The novel, Looking for Alibrandi, by Melina Marchetta, conveys cultural boundaries that are evident in Australian society. Through the actions of the characters, these cultural boundaries are crossed. These characters are subject to discrimination due to their culture, the strict parental expectations, cultural traditions and events, morals and beliefs. The importance of relationships, family and respect, academic competition, sexual maturity, and identity and freedom are the main attitudes and values portrayed. Melina Marchetta's purpose is to educate the readers on the discrimination of today's society of a cultures morals, values, beliefs and traditions, and that crossing boundaries brings greater self knowledge leading to growth and emancipation. The reader is encouraged to fell satisfaction as Josie Alibrandi discovers her true identity and breaks free of her mothers and grandmother's cultural boundaries, guidelines and strict expectations.The lack of interaction between two cultures is a cultural boundary still evident in the Australian Society. This cultural boundary is represented through many of the characters in the novel. Eg the relationship between Marcus sandford and nonna, Christina/Josie dating Australian men/boys,
However, the Italian adolescents, and in Josie's case, have guidelines and family expectations they have to live up to, for example, after school she has to visit her Nonna, dress, friends and the reputation of her family and the Alibrandi name. This is against the expectations of her Italian culture of the assumption that she will marry someone of the Italian background. It is though these regulations that Josie has to fight, these cultural boundaries are revealed. Respect is a cultural boundary that Josie's family holds upon her, and is presented through the characters of Josephine and Nonna Katia. " Josie crossed this boundary and hit her with her science book. This is seen in the Italian eye as disrespect to her Italian heritage. Josie also shows bitterness at Easter when other children receive chocolate eggs and as an alternative, Josie must help her Nonna prepare for a large family food-gathering event. "We were all caught up in the middle of two societies. " Josie crosses this boundary when she would rather join her friends in other places than to stay and contribute in the Italian sauce-making day. Melina Marchetta's purpose to educate the readers of the discrimination and prejudice of today's society on a cultures values, beliefs and traditions, and that crossing boundaries brings greater self knowledge leading to growth and emancipation. The Italian's and the Australians try and keep separate, and there is always a lack of interaction between, relationships and communication is always minimised. " This cultural boundary is crossed through the unaccepted relationships between Italian Josie and Australian Jacob, and Nonna Katia and Marcus Sandford. " Through the conflict of the characters, this cultural boundary of interaction is exposed. The reader is satisfied as Josie breaks free, unshackles the chains of the cultural restrictions her mother and grandmother place upon her, and finds her true identity.
Jossie's inteligence and confidence are two unique qualities portrayed in this young girl, struggling with her identity. She is a remarkably imagitive young person possesing a quick temper. She is a confused girl searching to find where she belongs in the two different cultures. These cultures, being australian and italian, are very demanding on such a young girl, having to mould herself for each and find an equalibrium of both. She has major difficulties coping with the harsh reality of prejudice and these problems soon take their toll on her. These pressures continue with her living a life in a prestigious private school, battling to balance herself in a middle class life.
Josies aspirations reach much farther than that of her families ambitions for her life. It is at this point in time where a classic example of culture clash begins. Josie feels the need to rebel against the stero-typical female in an Italian culture. This determination stems from her education and desire to step away from her Italian life and responsibilities, breaking away not only from her family and their narrow mindedness but also the entire Italian culture. This is a major leap for Josie who aspires to be the first Alibrandi female to take control of her life. This motivation of freedom is strong in Josie and her rebellious ways demonstrate this.
Christina is the result of the Italian culture and the clash it has with the Australian identity. From the time she was thrown out of home at 17, Nonna has always blamed Christina for Josies birth. Up until Francessca's death, Nonna was forbidden to have any contact with her daughter. this exemplifies the authority an Italian male can exert on the women in his family. Josie would have seen this and binded with her motivation from her australian identity could not stand for such a culture. It was not until Francessca's death that Nonna could be reuinted with her daughter and grand daughter.
Josie's father has had very little immediate impact on her life thus far. When her father did arrive in back in Sydney Josie is naturally angry at him. This is a totally acceptable form of behaviour considering the circumstance, but her anger not only stems from her own personal experience. Josie had to grow up knowing that her father had abandoed her and her mother, pushing her Christina into being a single parent bringing up her child alone. Because of this humaliting fact Christina and her daughter were outcasted from the italian community. Her hatred also delved into the way the italian community treated Christina and Josie through gossip and intentional humiliation of the family. Even though Josie rebels against her father initially, she eventually begins to grow closer to him. This initial bonding occurs when Josie needed her dad, when she broke Ivy's nose. This allowed for some trust to be restored between her and her father, making their relationship stronger and giving them a new start.
Josie is very rebellious to the italian way of life, which has a lot to do with nonna and her constant remarks such as "you brake my heart" and "i derserve respect". She also hates the fact that nonna's friends are always reporting things that she does. She undervalues Jossie as a person by not allowing her to sit in the lounge room with the airconditioning, as this is for visitors only. She is also blames by her mum for anything that jossie does such as "yous let her go out like a gypsy". When she finds out that christina is not Francesas daughter but also a bastard, she confronts nonna and is very angry because she feels the hypocrasy in her argumument. Its not until nonna explains her situation and the hardships she has indured in her that she begins to understand nonna and have some compassion for her; she begins to understand the Italian family life. Nonna also starts to compremise her attitude to Jossie and begins to accept some of the australian ways of life.
Josies life has many prominant issues relating to multicultural Australia today. The prejudice and need to be normal in any minority society is trumendous and this book covers that issue very intesley. But there is also alot more to this novel than simple bigotry. "Looking for Alibrandi" also attacks very important issues at the foundation of the Australian culure. These range from teenage pregnancy to the social hierachy at a private school. All these issues are intwined to create a very revealing book about all aspects of Australian life, not necesaarily from a purely Australian view.