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ABITUR 2023 - Gran Torino, summary & character map

25.3.2023

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Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi
Gran Torino
1. Summary
- Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone
- He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want hi

Gran Torino 1. Summary - Walt Kowalski lost his wife and now lives alone - He has a problematic relationship with his Family -> they want him to go to retirement home ->doesn't have a good relationship with either of his two sons - Lives in a neighbourhood that is dominated by Hmong -> like his neighbours - Neighbours: Thao, Sue, their mom and grandmother -> Walt is acting very rude and racists against them One night Walt saves Thao from the Hmong gang -> other Hmongs see him as a hero (bringing gifts etc.). Thao tries to break in Walt's garage & tries to steal Gran Torino - Another day he saves Sue -> from an African-American gang -> they start to get along well - Walt is invited to BBQ by Sue -> learns Hmong traditions and understands them better -> likes them a bit - W. is not in good health condition -> gets bad results by the doctor -> calls his son but doesn't tell him Thao has to make good for his actions with working for Walt -> sees potential in him & starts to like him - Gets Thao a job in construction -> buys him tools - Thao gets once again harassed by the Hmong gang -> Walt threatens them to stop Hmong gang shoots...

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up Thao's house, raped and beat up Sue Walt wants to make good -> gives Thao Gran Torino for date with Youa - - Walt wants to get revenge -> he locks Thao up to stop him to come with him -> W. goes to Hmong - He gets shot -> Walt has no weapon with him just his lighter -> gang is sent to prison - Family gets barely anything -> house goes to church and Thao gets the Gran Torino Characters Thao -brother of Sue, boyfriend of Youa -shy, quiet, polite, introverted, hard- working -struggling to belong -problems of 2nd gen. immigrant - between two worlds -> lives -16 years old -> no father figure (female household) -> very traditional -Walt turns into some kind of a father figure for him and Sue Kowalski family -sons: Mitch, Steve (+ kids and wives) -disrespectful, ignorant -don't get along with Walt -only talk to W. when they need sth -no father and son relationship Walt Kowalski -racist, reserved, lonely, distant, stereotypically masculine -war veteran (Vietnam war) -violence -> mostly with guns -neighbourhood hero -Hmong and him have a bond -> not with his own family -tries to overcome his racist behaviour -> likes the Hmong -sacrifices himself for others -strong sense of protection for Sue and Thao -he finds peace in death Sue -strong and open-minded, independent, extroverted, confident -17 years old, traditional -adapted to western lifestyle & Hmong traditions -brings Walt into her family-> teaches him the traditions -raped by Hmong gang -> W. is deeply hurt -> he likes her like a daughter Grandmother -representative of 1st gen. immigrants -prejudices against American -doesn't speak English -lives strictly according to her traditions Father Janovic -pastor of Walts wife -> she wanted him to take care of Walt -Walt rejects him -relationship develops - church and confession -> goes to Dorothy -Walt's dead wife -religious -lived with him and their dog Daisy -> very important to Walt 3. Gangs Hmong gang -Smokie: cousin of Sue and Thao -they try to get Thao in their gang -aggressive, violent -> own dangerous guns -show dominance everywhere -shoot and kill Walt -raped and beat up Sue Latino gang -harass Thao -let him go when the Hmong gang comes -drive a tuned car -represent typical stereotype African-American gang -they harass Sue and her boyfriend Trey -Walt scares them away and brings Sue home -live in ghetto-like neighbourhood -represent typical stereotype Motives and Symbols 1.Racism - Walt has a racist tendency until the end but overcomes his stereotypes -> influenced by his past as a soldier in vietnam war (calls Hmong 'Zipperheads' until the end) - Ideal of white America - Multicultural society -> different ethnicities in one neighbourhood Development in race relations -> better understanding of other cultures - Seeing people as individuals instead of a prejudice Sue accepts and lives in two worlds Thao struggles to live with his ethnic background - Ethnic groups live in parallel worlds next to each other (Gun) Violence - Gun laws in America are not strict-> Walt owns more than one gun - Gangs own as well guns: not normal pistols but big guns and riffles etc. - Guns are