Belonging: Culture and Sense

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Belonging is a satisfying and comfortable sensation that an individual feel when they identify themselves as valuable in particular circumstances. This feeling of belonging can be attained through relationships with people and communities. However, the perceptions of not belonging may emerge from pessimistic sense of identity due to being different to the majority and the society’s objection to belong. From birth, an individual’s culture and family are closely linked to the person’s sense of identity and belonging. Allan Baillie’s fiction China Coin explores how these aspects influence on Leah’s sense of belonging through Leah’s experiences and discoveries during her trip to China. The song “Englishman in New York” by Sting depicts both a strong sense of belonging with contrast to a sense of alienation that are closely related to identity, society’s attitude, the community and the culture.

Identity of an individual builds up depending on the individual’s acceptance to belong or not belong to a community or culture, while the sense of identity is what determines the potential of the individual to challenge a community or group for belong. China Coin, through the use of inner monologues of Leah, shows how her sense of belonging changes as she comes to accept herself as a Chinese. At the beginning of the story, Leah does not feel she is belonging to China; she says “it’s your rotten China” to her mum Joan, showing that she has a negative feeling towards the trip to China and does not accept China as her country. However Leah’s attitude towards China gradually changes over time, Leah begins to think of “Joan’s family as her family” and “Shanghai became as familiar as Chatswood”. And she finally “wants to be part of the family” and identify herself as “not not Chinese” which reveals that she accepts her identity and she feels belong to China. The song “Englishman In New York” presents different aspect of sense of identity where the singer strengthens his identity...
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