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Melina Marchetta's "Saving Francesca" Essay

1003 words - 4 pages

In Melina Marchetta’s novel, "Saving Francesca", the protagonist, Francesca Spinnelli, is a girl who goes through significant changes as a result of both normal adolescence and complicated family circumstances. Throughout her first year at St. Sebastian, a school which has only recently accepted girls, Francesca deals with issues around her relationship to her family, making and losing friends, and finding her own identity. By facing difficult situations and learning to trust herself, Francesca transforms herself over the year that is covered in this story.Francesca Spinelli is an Italian girl who lives in a suburb of Sydney Australia with her 10 year old brother Luca, her father, Rob and her mother, Mia. There is also a lot of extended family who are an active part of her life. Her mother is the focal point of their family, always pushing Francesca to be more outgoing with lectures and motivational sayings and songs. Mia also does everything for the family including driving, organizing their schedules, shopping, cooking and helping with homework. She is a force in Francesca’s life and the reason that she is at a new school. When Mia has a nervous breakdown and no longer gets out of bed in the morning, Francesca’s, already rocky world, is thrown into confusion. Francesca has always had Mia’s strong opinions to rebel against now she is left completely on her own. The story is told in the first person by Francesca and she says, “…but today the Mia we all know disappears and she becomes someone with nothing to say. Someone a bit like me.(Marchetta 5)”Francesca and her family have always been dependent on Mia to run their household so when Mia’s depression lasts more than two weeks Francesca and her brother are sent to live with different relatives. Francesca is sent to her Nonna’s, who is delighted to have her. “Stealing one of Mia’s children away from her is like a dream come true” (Marchetta 55). But after two weeks Francesca realizes that this arrangement will only weaken her family and she needs to find a way home (Marchetta 91). This is a real tuning point in the story. Francesca begins to take small steps towards responsibility for her family. She goes to school even though she doesn’t want to so as not leave her brother, Luca, alone and she talks her father through the shopping, realizing that she does know what her mother would want in the house. Towards the end of the story Francesca is the one that, through small steps, begins to get Mia to eat, get out of bed and begin to engage with people.Friends and Francesca’s relationships with them also go through many changes in this story. Though flashbacks we learn that at St. Stella’s, Francesca’s school until her 11th year, was a much more homogenous environment than St. Sebastian’s. It...

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