In this novel (Looking for Alibrandi) Josephine Alibrandi is seen as an illegitimate 17-year-old girl who is self-centred, ignorant and sensitive about her illegitimacy and her reputation and what people say about her behind her back. She is also described as confused because she isn’t sure where she stands in life, whether she is an Australian or and Italian, and is paranoid in thinking because she is of Italian background she is constantly being victimised and society wouldn’t see her for who she is as an individual instead as an Italian or an Australian.
During her final year in High School, many events take place in her life that changed her attitudes towards both her self and others, those events ranged from the most life changing events like the discovering of Nonna Katia’s secret, the reunification of herself and her long lost biological father and the tragic suicide of her best friend John Barton to the most least important events like the incident involving one of the ‘beautiful people’ Carly Bishop.
Firstly, the sudden and unexpected suicide of Josephine’s best friend John Barton turns her life around, “The day John died was a nose-dive day and I hit the ground so hard that I feel as if every part of me hurts. I remembered when we spoke about our emancipation. The horror is that he had to die to achieve his. The beauty is that I’m living to achieve mine.”
John Barton was one of the closest people to Josephine and they shared many things in common, she later realises how lucky she is to have to choose her own path and destiny and that some people like John Barton had their life planned out by others for them and they had no freedom over their future.
Although Josephine is portrayed as a confused teenager who doesn’t who she really is and where she stands in society, her emancipation changes all that, even though her emancipation didn’t happen like the way she expected it to “…I’d wake up one morning and see the light. Feel liberated from everything. … Maybe one particular incident would see me through it.” Her emancipation began after she believed she was wrong on what she did on St. Martha’s day and she had put little kids in danger, as a result of that she became more accepting in the fact that you are not always right, and just because she wore a badge saying she was school captain doesn’t make her one, it’s what’s inside her that makes her a leader.
Furthermore, Josephine’s emancipation-in my opinion- was the main reason for her change in maturity and personality, because after she realises she is emancipated she begins to know who she really is and where she stands in life “…asks me what nationality I am, I’ll look at them and say I’m an Australian with Italian blood flowing rapidly through my veins. I’ll say that with pride, because it’s pride that I feel.” This proves that she is proud in being an Australian with an Italian heritage.
Additionally, Josephine overcomes her nature in being paranoid when it comes to racism and multiculturalism, and how she is always being victimised by society because of her upbringing, her incident with Carly Bishop makes her realise that not everyone understands multiculturalism, “I’m not sure whether everyone in this country will ever understand multiculturalism and that saddens me, because it’s as much part of Australian life as football and meat-pies”.
Her relationship with Jacob Coote teaches her that not everyone has a problem with her been an Italian and that it is only a small minority of people who are racist, and she learns that it’s not because she is Italian that she and Jacob are separated.
In conclusion, Josephine makes major changes in her life, which were somehow provoked by inevitable incidences, she learns to accept the fact that no matter what happens people won’t stop whispering behind her back “If I lived by the rules and never committed a sin, people would still talk.” She learns what responsibilities really is about and learns to appreciate and cherish every minute of her life and to not take life for granted.