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Ministry of Education.

Learning task 2


As both the main character and filmmaker of Banana in a Nutshell, Roseanne's story is very much told from her perspective. Our opinions of things that happen are shaped by the way she has presented her own character. The following questions ask you to consider the way the characters in this film are presented to us - Roseanne's point of view as the filmmaker should be taken into consideration.

  1. Describe Roseanne's home life. Include the positives and negatives.
  2. Describe Roseanne's relationship with Stephen. What obstacles do they encounter and how are they resolved?
  3. Describe Stephen's character. How does his character contrast with Roseanne's character?
  4. What part do Roseanne's sisters, Rhea and Renee, play in the film?
  5. Describe Roseanne's relationship with her parents. Include the positives and negatives.
  6. How does Roseanne feel about her parents at the beginning of the film, and how has this changed by the end of the film?
  7. What has caused these changes?

Character focus: Roseanne

  1. Briefly describe Roseanne.
  2. What does she want from life?
  3. What hinders her?
  4. What does she learn: about her family, about her boyfriend, about herself?
  5. Describe Roseanne's relationship with:
    • Stephen
    • her parents.
    For each, include comments on what difficulties she has with these people and how she resolves these difficulties over the course of the film.


There are two main cultures identified in this film: the New Zealand (Kiwi) culture and the Chinese culture.

  1. List what is seen as the good aspects and negative aspects of each of the above cultures as discussed in the film.
  2. What is Roseanne trying to tell us about each of these cultures, and their co-existence?
  3. What does the phrase 'Banana in a Nutshell' mean in cultural terms and why might it be considered a metaphor for the lives of Roseanne and Stephen?


There are a number of recognisable themes in this film and they all stem from the main idea of cross-cultural navigation. Associated with this is the idea of familial love versus romantic love. The main themes we will study for this film are:

  1. Cross-Cultural Navigation (refer back to your notes on setting)
  2. Familial Love versus Romantic Love
  3. The Generation Gap
  4. Parent/child relationships

For each of the terms in above:

  • write down your personal definition of each word
  • write down the dictionary definitions of the words.

Using the same list above:

  • list examples from the film which show these main ideas
  • explain what the filmmaker is saying about these ideas.

Sometimes a leit motif (a repeated image or idea) is used in texts to enhance our understanding of the main theme. In "Banana in a Nutshell", the leit motif is the idea of duty.

  1. Which characters feel a sense of duty? To whom or what ideals do they feel this sense of duty?
  2. What things do they do because of their sense of duty? Without this idea of duty, would they have done the things they did? Why, or why not?
  3. How does the idea of duty fit into contemporary New Zealand society, especially a growing multi-cultural society?

Published on: 24 Jun 2009