Looking for Alibrandi

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‘Looking for Alibrandi’ Essay

Describe what Josephine Alibrandi learns about herself, her family, friends and cultural background and explain how her insights enable her to achieve her ‘emancipation’.

The journey of discovery teaches us that while we make our own decisions in life our ability to do so is often limited by our family, friends and cultural traditions. Josephine Alibrandi is a third generation Italian-Australian who attends the prestigious St Martha’s Catholic School. During her HSC year she endeavours to achieve her ‘emancipation’.  Josie’s journey reveals the discovery of her grandmother’s secret and the return of her unknown father. Her struggle with identity, acceptance and the cultural differences within her society also act as a catalyst towards Josie's ‘emancipation’.

Josephine feels trapped between her family’s Italian culture and the Australian culture of her peers. She believes running from this confusion will lead to her ‘emancipation’, “I’ll run one day… Not as an Australian and not as an Italian … I’ll run to be emancipated.”(page 40)  Josie learns from Jacob that her culture is a large part of her identity which makes her unique. As Jacob tells her: “I like that culture in you …and that’s what I’m attracted to about you.”(page 83)  Josie resented her Italian heritage because she believed it held her back from her aspirations as she struggled to be part of the world of John and Ivy: “I want to belong to their world…where I can be accepted,” (page 32) This problem relates to many teenagers as various cultures have traditions that they need to respect. Josie comes to understand that her culture is not an inhibition, but a crucial aspect of her identity through the exploration of her ‘emancipation’:“…like religion, culture is nailed into you so deep that you can’t escape it.”(page175) Josie realises her culture defines her character and she comes to find her place in both of these cultures.

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Regardless of Josephine’s family traditions, her family give plenty of love and support. Josie empathises with Katia’s harsh life, realising her problems pale in comparison to Nonna's early years of isolation, “I’m glad that I live in these times. I don't think I could ever handle the… world she lived in."(page 117). The bond between Michael and Josie doesn’t arise until she needs Michael to save her from legal action by Carly. Her perspective towards Michael changes, thus paving the way for a developing father-daughter relationship: “I knew how it felt walking alongside one’s father. It was a great feeling.” ...

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