Poor Joey. I don't understand why he was collecting pigeons in the first place. Maybe the early 50s were different, and people collected the animals that litter our streets and are infested with diseases. After all, I'm sure there's a sea captain out there that collects seagulls (yarrrrrr), and an eccentric single man in his late 40s that collects squirrels, but pigeons still seem odd to me, especially if they're going to make you sing like a canary.
Terry Malloy doesn't collect anything. He's a former boxer and now has a cushy job working on the loft for the mob. His older brother is even one of the higher up people within that gentleman's organization, so he knows he has someone looking out for him, but not enough apparently because he coulda had class ... he coulda been a contender.
Throughout the movie, he constantly claims he's struggling with his conscience, but every time the girl is around, the struggle seems to wane and he wants to do the right thing. Aside from the chick, the priest helps him along the way (a great performance by Karl Malden who should have the Best Supporting Actor named after him after this role). So apparently the equation here is:
Bad deed rectified = hot chick related to the person you committed the bad deed to, along with the advice of a non-pederast priest.
If there's no hot chick, Malloy isn't going to listen to the advice of a Priest over his brother, let alone the advice of Johnny Friendly. This would ultimately lead to a stronger mob, his brother not getting whacked, and one less beat down that he takes at the end of the movie for "the working man." Sure, he wouldn't have said "pure and hot chick," but I bet there's a gaggle of skanks hanging out not only by the docks which he works at every day, but also the mob bars he would get free passes in for the rest of his life. Being a good guy may look good on paper, but why? Conscience?
Conscience is a killer. Let's pretend it was Malloy's conscience that steered him the right way, rather than his big head listening to his little head. You're obviously not going to get a fantastic breakdown of the psyche hear in my writings, but why is the conscience so crippling? It almost seems as if its the conscience, like gravity, that ultimately leads to a human's decisions. What's really strange about the conscience, is it doesn't make you commit evil acts, or really even fun acts. It's never your conscience that forces you to go to a party, or bang some broad, but it might prevent those. Is this conscience rooted in your upbringing, learning the simplicities of right or wrong? Is it forced into your psyche by major religions? Is it your soul trying to do good? Stupid conscience.
Fortunately for Malloy, and hopefully for many of the rest of us men, it's not the conscience or gravity that leads us into doing the things we do on this earth, it's the women. This is the power women wield, the good ones. The make men better than who they are. If some grub working the docks can go from a failed boxer mob guy, to a pure good guy leading the charge against the mob, that’s quite a touch.