used in order to solve problems -> gangs and Walt - Rape of Sue, harassment of Thao, attack on the Lor family - Verbal tension -> aggressive exchanges - By sacrificing himself Walt breaks the circle of violence -> Thao and Sue are free and the gang is locked up in prison Violence leads to guilt instead of peace -> Walt is haunted by his guilt of killing people in Vietnam war One act of violence triggers the person to use violence as revenge -> circle of violence ->breaking the circle with not having a gun and confronting the gang with words -> they shoot him Masculinity - Walt: soldier, strong, independent, pro guns, owning machines and tools -> knowing how to use them - Smoking cigarettes and drinking - Being able to use violence in order to solve problems - Polite to women Walt is very masculine - Thao: searches for identity, introverted, female appearance -> does women work - Thao's masculinity is questioned -> Walt tries to man him up -> development from a teenager to a young man - Stereotypically masculine behaviour: rough talk, cars, protective instinct, brutality, aggression - Thao: gains self-confidence, a feeling of belonging, an idea what to do with life - Religion - Dorothy's funeral -> Christian wife, respect to church - Father Janovic -> tries to look after Walt, his wife wanted him to go to confession Walt rejects church and religion completely - Talking about life and death -> Walt is haunted by his past in Vietnam war Walt goes to confession -> accepts father Janovic -> helps him to find peace Walt's sacrifice -> Salvation that Walt needed (he knew he would die anyway from his disease) Guilt and Redemption - Walt: guilt because of killing people in war -> never being able to open up to someone or create a bond with his family Guilt makes him lonely and isolated -> doesn't really have any friends - Makes up for guilt: helps Thao to grow up and find a way to life his life better, helps him to create a sense of belonging, sacrifices himself in order to save other peoples life He could die in peace Symbols - Gun: Americas laws (not strict), tradition, masculinity, protection, violence - Car (Gran Torino): America, masculinity, American dream, motor city (Detroit), wealth - Silver star medal: war, violence, patriotism, racism - Lawn: American dream, safe heaven, wealth, Walt's ability to work on his own - Tools: working class, Thaos and Walts relationship - Traditional clothing: Hmong culture - Church: Christianity, Walt's wife, redemption, faith, believe, hope - Lighter: experiences in the war, past, guilt - Cross: Walt dies with his arms spread (like a cross) -> Salvation - Life and death: movie begins and ends with a funeral -> connected with violence in the movie -> father Janovic often talks about life and death Ambiguity of belonging 1. Walt -is a lonely old man without many friends -no bond with his family -lost the love of his life -> life made less sense for him -> feels like outsider in the world -> everything around him has changed -deep connection to his dog -> reminds him of his wife -new sense of belonging with Thao and Sue -> creating a bond like they are his children -conservative values -has more in common with Lor family than with his own -no connection to religion -guilt of war haunts him -gives Thao Gran Torino (and daisy) after death as a sign of their friendship ->Walt regains his sense of belonging through Sue, Thao and his sacrifice 2. Thao -belongs to his family (traditional) -> Hmong culture as well as American influence -doesn't have friends -> his family thinks he'll never be a real man -Walt becomes his father figure -> helps him to develop and grow up to a young man -reasons of not belonging: peer pressure from gang, culture clash, no father (female household), gender role -develops future plans and gains confidence: sense of belonging -appreciates the chance that Walt gave him 3. Sue -belongs to her family -> is traditional -belongs to the American society -> boyfriend Trey -is well-integrated -> she lives in both worlds Walt - widower (former wife: Dorothy Kowalski) - Korean war veteran (-> still haunted by his trauma) → Feels guilt towards his wife ("the best thing that ever happened to me”) and the people he killed in war (at least 13 men, including one innocent teenager) - aggressive, grumpy, racist, old-school and direct attitude - strong need of independency, refuses help - Smokes & drinks a lot, swears, ready to use weapons, violence, owns a muscle car (- > the Gran Torino) -> stereotypical "manly" behavior Unknown illness, coughs blood, knows that he will die soon Character development: - Realizes he has got more in common with his Hmong neighbors than his own family