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Through You I Learned, Grew, And Felt

972 words - 4 pages

The Gran Torino was first made in 1968; and for Walt, this car is his happiness. In the film, Gran Torino, directed and starring Clint Eastwood, Walt Kowalski is a bitter, aggressive, and racist Polish-American man, who through the course of time learns to accept his surroundings. Through his neighbors Thao and Sue, Walt learns to appreciate and greatly care for the Hmong people. Gran Torino symbolizes Walt’s past, Walt’s masculinity, and the progression of Walt’s character over time attributed to Thao by their friendship.
Thao’s attempt to steal Walt’s Gran Torino created an unexpected relationship between the two.Throughout this friendship, Walt goes from being a racist, bitter old man to a more revived, friendlier individual. During his week of penance, Walt shows Thao the “American” way of working by telling him that “some WD-40, vise grip, and duct tape” is all a needed to fix any problem there was (Gran Torino). Initially, Walt completely despised his Hmong neighbors; however, after learning from his neighbor Sue that they had fought on the American side during the war, his views changed slowly. Walt took it upon himself to raise Thao into a man, by teaching him the expressions most commonly used in America. It is speculated that Walt treated Thao almost like his son, and not only Thao, but he was like a father figure to Sue also. This may stem from the fact that after he returned home from the war, the bitter memories possessed him, and in turn they kept him from loving children completely. This undefined affection for Thao peaked when Walt confessed the story of when he murdered an innocent soldier trying to give up. He never wants Thao to have the “sin of killing another man;” Walt does not want Thao to feel the same intensity of regret throughout his life like him (Gran Torino). Throughout their friendship, Walt and Thao have both matured and grown as individuals with the help of each other. In the ending, when Walt sacrificed his life for Thao, it showed his deep love and care for the family.
Walt’s sacrifice for Thao reveals the depth of his manliness. Masculinity, as described perfectly by Hoftstede, is “assertive, tough, and focused on material success (Culture’s Consequences).” The Gran Torino is a muscle car, and the literal meaning is translated into “large bull.” Coincidentally, during this time, Ford’s motto was “Built Ford Tough.” This shows how by driving his Gran Torino, Walt asserts his strength. The Gran Torino is built sturdy, powerful, and fast. Also, the color of the car is green, which coincidentally is the color of the spinach in the old cartoon Popeye the Sailor Man. Whenever Popeye ate the spinach, it gave him muscles, which is similar to what the car does for Walt. In the “Talk Like a Man”...

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