Racism And Redemption In The Gran Torino

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The movie Gran Torino by Clint Eastwood depicts racism and redemption through the life of Walt Kowalski. The movie portrays Kowalski as a retired automobile worker and Korean war veteran who is a bigot towards his neighbors. This character carries a negatively biased perspective regarding his Asian, and African-American neighbors in the majority of the film. Kowalski meets Thao vang Lor a Hmong teenager who lives next door when he attempts to steal Kowalski’s most precious possession, The Gran Torino. From their encounter, a strong bond between Kowalski and Thao develops through the film that works as a catalyst to make Kowalski redeem himself and change his negative perspective regarding his neighbors. As the movie progresses, Kowalski becomes a reluctant hero when he stands up for…show more content…
Kowalski has a mindset based on racial preferences as he believes that his “lovely neighbors” should follow the lifestyle of an American since Kowalski is a strong nationalist. For example, when Kowalski encounters with Thao in one occasion he takes the teenager to a barbershop to teach him how Americans talk. Kowalski and the barber call each other names, especially using racial insults which Thao is supposed to learn to get the American spirit and talk like a white man so that way Thao can get a job at the construction place. The scene in the barbershop, perhaps more than any other, illustrates the point of white masculinity on display, thus relies upon racism for its raw material. Later on in the film, Thao uses the racial insults he learns from Kowalski for his job interview at the construction place, which are the results of the nationalist beliefs of Kowalski. Furthermore, racism is also found when Kowalski makes references to his neighbors referring to them such as "gooks", “zipperheads” and "chinks" and so many other names. These examples serve to reflect how this character feels about his
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