Develops a friendship to Sue and Thao Saves Sue and Thao several times Is a role model for Thao -> spare father figure - Questions his prejudices towards the Hmong people -> sacrifices his own life to make up for his war crimes and to provide a better life for Thao and Sue, to restore law and order in the neighborhood Thao - sensitive, shy, insecure, "girlish” - low self-esteem/-consciousness (easily persuaded by the Hmong gang into stealing the Gran Torino as an initiation ritual) - is under constant pressure - born into a Hmong family, he doesn't fit in the stereotype of a "real man" - suffers from his resistance to join the gang (cigarette, drive-by shooting) Character development: Walt "mans him up" by adopting the stereotypes that were forced upon him → inherits the Gran Torino, gets a job (construction worker), starts to date Youa - seeks revenge after Sue s rape - Sue - is integrated very well (school, has American friends, Trey) - strong, independent, pretty, smart, admired by her peers - deeply rooted in Hmong culture and at the same time a part of the American society - remains patient and calm, shows Walt how ignorant he has been Character development: her optimism comes to an end when she is raped by her cousin's gang -> ending condition: broken, traumatized, hurt Relationships Walt & Thao: Thao works for Walt; though love; father-son/mentor-student relationship; role model; Thao gains confidence due to Walts "manning up process"; Walt is protective towards Thao Walt & Sue: Sue teases Walt ("Wally"); father figure & protective behavior; Sue tries to integrate Walt in society and helps him get over his prejudices; Walt admires Sue for being smart and brave Sue & Thao: Sue takes care of Thao and defends him, she wants him to be the best version of himself, empathizes with him; Thao looks up to his sister Prejudices ? Almost every action in the movie is based on "prejudices" and "racism“ ? represented by the protagonist Walt Kowalski which turned out to be a racist war veteran He insults his Hmong neighbors racially At the beginning Walt wants to continue living his Amercian Dream ? He is absolutely proud to be an Amercian and sees his dream threatened by the immigrants (by his Hmong neighbors) He doesn't hide his disgust against his Hmong neighbors racism against the Hmong family which are created by deep-rooted prejudices Conclusion It is never too late to change for the better and to confront racism and discrimination with humanity and solidarity ? "Gran Torino" shows how people are able to build a relationship from cultural. differences and how this can be influence the change from a prejudiced and racist community to a peaceful and human community ? Prejudice, racism, discrimination and terrorism are still relevant today and accompany our society The omnipresent themes needed to be heard and addressed Connection to the topic "Questions of identity and belonging" • Identity is changeable and changes in the course of life • Identity is linked to lifelong shaping, for example, through the experiences we collect and the decisions we make • Identity is a process => life is dynamic and not static Walt Kowalski goes through a process => his identity change over the movie "Gran Torino" from a racist war veteran to a friend of the Hmong family ? Belonging to the native Country (territorial-cultural dimension) => Belonging to the idea of the nation which combines common culture, language and beliefs ?Walt Kowalski belongs to America => wants to continue living his American Dream => He sees his dream threatened by his Hmong Neighbors ? Migration => first and second immigrant generations ? clash of cultures => language barriers, cultural conflicts, gender- related conflicts ? questioning their identity/belonging Hmong family is divided into first and second generation immigrants the first generation, for example Grandmother Phong, feel at home where she were born and wish to return to her home country the second generation (Thao and Sue) feel a torn between the two cultures (American/Hmong)=> questioning their identity/belonging The American Dream • Walt's American Dream o Takes pride in his cars (cherishes the Gran Torino) o House = perfect image of American suburbia o Conservative values: patriotism, family, buying American, flags, ... Thao s American Dream ● o Very vague, Thao doesn t believe in his future o Begins to take over Walt's American Dream o In the End: Dream is fulfilled (car, job, girlfriend) Sues American Dream ● o Female protector, speaks up, confident and bold o Her own plans remain unknown o She is a mediator between cultures (neutral, understanding, patient) American dream: Owning your own