Importance Of Identity In Looking For Alibrandi

1382 Words 6 Pages
“Our culture, our traditions, our language are the foundations upon which we build our identity.” Culture has a huge influence in shaping a person’s identity, it also contributes to how a person will think, behave and views the world. And in the novel “Looking for Alibrandi” by Melina Marchetta, the protagonist Josephine Alibrandi goes through a journey of self-discovery as she struggles to come to terms with her culture. However, ultimately Josie and the reader both realise that her identity is a product of her own cultural background. This can be seen in how she learns valuable life lessons from her cultural background, and how she embraces her cultural background. This can be seen in how her life and her choices are shaped by her cultural …show more content…
‘I would have gone. Why don’t people do things they want to do? I’d never let anyone or anything stop me” (Marchetta, 1992, pg. 243) With this quote she implies that she doesn’t understand why a person would sacrifice her goals and ambitions for someone or something.
Eventually, Josie begins to understand that some situations can prevent people from pursuing their ambitions in life.
Another example, where Josie learns from her cultural background is, when she comes to understand about her illegitimacy and the importance of being a virgin in the Italian culture. Josie was an illegitimate child, the result of an affair. Her father abandoned them and went to Adelaide, she and her mother stayed back in Glebe. Because Josie was an illegitimate child, the whole Italian community including her own grandmother shunned Josie and her mother.

“The reaction of the Italian mothers to my mother being unmarried drove me crazy at times.” (Marchetta, 1992, pg. 5) This quote demonstrates the frustration Josie experienced due to her mother’s affair.
Due to this affair, she was excluded from many childhood activities such as being invited to her friend’s
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220) This quote shows the changing attitude Josie has towards her grandmother. This was because Josie finally understood the struggles her grandmother had to go through to establish herself in Australia. Her grandmother had an arranged marriage to a man who was fifteen years older than her and who treated her with disrespect. Nonna moved to Australia alone, without any family members. She had no friends and it was difficult for her to fit in with the Australian culture. This explains the reason why her grandmother cannot understand the modern culture in Australia. Additionally, from this scenario Josie learnt more about her historical culture as it was very male dominated. From all these situations, the reader can tell how Josie has learnt many aspects from her cultural background.

Even though Josie might struggle with her Italian culture, she is formed by her cultural background. This can be seen in the way she embraces her background. Josie attends a Catholic school and is able to speak Italian. These are some of the ways Josie embraces her cultural background. As language and religion are vital aspects of culture. Religion gives a moral foundation for behaviour and also provides a formalized structure for culture to be maintained. Similarly, language is the means of communication.
It is a way humans express themselves. And by holding on to her religion and language, Josie is unique

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