‘Understanding nourishes belonging…a lack of understanding prevents it.’ Demonstrate how your prescribed text & one other related text of your own choosing represent this interpretation of belonging.
At the very heart of relationships lies a struggle to accept individuals as human beings, in order to connect with them. This is the journey undertaken by the protagonists of the memoir ‘Romulus, My Father’ (1998, Raimond Gaita), the poem ‘My father began as a god’ (Ian Mudie) and the short narrative ‘Envy’s Fire’ by Serge Liberman. By its very nature the memoir, ‘Romulus, my Father’ (adapted from a eulogy given at Romulus Gaita’s funeral) is structured as a deeply personal portrait of a father through his son’s perspective. The emotional skirmishes or misunderstandings of the emotionally intense father-son relationship within this text may examined in the light of the father’s characterisation (in physical appearance and the depiction of his morality), the father’s mental illness, the conflict between father and son due to inter-generational divides, and also the relationship itself.
The composer Raimond Gaita is able to paint an intimate portrait of his father through his characterisation of him. It is through this portrayal that the composer may come to understand his complex father, and strengthen his emotional bonds with him, after his death. ‘He would rest his leg stiffly out in front (of his beloved Sunbeam motorbike)’ Gaita writes ‘…and [return] with sugar sacks over each shoulder’. The composer has used vivid imagery to highlight the physical strength of his father [travelling far distances to buy his son supplies after an accident on his motorbike], which connotes ideas of paternal protection, self-sacrifice and love. The notion of an adult reflecting on his childhood-awe of a father is echoed in the lines ‘fearlessly lifted me up on his shoulder’ where the father’s physical strength is symbolic of paternal protection, and love....
In Romulus, My Father, focus is placed on several different foundations for which our identity, and in turn our sense of belonging, is formed. The memoirs emphasis on setting and place acts as a metaphor to reflect Gaita’s orientation of self, which contextualises and explores the challenges of diaspora, and provides a framework for the text’s central tenet, that from suffering, wisdom is gained. Consequently, the autobiographical nature of Gaita’s memoir provides the subjective parameters by which Romulus’ formative conditions of deprivation and betrayal shape his and his son’s sense of Self.
The autobiography offers an unmediated and stabilising exploration of the Self. Throughout Gaita’s piece of life writing, it becomes clear to the audience that the purpose of Romulus, My Father is to reflect on life’s critical lessons. This is highlighted by the composition of the text, which places more emphasis on critical moments of philosophical enlightenment than it does on details and events. Where does Raimond learn these valuable lessons from? Through his father’s relationships, ideals and actions.
Gaita expresses the importance of his father with the quote “I know what a good workman is, I know what an honest man is. I know because I remember these things in the person of my father,” which utilizes repetition to emphasise and glorify his father’s life. Juxtaposition is also used to highlight Romulus’ admirable qualities by contrasting them with the morals of Mitru and Christine, which are considered “weak.”
Although the memoir aims to strip away the mythology of Romulus, the main focus of the text is Raimond Gaita’s discovery of Self, which becomes clear to the reader through the cyclical structure of Romulus’ life. This suggests that although Gaita’s father stays the same, the true change occurs in Raimond.
The theory that wisdom and the formation of...