Windows divide the outer, public world from the inner realm of the home. As a boundary, the window is fragile and permeable, and too often windows become an easy entry point for bullets. A shot of a fluttering curtain, a sign of the outer world invading the private space of the home, often anticipates an eruption of violence. In Part II, for instance, the window curtains of Michael’s bedroom flutter, and moments later a barrage of bullets rains down upon him and Kay. A window can also function as a screen through which a character sees the world, and onto which a character projects his thoughts. When young Vito, upon arriving in America, is quarantined on Ellis Island, he sits on the little chair in his cell and gazes out the window at the Statue of Liberty. For three months, this vista is the closest he will come to American freedom. At the end of Part II, Michael, who spends countless hours in his glass-enclosed Tahoe boathouse, stands before the walls and looks out on the water as his brother Fredo is killed. In the case of young Vito, the window looks onto what he desires but cannot have. In the case of the boathouse, the window is an insufficient wall to protect Michael from ugly, painful reality.
In the Godfather trilogy, doors separate women from men. Most of the doors we see are interior doors within houses. They separate one room from another, and they divide the home between the male domain of business and the female realm of family. Whenever men have business to discuss, they close the door to the study and shut the women out. Front doors, entryways to houses, are rarely seen, but when they are, they are even more solid boundaries against female freedom. When Michael discovers Kay visiting the children after she’s left him in Part II, he closes the door in her face. Similarly, Kay is prevented from leaving the compound in Part II when Michael is in hiding. Throughout the Godfather trilogy, a woman needs a man’s permission to cross through any door.
Chairs serve many purposes in the Godfather trilogy, but what unites them all is the sitter’s solitude. Above all else, the chair is a symbol of isolation. The most obvious function of a chair is that of a throne. The Godfather sits in a chair as suppliants pay their respects and kiss his hand. Remaining seated while others stand is a way of asserting power. Chairs are also places of contemplation. The young Vito sits in a chair to gaze upon the Statue of Liberty from his Ellis Island cell. Michael sits in the chair in his boathouse at the end of Part II as his memory leads him back to the day he enlisted for the war. In that memory, he remains fastened to his chair as the rest of the family goes to the door to greet Vito. Chairs are also places of death. A number of characters die while sitting, most notably Michael, who falls dead from the chair on which he’d been sitting in the yard of his Sicilian villa.