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Analysis of Gran Torino through Salin’s Lens
Assimilation, acculturation, and integration are three topics that are addressed and analyzed throughout the film Gran Torino. Important steps that immigrants need to take to complete their assimilation are addressed by Peter Salin. Gran Torino compares Salin’s four steps; legitimacy, competence, civic responsibility, and identification. The film begins with the main character, Walt Kowalski who is an elderly man who served in the war in Korea and just lost his wife. There are many generational conflicts between him and his son’s family that Walt struggles with. Walt also struggles with the Hmong people have recently immigrated into his neighborhood. Thao, Walt’s teenage Hmong neighbor caused some initial issues but in the end Walt developed a strong and respectful relationship with the entire family. These two unique worlds diffused together and demolished any stereotypes or misconceptions between the characters after the Hmong family demonstrates Salin’s four steps. Walt’s acceptance of the cultural and generational changes is displayed through his new and powerful friendship with Thao. The message of this film portrays Salin’s idea of how “Assimilation, American style has always been much more flexible and accommodating and, consequently, much more effective in achieving its purpose--to allow the United States to preserve its "national unity in the face of the influx of hordes of persons of scores of different nationalities," in the words of the sociologist Henry Fairchild.” (1) Each of the four steps diffuses ideas of assimilation to form the view that change happens over time and brings people together. Legitimacy is the first of Salin’s four steps that produces the major steps of assimilation....
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