Melina’s Marchetta Looking for Alibrandi

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“I’ll run one day. Run for my life. To be free and think of myself. Not as an Australian and as an Italian and not as an in between. I’ll run to be emancipated. ” Discuss. Looking into the distance, an athlete runner can see the finishing line. However what stands before them are many hurdles one will have to jump over to reach the end. Comparing this analogy to an individual’s life, these hurdles are like the various challenges that one will have to overcome to cross their finishing line, and in order to come first, one will have to run.

Melina Marchetta has written a novel, Looking for Alibrandi (LFA), which portrays the events that can waver a character from their finishing goal, their goal to achieve true freedom. It is situations such as the social class, identity and cultural difference Marchetta refers to enabling the growth of the character, of them becoming their own individual, throughout the novel. In society, back then and now, there is always some sort of categorisation of individuals in society. Someone’s culture, religion, and status. How someone treats one another can be influenced through social class.

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Lee Taylor and Josephine Alibrandi (Josie) are from the same friendship group. They both are middle-class scholarship students, and both suffer from similar life situations. Even though Lee’s character in the novel does not come from an Italian family, known in the novel to be a family of “wogs”, she can still see and experience the injustice from the problem of social catergorising. “If your father is a dustman, you’re going to be a dustman. If your father is filthy rich, you’re going to be filthy rich because he’ll introduce you to his friend’s son. ” (p. g. 44). lee was suffering from an adolescent problem of realising she has no plans after her high school life. She was fixated around the idea that once an individual is born into a class, one will never be able to escape. She further explores this through saying … the rich marry the rich, Josie. The dags marry the dags, and the wogs marry the wogs…” This implies to both their parents and Josie’s newly formed relationship with Jacob Coote, her boyfriend. Through the use of repetition, Marchetta was able to show how very conservative and naive society was back then.

Everything done in one’s daily life was based around the social class they are from, and looking at Lee’s experience, she feels as if her life is not heading into any direction due to this. Hence Marchetta has created a character that is unable to run anywhere because of the society’s views on her and her status. Furthermore this theme is seen through Josie and Ivy. Ivy and Josie were enemies ever since Josie’s first day at St Marthas. Ivy was the typical Anglo-Saxon Australia with “perfect white skin and not a split end in her strawberry blonde hair. (p. g. 20) Whilst Josie is seen as an ordinary teenage girl is an Italian-Greek descent who “… wanted to be part of their society…” (p. g. 5), “their” referring to Ivy and her friends. Josie never completely understood herself, or only though she did. It was because of how society treated her because of her background. Josie never felt as if she belonged in school community as she described it as an environment filled with snobs. There were requirements in order to belong: “money, prestige and what your father did for a living.

If your hair was not in a bun or your mum did not drive a Volvo, you’re a nobody. ” (p. g. 21) Through listing, Marchetta was able to single out the ignorance and snobby behaviour through how the high-class Anglo-Saxon saw her and the treatment she received for being in the lower class. The Anglo-Saxons back then were considered the most rich ad powerful race, everyone wanted to be an Anglo-Saxon, everyone wanted to have an Anglo-Saxon friend. Comparing how Josie is being treated because of her background and to the treatment and Anglo-Saxon receives, there is no reason to see why Josie wants to run away.

Run from the disrespect and disadvantages of being in the lower-class of society. Through the two examples provided, Lee and Josie’s separate experience, both from very different cultures but are considered to both have the same status in society – these two characters are running away from their culture and the family due to the judgmental views from society. Not only does this mean they are running from themselves; considering how society is focused on an individual’s class, these characters are running from their true goal also – in becoming an independent individual.

One’s identity is about understanding themselves and knowing what they want in life. Jacob Coote had everything planned out in his life, that was before Josie entered his life. “Because I’m fooling myself, I used to be proud of not getting high marks. ‘who cares? ’ I used to say. Because I’m going to be a mechanic, I didn’t care what marks I got. But ever since you, it’s got to me…” (p. g. 249) Jacob was portrayed as a character who lived his lief freely. It was until Josie influence him causing his to think twice about his future.

Jacob not being an Italian descent has less stress placed on him. He did not care about what people thought about him, and this is seen clearly through his carefree lifestyle. Through the use of rhetorical question “Who cares? ”, she was able to display the true thoughts and emotions of the character. To show how much Jacob has grown because of a different cultural belief, through Josie, and to incorporate the reader’s empathy towards him. John was always on a run in his life. It was Josie who pulled him back to reality, back from the partying.

She helped him jump a hurdle along his course to his finishing line. Not only did this relationship help Jacob, Josie also benefited. Josie was the opposite of Jacob, she was a girl who lived a life by strict regulations. However when she was around Jacob she was able to experience a carefree and wild life, in addition she had life questions thrown at her. “… Sometimes I’m not sure if I want to be a barrister… But I’m optimistic. ” (p. g. 260) Back in the beginning of the novel LFA, it was seen that Josie had everything planned out in life “… nd next year I plan to study law…” (p. g. 8). As the novel progresses Josie has encounter many challenges, hurdles. Such events were the meeting of her father for the first time and being in an intimate relationship with Jacob, was that she realises to become the independent individual she wants to be, she will have to stop running away from herself but towards herself. Through the use of low modality language, Melina Marchetta was able to thoroughly show the growth of a character from how they saw life in the beginning to how they saw life in the end.

Marchetta has created a character who was once in doubt of herself, and had a defeatist view of life to a character who now realises herself and has an adventurous and optimistic road ahead. Josie has jumped the first set of hurdles to her long race track in life; she is now free and no longer live a life running in the wrong direction. In both example’s it had shown two characters who were sidetracked by the overly large number of challenges thrown at them. Also each at the beginning of the novel thought they knew what they were doing in life.

However each of their views changed as both character’s relationship with one another developed. A life is not all about running away to be free. Sometimes you will have to stop and to only realise that you’re running in the wrong direction. Melina Marchetta has successfully portrayed this in both Jacob and Josie. When someone is born into a culture, there is no possible way to escape from it. An example from the novel LFA is how Carly Bishop, an Anglo-Saxon Australian who had a dislike for the Italian community ever since she was introduced. “… And you’re more than a wog, Josie. If you know what I mean. Josie further explored this concept through retaliating by throwing a science book a Carly. Josie never understood why being an Italian was such a bad thing. Since at a young age she was constantly teases, “… no you’re an Australia… no you’re a wog…” and it was through these sayings that moulded Josie to the self-cautious person she is now. Marchetta uses Carly Bishop to represent the Anglo-Saxon community, and Josie to represent the Italian community. The anglo-Saxon community as mentioned always had more power whilst the Italians didn’t. Marchetta clearly displayed this through the actions of both Carly and Josie.

Josie being born an Italian-Greek descent in the country of Australia was confused in whether she is an Australian or not. She is sensitive about this issue causing her to shut herself from the world. She feels the need to hide her culture, hence she is running away from something that is a part of her. It was only later in the novel that she realises in order to defeat this challenge it was to jump the hurdle of society’s views on her and was able to embrace her culture, redefining her heritage. One by one the hurdles along the athlete runner’s path are jumped over, the runner is approaching their finishing line.

Melina Marchetta had thoroughly shown that in order to achieve emancipation, an individual will have to run towards themselves not away. This is seen through the social categorising in the character’s daily lives, one’s identity that the character’s find, and the cultural difference that will make the individual different from one another. At the end of the day, every human being in the world all have a goal, and that goal is to be completely free. And many will have to run to this goal, run to be emancipated, run towards themselves.

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Melina’s Marchetta Looking for Alibrandi. (2017, Jan 21). Retrieved from

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