Life is full of challenges. No-one’s life is ever totally free of troubles or struggles. People have to deal with illness, disappointment in love and relationships, natural disasters, war, even death. No one can grow in “self knowledge’ and “self identity’ without facing up to the challenges of life. Three major characters in Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi face up to the challenges put before them and the extent to which they grow in self-knowledge and self-identity. These characters are Josephine Alibrandi, Nonna Katia and John Barton. Josephine faces several challenges. She feels that she is out of place at school “? a “wog girl’ at an exclusive eastern suburbs school full of “blond yuppies or European trendies’. (Marchetta p18). Girls like Carly Bishop bully her “? in a low-key way – but she refuses to be put down by them. She challenges their superior views and ends up breaking Carlys nose by hitting Carly with a science book. (Marchetta p82) By hard work and determination she is able to not just hold her place at school but to be one of the best students. Another challenge is coming to terms with her family, especially her grandmother. Her grandmother is always on her back about where Josie is and whom she is seeing. Josie feels like there’s a spy network watching over her every move “Signora Formosa saw you, she said you and your friends almost ran her over. She told Zia Patrizia’s next-door neighbor and it got back to Nona” Telecom would go broke if it weren’t for the Italians (Marchetta p11). When she goes out with Jacob Coote she knows that her grandmother will not approve because he is not an Italian boy. But she comes to realize that her family loves her and wants the best for her. As she says at the end of the novel, “I will sit between tow women. The two most influential women in my life, whose relationship was almost destroyed by one man (Christina’s father)…
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