Grand Torino Essay

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The Journey:
Culture, Religion, and Age

Gran Torino is a film that shows the difference and struggles in cultures, religion, and ages. Through a Hmong perspective, the viewer is able to understand the hardships and struggles they encounter coming to a new country. The protagonist of Gran Torino is Walt Kowalski, along with Thao and Sue. Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino (N.A, International Movie Data Base: Gran Torino).Walt Kowalski begins to slowly integrate to the Hmong family that lives next door. They become a great part of the few moments that Kowalski has left on the earth. The Hmong family helps Kowalski face redemption and find absolution.

Thao is a young man who is not sure what to do regarding the respect he needs from his family. He is struggling to become a man, but cannot become one because he is being put down to do chores that a women would do. The need for a man to take over the household is great, which puts more pressure on Thao. In the Hmong tradition, men are expected to be the head of the household. “Hmong sub group into clans” (N.A, SOC 212--Hmong Family Traditions). According to Hmong Family Traditions, “There are about twenty Hmong clans in the world." In these clans, strict obligations fall upon the husband. In the case that there is not a husband, the responsibility falls to the next man in line. Every time Thao is asked or ordered to do something, he quietly and without whining, does it. This is not what a man would do in the Hmong culture. The clan leaders are the ones "whom others turn to in times of trouble" (N.A, SOC 212--Hmong Family Traditions). Thao has proven to be weak in times when he is truly needed. His sister, Sue, is the one who has assumed the authoritative role in the family.

Thao's hunched shoulders and timid body language restrain him from becoming a man. From a...
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