Gran Torino

Essay by cadikes November 2014

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In the movie Gran Torino, starring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski, a Korean War Veteran, the protagonist reveals his hatred for Asians when a family of Hmong people moves in next door. Soon, his neighborhood becomes dominantly Asian. At first, Walt is discouraged. He did not like (or understand for that matter) their culture and he didn't like the rise in gangs in the area. His neighbor's cousin, a member of one these Hmong gangs, tries to persuade his cousin to join his gang throughout the movie. Walt sees this unfolding and is not going to let it happen. The boy next door is a very nice, intelligent person and Walt doesn't want him to be corrupted by gang violence. Walt also doesn't want any gang related activity taking place near his house. Walt ends up protecting the neighbor boy, Thao, from these gangs. Thao doesn't want to listen to him and decides to join the gang after his cousin threatens him.

Thao's initiation is to steal Walt's 1972 Ford Gran Torino that he had personally built. Walt wakes up in the middle of the night to hear something coming from his garage. He proceeds to go down into the basement, grab his M1 Garand Rifle, and go into the garage. Walt sees that someone is trying to steal his car but right before he catches them, he trips and falls. Thao escapes. A few weeks later, Thao's family makes him go next door and work off his dishonorable action and his protection that was offered by Walt. Walt, being the stubborn old man he his refuses the kid's labor. Eventually he is persuaded to let the kid work for him. He teaches Thao many trades. This creates a tight bond between Walt and Thao, along with his...