Belonging is a sense of enlightenment felt when an individual gains an understanding of themselves in relation to others and society. Once the characters belong to their family and to themselves, belonging to society and the rest of the world becomes easy. “Looking for Alibrandi” by Marlina Marchetta and the film “The Blind Side” directed by John Lee Hancock, both show how each character gains an understanding of themselves and their family therefore leading to them to belong to society.
Throughout the novel, Josie’s perceptions of herself and Nonna’s relationship undergo a significant transformation. Initially, Josie does not feel she belongs to her Nonna because of the limitations she places on her. It is only at the end of the novel that Josie learns the true heart-ache and suffering her Nonna went through for her mother. Marchetta uses the intimate feel of a diary to relate to the story of the three women bound by strong ties of family. It shows how each of the women belongs to each other and it also shows the barriers to their relationships.
Linear Structure gives the book a strong sense of continuity and ensures a steady pace of the story line. At the beginning of the novel Josie says “She drives me crazy. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth sometimes to control myself”, showing that she does not feel she belongs to her Nonna. Towards the end she states “I cried because I was loved by two of the strongest women I would ever meet in my lifetime”. The discovery that she does truly belong to her Nonna encourages Josie to be her own person and to live her life emancipated from any rigid stereotypes that are barriers to belonging.
Once she belongs to her Nonna, she then realises she belongs to herself, making belonging to society easier. Cultural identity is a very strong factor in Josie’s life. At first it is a barrier to her belonging to society and she rails against it as being old-fashioned and sexist. She realises towards the end of the book that her culture has made her who she is and what she is capable of becoming. Throughout the novel her references to her culture are often sarcastic or mocking. Josie asserts light heartedly that without the Italian tendency for being chatty and loud “Telecom would go broke”.
Marchetta uses humour to show how Josie speaks with the voice of today’s youth and she speaks of issues that are contemporary and with which readers can relate to. Initially, at school especially, she feels victimised by her race and doesn’t belong. She is bitter and resentful to those not like her and often resorts to physical abuse in response to ‘wog’ insults. “Simply because like religion, culture is nailed into you so deep you can’t escape it”. This conveys that even though sometimes Josie wishes she wasn’t Italian that makes her who she is.
After she learns to accept that towards the end of the novel, she starts to belong to herself and to her culture and then making it easier to belong to her school. At first Josie does not feel as if she belongs to her family, however she comes to a realisation that her culture isn’t a barrier to her belonging; she can then belong to herself and to society. Just like Josie, Michael Oher realises that his race isn’t a barrier to belonging to his family, he belongs to himself and he becomes accepted in society.
Courtney from Study Moose
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