Identity In Whale Rider

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“A long time ago, my ancestor Paikea came to this place on the back of a whale. Since then, in every generation of my family, the first born son has carried his name and become the leader of our tribe... until now” (Caro & Sanders, 2003). Whale Rider is the story of a girl, Pai, whose twin brother and mother die in child birth. Koro, Pai’s grandfather and leader of the Maori tribe, is devastated that their future leader has died. Years later Koro is determined to find a leader and begins to teach and train the boys, in which Pai is not allowed to join because she is a girl. In a final test Koro throws a sacred whale tooth in the ocean but the boys cannot retrieve it. Later, Pai dives for the tooth and is successful, proving her right as leader.…show more content…
Three themes observed in this movie are collectivistic orientation, hierarchical relationships, and Acculturation. Collectivist orientation is the idea that the “psychosocial unit of identity resides in the family, group, or collective society” (Sue & Sue, 2016, p. 751). This is presented in the role that Pai is put in. Pai, because of her grandfathers strong traditional beliefs, is not considered for the role of chief because she is a girl. Pai is not to question her grandfathers authority or the tribes cultural beliefs and traditions. “Children are expected to strive for family goals and not engage in behaviors that might bring dishonor to the family” (Sue & Sue, 2016, p. 514). According to Pai’s grandfather, as a woman, she cannot be chief of the tribe even though she has a genuine love for her tribe and a deep desire to lead them. My reaction to the collectivism of the family was hard to watch. It is difficult or see Pai’s desires and Kono’s view of gender roles tear the family apart. It was sad to see how much pain it seemed to cause Pai and Koro. My personal individualistic perspective was somewhat angry towards how Koro treated his granddaughter. A theme that coinsides with collectivism…show more content…
In the beginning of the film Koro goes to see his son at the hospital. In this scene the sons wife has just died and there is a person speaking chants in their native tounge over her dead body. As Koro enters the room the first thing he says in a room full of mourning people is “Where is the boy?” He does not acknowledge the dead woman, or address the pain of his son’s loss. My assumption is that Koro feels an overwhelming pressure to find a new tribe leader. In the hospital he go to see the babies and tell his wife to remove the girl from the room. He does not want to acknowledge his granddaughter. As the movie progresses you can see the bond between Koro and Pai grow but there are still multiple instances where he is reminded of her birth, he brother’s death, and says comments like “You are just a girl” and “You are no use to me”. Koro’s narrow view of a tribal leader puts his tribe at risk as Pai shows great signs of becoming a great leader. Koro fails to acknowledge Pai’s genuine care and concern for the tribe and her ability to lead. “For Pai, the danger is most obviously manifested in her near-death at sea, symbolising the potential destruction of her tribe, should her grandfather remain stubborn”(Crittenden, 2015, p. 88). In the end, the act of Pai climbing the largest of the beached whales, which has a stong symbolism as that whale is thought to be the whale that brough the
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