Belonging

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Humanity thrives on a sense of belonging and acceptance. The most powerful influences that impact on an individual’s sense of belonging include identity and heritage. These aspects are observable in Peter Skrzynecki’s collection of poems, Immigrant Chronicle, which brings to life the cultural plight of migrants in a mainstream Australian society; Anna Spudvilas’ award-winning picture book Woolvs in the Sitee, which details the importance of withdrawing from adverse circumstances, and Katherine Mansfield’s short story The Doll’s House, which describes the impact of social hierarchy on an individual’s sense of belonging. In “Migrant Hostel”, Skrzynecki describes the importance of upholding one’s cultural identity in the face of a prejudice dominant culture. The poem describes the turmoil experienced by migrants imprisoned in a hostel due to their foreign background. We can see that cultural identity plays a major role in relationships and a sense of security, as demonstrated by the simile, “Nationalities sought each other out instinctively like a homing pigeon”, which reinforces the need to belong. The bird motif featured in the aforementioned line serves to illustrate the instinctive free nature of this inclination to people of the same culture. On the contrary, the migrants are physically and emotionally excluded from the rest of society, and the symbol of the “barrier at the main gate” embodies this perception. Additionally, the barrier “rose and fell like a finger pointed in shame or reprimand”. This simile, accompanied by the emotive language shows the discriminative nature of the dominant culture towards foreign cultures. All-in-all, this poem emphasises the importance of bonding through cultural identity, particularly under adverse circumstances. Skzrynecki’s poem “Post card” depicts the extent to which an individual’s cultural heritage can affect their belonging. The poet receives a post card of his hometown Warsaw, and this acts as a catalyst for his...
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