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This day is a tradition that all the Alibrandi women respect and adhere to although this tradition is a perfect use of cultural conflict for Josie.
“A daughter’s behaviour always reflects on how good a mother is. Her expectations on Josie to be a ‘good Italian girl’ weigh heavily on the protagonist but also provide her with a great set of well constructed guidelines to fall back on when she feels the need.
Her willingness to drop her Italian heritage when a conflict arose is something that has taken her 17 years to understand and to be able operate but took her mother a much longer period and still is yet to have any effect on Katia as whenever conflict arises or she feels pressure she speaks fluent Italian and is shown to be the total opposite to Josie as she displays traits linked with Australian culture, to the point where Katia is quoted asking Christina ‘Where is the Culture?
Ethnicity-”A complex amalgam of language, religion, customs, symbols, literature, music, food and, as its core, an internal and external perception of difference.
[…] one’s sense of both belonging to a group and being ‘exclu[ded] from the national definition of a country’” (Kee, 1986:7 as cited in Gunew. Throughout the text there are many instances of Josie dealing with conflict between her Italian heritage, her Australian heritage and the mix of these two resulting in the Italo-Australian culture. It is this sort of attitude and ideal of change that gives us more insight into the way Josie deals with her Italo-Australian culture. Marchetta has constructed Katia as the strong Italian influence in the Alibrandi family.
This is a tool Marchetta has used in her writing to display the value for the teenage protagonist to have the option to move from one culture to the other gain ‘the best of both worlds’. Her inability to fully understand and appreciate the battles her grandmother had to overcome as well as the changes her mother has had to endure in dealing with her own ethnicity mould the character. This again shows the battle Josie fights in trying to find herself inside her culture and the continually changing culture she lives in.
Josie’s awareness of the popular preconceptions about Italian girls is evident, for instance, when she informs Jacob that her dress is a potential family heirloom, made of fabric from her glory box, and demands that he avert his gaze from her underwear (pg96) whilst in another area of the text Josie displays the Australia side of her culture by dating an Australian boy (Jacob). Josie’s involvement in mainstream Australian culture through her schooling and some of her friends allows her to see the opposite lifestyle to that offered by her Italian culture. As an teenage girl following a strict Italian culture Josie Alibrandi fails, as a teenage girl following an Australian culture she also fails but slotting in between in the Italo-Australian culture Josie finds her calling.Nancy Tran FOR ALIBRANDI – QUOTES (1992 Puffin edition) “My mother was born here so as far as the Italians were concerned we weren’t completely one of them. 114) “ ‘These poor Australians who are not used to the Italians do not know what to do. Yet because my grandparents were born in Italy we weren’t completely Australian.” (p. Mama, I have already disgraced myself in their eyes and there will never be anything to change that, so who cares if they talk about me? Josie adheres to this cultural requirement and does it yearly and although feels embarrassed to do so continues along this tradition.Josie does question the tradition and asks ‘Why can’t we go to Franklins and buy Leggos or Paul Newman’s special sauce’ (pg 171).Josie later states ‘They stifle me with ridiculous rules and regulations they have bought with them from Europe, but they haven’t changed with the times like the Europeans have’. This highlights her fight between cultures and the forming of the Italio-Australian culture.Marchetta again uses great character constructions to present this battle and it is through the varying ‘severity’ of the ethnicity of the characters Katia, Christina and finally Josie that assist in making her point.The ideology of marriage in Italian culture is shown when Katia explains to Josie about a marriage- ‘Eleanora Castano who married Bob Jones and now they’re divorced. Because he’s Australian and she’s Italian, of course. The second ideology of marrying into your own culture is one that Josie uses when she feels the need, she is quoted as saying “Wogs marry the wogs”(pg 144).This was said in a sarcastic way that was more of a criticism of her Italian background than anything else.Parents of second-generation Italo-Australian girls viewed domestic skills, chastity and obedience as requirements for a girl’s good reputation, which is closely associated with family honor.This is very clear through the construction of Katia Alibrandi and her thoughts of a daughter being the refection of a mother.