Melina Marchetta’s novel, Looking for Alibrandi, explores a number of topical themes. The themes that are present are: family, multiculturalism and heritage. These themes are relevant to most contemporary readers, as they may be able to relate to them on a physical / psychological level. The family theme will include the struggles Josephine goes through with her family, such as her father running out on her mother, and the impact on Josie as her mother having a constant need to find someone to fill that void. The multiculturalism theme will include the difficulties that Josie faces as she has a mix of both Italian and Australian culture, which include the themes and traditions for both cultures. The heritage theme will explain the mixes of the heritages of Josie’s Australian and Italian blood.
Firstly, family is a very important theme in the novel because as an Italian family they are very close, sharing just about every little detail with each other. Josephine’s father, Michael ran out on his family whilst Josie was still fairly young. This left her mother in distraught and left ‘nonna’ with a burning hatred for the man. As time went on, Josie’s mother felt a constant need to find someone to replace her husband; she has numerous partners, none of which were accepted by Josephine. It is not until later in the novel that Josephine starts the bonding process with her father, and it is not until then that her mother finally sees the goodness in his heart, and in turn, grows rather fond of him.
Secondly, being a multicultural citizen in Australia is very challenging, especially for one with both Australian and European descent. Josie may have difficulties from other people such as Carly Bishop, as she constantly calls Josephine a ‘wog’.
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