Melina Marchetta Explores the Idea of Changing Perspectives Through Her Characters in ‘Looking for Alibrandi’. How Does She Achieve This?

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Last updated: April 13, 2019

Changing perspectives is defined as the change of how an individual sees something or someone. Melina Marchetta uses changing perspectives in a variety of ways in her novel ‘Looking for Alibrandi’, highlighting that change is a lifelong process because no one is ever completely mature or knowledgeable, and that it can be unexpected and subtle or gradual and natural. Marchetta demonstrates this concept of change through her characters and certain events, experiences, perspectives and people they associate with.She enables readers to develop their own perspectives of each character as they mature and change by using literary techniques to intrigue the audience and provoke thought about the changing perspectives of the characters. Protagonist, Josephine Alibrandi experiences changing perspectives of herself and others, in particular Nonna and Michael. Josie’s changing perspective of Nonna has multiple positive outcomes; Josie learns to respect and accept her family and racial background.

Josie first thinks of Nonna as an over protective, egocentric grandmother who is only worried about herself and what people think of her, she got on her nerves and hated her butting in. In chapter 1, Josie complains to her mother; “Maaaa, I groaned, she drives me crazy. She’s starting to tell me all those boring Sicily stories.

If she tells me one more time she was beautiful, I’ll puke”. In this quote Marchetta uses tone, repetition, hyperbole, and descriptive language to demonstrate Josie’s attitude and feelings towards Nonna at the beginning of the novel.The repetition of the letter ‘a’ in Ma highlights Josie’s irritation and frustration in her tone of voice, and the ‘I groaned’ justifies these feelings. “She drives me crazy,” and “If she tells me one more time she was beautiful, I’ll puke” are hyperboles deliberately used by Marchetta to further accentuate her irascibility towards Nonna. The word “boring” also describes how Josie feels when she is around Nonna, and the lack of respect she has for her.

However, when Josie was forced to listen to Nonna Katia narrate the difficult life she lived when she came to Australia, she as well as the readers learn that Nonna is nothing like Josephine had perceived in the beginning. Changes in perspective in terms of relationships within the novel are shaped by Marchetta’s use of storytelling. After a spending a night listening to Nonna’s stories Josie says “Another day when I would see the photos and look for that young seventeen-year-old, boy-crazy gypsy named Katia Torello”.Marchetta uses internal monologue to interpret how Josie feels using her own words.

This particular quote at the end of chapter 7 displays the changing perspective of Nonna. It displays Josie’s interest in Nonna’s life. Marchetta deliberately used a number of adjectives such as; young seventeen-year-old, boy-crazy gypsy to describe Nonna so the reader can distinctly see how much Nonna has changed and how Josie now understands her Nonna was once young and beautiful like Josie.Towards the end of the novel, ‘Looking For Alibrandi’, Josie’s perspective of Nonna Katia has completely turned around. Nonna went from being the most irritating person in Josie’s life to someone she is proud to call her grandmother. Josie says in chapter twenty-six “Relief because I was beginning to feel free,” after coming to terms with Nonna’s affair and realising she is not angry with her. Marchetta uses alliteration in this quote; because and beginning, feel and free. This technique provides emphasis and aids in memory because it is catchy.

The syntax in this quote is deliberately used by Marchetta to succinctly convey Josie’s feelings and to represent the consequence of the change in perspective, which includes an understanding of her racial background as well. Another significant relationship in the novel that helps shape our understanding of the idea of changing perspectives is Josie’s relationship with her father, Michael Andretti. Before Josephine had met Michael, she resented him, she saw him as the man who abandoned her mother when she needed him most.The feeling was mutual.

In chapter 6; Michael’s first encounter with Christina, he says to her “I do not want to see her. I do not want to love her. I do not want a complication in my life, I don’t want this in my life”. Marchetta deliberately uses repetition of the words ‘I do not want,’ to dramatise Michael’s evident disinterest in Josie. As the novel progresses, Josie and Michael begin to bond and understand each other. The key event that changes Josie’s perspective of Michael is her dispute with Carly Bishop.

When Carly rudely calls Josie a wog in class, Josie’s instincts told her to hit Carly with the science book that was conveniently in her hand. Carly’s father threatens legal action, which leads to Josie spitting out that her father is a lawyer and he is called up to come to the school. Unexpectedly, he arrives and the issue is resolved. As Josie walks alongside her father with the eyes of her classmates glued on her she says to herself, “I walked past my class-mates with Michael Andretti beside me and for a few minutes I knew how it felt walking alongside one’s father.It was a great feeling. ” It is at this moment Josie has a change in perspective. Marchetta uses internal monologue to describe how Josie feels and it greatly contrasts her feelings at the beginning of the novel, because now she likes the feeling of having a father figure.

Marchetta has demonstrated that change can be triggered by singular events and actions, and this event is the perfect example. Michael’s perspective of Josie also changed on their way to Adelaide; he says to Josie “If I had to choose a daughter, I would have chosen you”.Michael’s tone of voice in this statement is very emotive and touching, this justifies the honesty and truth in what he is saying. By the end of the novel, Michael and Josie have developed a strongly bound relationship, with a lot of fighting like a typical father daughter relationship, who have known each other their whole lives.

Josie says in chapter 29 after being with Michael, “I remembered the same time, last year, when Michael wasn’t in my life. It was the scariest feeling in the world. ” Again, Marchetta has used internal monologue, to express Josie’s feelings in her own words.She also uses hyperbole in “it was the scariest feeling in the world”, to exaggerate how Josie feels about not having Michael in her life. It wasn’t the scariest feeling in the world, but rather the scariest feeling in Josie’s world.

‘Looking for Alibrandi’ is a novel which mostly deals with emotional change in perspective. Through a number of characters, the author, Melina Marchetta demonstrates clearly the concept of changing perspectives. A range of events occur throughout the novel to these characters which influence their lives and modify their perspectives.Melina Marchetta wrote ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ in first person narrative, a technique that uncovers personal ideas, impressions and experiences from the point of view of Josephine. She demonstrates the concept of change not only through the main protagonist, Josephine, but also some other more minor characters such as Nonna Katia and Michael Andretti.

Throughout the novel Marchetta uses numerous techniques to give the reader a particular perspective; the structure, characterisation and themes of the text contribute greatly in the changing of perspective in the novel.


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