New Criticals

But even this analysis of the great sovereign-criminal triumvirate is incomplete, for we see Avon, Stringer, and Omar "bound" by other moral considerations. For Avon, it is the family—while the Barksdale name may not ultimately supersede Avon's individual interests, we do see him countless times, though the figure of his sister Brianna and her son D'Angelo, coming up against the interests of his family. Stringer, through his attempts at become a real-estate developer, yearns to be a part of the legitimate economic order. But this "legitimacy" is only possible by the various "illegitimate" means that must be deployed, not only using the drug money for his investments but also the various bribes and backdoor measures he must use to play this new "game." Stringer is distended between the worlds of law and crime, inside and outside, sovereign and criminal.

To add to the layers of the paradox that is Omar, even he cannot simply understood in the paradigm of "criminal as amoral, irrational individual." We see a deep sense of love and devotion, especially through his tears after the death of Brandon and his loyalty to Butch as well as members of his stick up crew. In many ways, Omar is perhaps the most moral, something articulated by Bunk in a conversation he has with Omar: "Man's gotta have a code." Omar's rigid adherence to this code makes him look more like a Kantian deontologist than a self-serving relativist. Though his actions may seem sadistic and insane, they nonetheless are highly rational and internally consistent with his moral code, a fact that might reveal the madness at the heart of the reason of Kantian ethics itself.