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The theme of change is explored throughout the novel Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, Penguin Books 1992, where she confronts the readers about the variety of changes happening in Josephine Alibrandi’s life. Similarly Being Sixteen by Michael Khan also explores the changing of the persona as she grows up and changes her perspective. Change may be caused by many influences, such as family, culture, society and the environment; these influences are shown in both texts, therefore, change can be unexpected and unwanted but it must be understood that change is a natural part of life.
The novel Looking for Alibrandi effectively explores the theme of change, it is seen through the novel that Josephine Alibrandi, the main character and narrator, significantly changes as an individual, friend and family member as her perspective on life changes throughout the year.
First person narration gives the responders an insight into Josie’s mind and reveals how her feelings change towards Jacob Coote and the changes that occur in her life.
As she is “beginning to realize that things don’t turn out the way you want them to” the readers feel empathy and suspense as she narrates her inspirational story. Another technique Marchetta uses to create suspense and also add tension to the storyline is by adding ellipsis which leads up to what Josie reveals to the readers. As Josephine is almost peer pressured into becoming intimate with her short term boyfriend, she stops and says “until … maybe until I’m engaged”. The use of ellipsis illustrates the tension between Jacob and Josie, but reveals that Josie does not change even though Jacob is pressuring her, this adds to the character of Josie and proves to the audience that she is strong and will stand up for herself.
Therefore Marchetta portrays that change may be hard to avoid, although the right change is needed to become the person we desire to be. Josephine is strong enough to state her thoughts and not be easily influenced by others; this inspires readers to be like her. Similarly, the poem “Being Sixteen” also explores the theme of change and growing up into a strong individual, the persona experiences the negative effects that change may have on an individual’s sense of identity. The repetition of “never been easy Sixteening” emphasises to the readers how hard the life of a sixteen year old is while living in a cruel world but also implies that it has been hard for all generations, not just the current. This shows that we as people change, but some things like peer pressure on teenagers may never change and this must be confronted and subsequently dealt with.
This message is also seen in Looking for Alibrandi where Josie’s mother and grandmother experienced the same pain such as people judging and peer pressuring them which is what Josie is enduring. The persona in “Being Sixteen” is “trying to connect” and is “searching for meaning” although not achieving it. The use of active verbs places the poem in the present and causes the reader to evaluate their life and how it may relate to these phrases. The enjambment throughout the poem escalates the pace and shows the lack of control that the persona has of her life; it also confuses the reader which relates to how confused the persona feels. By adding the enjambment, it illustrates the struggles of achieving the desired change that the lonely sixteen year old wants in this scary world.
Michael Khan suggests that change is hard to achieve, and that perseverance and hard work can show positive changes in self-identity. Thus, Khan clearly conveys the negative implications and struggles associated with change. Marchetta uses various literary techniques in Looking for Alibrandi to appeal to the audience and engage them in understanding the positive and negative changes involved with being a teenager, these changes shown in the novel may be relatable to the audience or may be helpful for later throughout the reader’s life. It can guide younger readers and help them make informed choices. The colloquial language used throughout the novel sets the scene, mood and atmosphere of the book.
Jacob says “Mate, I’m not going to see a pansy movie” this language is used so the readers are able to further relate to the language used, instead of using formal language which does not suit the high school world which Josie is in. Sarcasm is used in Looking for Alibrandi to convey in an interesting way the relationships that she has with the other characters. When Josie was having a conversation with her father she replies, “What a ridiculous question. I suppose you’re going to ask me if I like pasta next?” The use of sarcasm by Josie, clearly demonstrates the humour in the novel this sets the foundation for the father-daughter relationship to develop and change over the course of the novel.
At the end of the novel Josie admits to having “Italian blood flowing rapidly through” her veins, this use of metaphor symbolises that she now accepts herself, the life that she has and the family and friends that are a part of it. Josie understands that the change that occurred in her life led to a positive outcome and she now is grateful for who she is and what she has become. Through the changing perspectives of the characters in both Being Sixteen and Looking for Alibrandi it can be seen that change can bring upon experience, understanding and growth. Both texts similarly identify the concept change with similar literary and structural techniques as well as differing ones. Josie and the persona in Being Sixteen accept and understand that change must occur for them to develop as people and that there were struggles while the change occurs, but they must overcome these obstacles to become the best people they can. Overall, the central concept of change is successfully conveyed by Marchetta and Khan in Looking for Alibrandi and Being Sixteen through various literary and structural techniques.
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