house, starting a family, having a stable job, owing your own business (The ideal that every citizen of the USA should have an equal opportunity to achieve success through hard work) as is commonly known: not at all realistic, America is restricting to certain people (=inequality) and hard work does not work out for everyone, education also expensive and not available to everyone. huge gap between poor and rich, no healthcare system individualism doesn't quite work out as there's often discrimination against people that are "different" (Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+) -> today rather described as the "American nightmare" Ethnic and cultural society The American society o in spite of large immigration waves since the 17th century, a lack of tolerance is still notable: immigrants don't get mixed very much as they arrived in groups and stayed in those groups (clinged together and settled) o white people are the only ones who shrink in proportion and the white majority will fade which scares people that there won't be any Whites left while all others roughly double their percentage in the society o income varies widely across racial and ethnic groups in the US: no change in order of highest to least paid for 30 years (probably even before that) o Asians are generally the most successful in educational attainment and therefore get paid the most o though Hispanics are the least educated they get paid more than the Blacks,perhaps due to racism and racial segregation as Hispanics mostly immigrate now, whereas Blacks are in the 4th or 5th generation and were born into poverty Metaphor of the "Melting Pot" o stands for the acculturation of different groups o people from different cultural backgrounds blend in together/melt o minority groups assimilate and are being absorbed into the main cultural body o problem: giving up cultural aspects and individuality for unity and peace Metaphor of "The Salad Bowl" o nation is a number of distinct groups o the society's diversity is still noticeable as immigrants from different cultures just co-exist and don't really integrate Culture and Culture Clash? o "Culture" a set of conventions(Scollon&Scollon) o "CultureClash"=confrontation between two or more cultures caused by disagreements and their differences (e.g. Columbus and indigenous people); can even occur within the same culture as well when subcultures clash (e.g. youth and old, women and men) The role of gang culture and violence Definition: A group of young people, especially young men, who spend time together, often fighting with other groups and behaving badly, mostly criminals GANG BACKGROUND - the earliest American street gangs emerged at the end of the American Revolutionary war - formed in northeast of American cities 3 main immigrant gangs: English, Irish and German - Blacks in the certain areas - after the early 1820 s, give the focus on criminality GANGS IN THE US TODAY: include several types of groups: street gangs local gangs prison gangs motorcycle gangs ethnic and organized crime gangs - 1.4 million people were part of gangs - more than 33.000 gang were active in the US REASON OF JOINING - to profit from organized crime in order to obtain necessities - to gain access to luxury goods - seeking protection from rival gangs -attracted to a sense of family, identity or belonging -social statues GANGS IN GRAN TORINO • there are three different gangs in the movie Black gang - Latino gang Hmong gang WHY YOUNG PEOPLE JOIN GANGS Identity or recognition . Protection Fellowship and brotherhood • Intimidation • Criminal activity. SUL they said: • they considered fellow gang members to be a family • took care of each other • belonging to the group provide members a sense of belonging and protection GANG CULTURE & VIOLENCE Gang culture from 19th century on (immigrant population, urban areas, poor districts) GANG SIGNS: graffiti, tattoos, symbols, hand signs, colors, clothing REASONS TO JOIN: escaping family situations, desperateness, missing father figures GANG BEHAVIOR: drug deals, owning guns, shooting, violence between gangs, territory defending, threatening people, violence as a sign of power (in societies where they feel helpless and marginalised) IN GRAN TORINO escalation of violence trough, insults, threats, physical violence (Thao being burnt, Sue r*ped and beat up, Walt beating gang members up, provoking them into killing him) gangs provide orientation for young males (trying to lure Thao into the gang) Walt & PTSD (distanced relations bitterness, guilt, emotional numbness) Walt solving problems through violence (veteran, masculinity); seeing how violence taints the soul (wants Thao to not give into it)