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‘Looking for Alibrandi’ essay Essay

Essay question: Family has a strong influence on our lives. It affects the way we view ourselves and those around us. How has family influenced Josephine and what impact does it have?Family is one of our main influences in our lives, although we are not always aware of it. It shapes the people we are and the choices we make in our lives. In the text ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ by Melina Marchetta, Josephine Alibrandi is seeking to be free from the world and its misunderstood societal regulations throughout her twelfth year of high school – the year of change and new ways of thinking. Throughout her journey, her family influences her way of thinking. She grows and learns through family and structure, accepting her Italian heritage and family members. Family shows who she is, and by accepting that, Josie is able to live freely to the life she dreamed of, although not in the way she originally expected. Throughout the book, family influences Josephine to reach her goal of emancipation, creating a connected family and a liberated perspective on life.

Throughout the book, Josie’s way of thinking changes immensely, from negativity towards her family and culture, to a new understanding and perspective towards life. This is the effect from family, personal experiences, and sharing truths and feelings. Which teaches Josie how she feels about her culture, family and find the part of herself which is embedded in her family. Showing that her family influences and changes the way she feels about life and gives her a new perspective towards it. As the book progresses, Josephine learns to appreciate family – the sacrifices they make her, her Italian heritage and the community of family. Josie became respectful and thankful towards her family as apposed to resentful, because they loved her and her individuality. This has influenced Josie to learn her own truths, make her own rules and way of life, but most importantly, to figure out where her place in life is, ‘I know where my place in life is. It’s not where the Seras or the Carlys of the world have slotted me…

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.’ (page 259). Once Josie realises that her family had confided with her and had sacrificed all these things for her and the Alibrandi/Andretti name, she took action, to change her life for herself and her family, to be a better person. ‘A lot has changed at home… Maybe because I’ve changed.’ (page 259), this shows that from what her family has taught her, Josephine has changed for the better. Maybe not in the way she expected to, but in the way she can learn to accept herself and her family, which has changed her family life to a more loving, excepting community.

Every family has structure, just like Josephine’s family. Josephine’s family has a very significant structure, which is generally influenced by their Italian culture and society, making them blind to Josephine’s way of life, “They stifle me with their rules and regulations they have bought with them from Europe, but they haven’t changed with the times… There’s always someone I have to respect.” (p40). This indicates that Josie’s family is stuck in the old Italian ways, so ignorant and stubborn. Expecting respect even though they have done nothing but age, “I am an old woman now and I deserve respect.” (p36). This is why Josie dislikes the culture and traditions, because she feels that those traditions are what hold her down and not let her live the free life she dreams of.

But through experiences and feel she can not do anything that she wants with her life, her family will always look down upon her, only remembering the bad things and they will always talk, no matter what which is what Josie learns to accept “…I think that if I lived like a saint and walked with two feet in one shoe; If I wore the clothes of St Francis of Assisi and suffered like a martyr; if I lived by the rules and never committed a sin, people would still talk. Because human nature. They’ll always, like me, find someone to talk about.” (p261). Culture and its traditions is another thing Josie’s family is buried in, which brings Josie down with it as well, Josie: “Culture is nailed into you so deep you can’t escape it.” (p175). All this is what holds Josie down from being free and doing what she wants.

Family in Josephine’s life is what influences Josie to who she is and what decisions and actions she makes. Even though her family is who she thinks has trapped her life and social standing under the floor, Josie can not help the fact that family and culture and traditions and wealth is what makes Josie the person she is. And it is not until she realises this is when her emancipation can happen. “I just sat there thinking back on the year and I realised that I was emancipated long ago… I remember feeling socially out of it at St. Martha’s, yet when the… walk-a-thon happened, I realised I wasn’t. I thought my birth circumstances were a cross I’d bear for the rest of my life, but… it had never been my cross. I had only made it mine.” (p258) Josie feels emancipated because she had taken the time to reflect back and look at the bigger picture.

She realised that she didn’t care what people though of her anymore because what difference is it really going to make in her life. Josie will always be Josie, and no matter how much others disagree it can’t change her, “You can’t hate what you are a part of. What you are.” (p152). Her family will always be the ones who she will look up to, “And I cried because I was loved by two of the strongest women I would ever meet in my lifetime.” (p226) These strong characteristics are what have influenced Josie the most to stand up for herself and be strong for herself.

“You know a wonderful thing happened to me when I reflected back on my year. ‘One day’ came. Because I finally understood.” (p261), throughout her journey Josie learns through her family a new way of thinking, she grows and learns through family influences and family structure, accepting her Italian heritage and family members. Family shows who she is, and by accepting that, Josie is able to live freely to the life she dreamed of, although not in the way she originally expected. Throughout the book, family influences Josephine to reach her goal of emancipation, creating a connected family and a liberated perspective on life.


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