Looking for Alibrandi - Culture Essay

Submitted By ItsMinotaur
Words: 716
Pages: 3

“…Like religion, culture is nailed into you so deep you can’t escape it.” (p.175). Discuss how Josephine deals with this topic.

In Looking for Alibrandi, the author Melina Marchetta presents the story through the eyes of Josephine Alibrandi. Josephine is a typical, but effectual teenager who is trying to discover her true self. As Josephine is stuck between two cultures, her family’s Italian traditions and the free society Australian culture, she is left conflicted and tormented by the demands of both. Josephine believes that her Sicilian cultures and traditions are an indispensable and significant part of her identity towards the end of the novel. When she is emancipated, Josie realises that her true identity is not one culture, but all cultures she was brought up in.

Josie is heavily influenced by her Sicilian culture and she initially believes that her traditions are something to be embarrassed about. She thinks that she won’t be able to fit in because her divergent culture goes against the Australian social norm. Every year Josie and her family celebrate Tomato Day, which is also known as ‘National Wog Day” to Josie and her cousin. Tomato Day is a dreaded day for Josie as she complains “Tomato Day, oh god if anyone found out about it I would die.” Josie is embarrassed to be a part of this occasion at the beginning of the novel because it is an event that the rest of the Australian society does not participate in. Josie feels pressured because all of the “ridiculous rules and restrictions” that her culture forces her to live by.

Josie’s grandmother desires for Josie to carry out the family’s Italian cultures as she grows older. Nonna Katia has high expectations of Josie which puts her under similar pressure as John Barton and his parents’ expectations of living. Josie feels that she is surrounded by outrageous traditions and expectations which only become an extra problem for her. Nonna Katia had an affair when she was younger, and in her culture this is frowned upon. She takes out her guilt and frustrations on Christina and Josie. She blames her daughter for Josie being “without respect” and says that her illegitimacy is a disgrace to the Italian culture. This builds up resentment in Josie towards her grandmother. Josie is not only caught up in Italian demands, but also in the expectation of Australian society.

The free Australian lifestyle also is a cause of much torment for her. Josie finds it difficult to conform to this culture because her Italian customs are regarded as unusual for Australians. At Josie’s school, the majority of the girls are upper-class Australians that are still living in the racist past. They label Josie as a ‘wog’. She deals with this issue throughout the novel by standing up