caught for selling cigarettes. He was noble to his boss and this gained him trust so he could go out and do bigger and better jobs with them. He shows how one inexperienced kid can be a successful noble mob acquaintance. But that nobility goes away towards the ending when Henry must chose to not sell his friends out and possibly be killed or take off, be in the Witness Protection Agency and sell out his friends. He ends up choosing to sell them out and taking off. Which is a wise decision considering he would have probably ended up dead otherwise. The character that was thought of to be of most nobility would have been Henry but he ruined him reputation at the end. The drugs that Henry sold to people were a symbol or an image for lack of respect and nobility towards Paulie. Paulie was the head boss, the one who should be given the most respect. Paulie told Henry not to get into selling drugs as a way to get money. But right after Paulie tells Henry that, Henry goes right behind his back and sells drugs. Which shows his lack of respect. When Paulie found out about the drugs, he turned his back on him.