Belonging: Narrator and Sense

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Humans are constantly in search for belonging, it is something vital to our existence. A sense of belonging emerges from our ability to establish connections with place, people and culture. However when these aspects are challenged, we find out if we truly belong or not. Such ideas are explored in the texts, ‘The Ride of Zhu Bao Sheng’, a third person short story by Nick Long, and ‘Big World’, a first person short story by Tim Winton, which both explore the idea of belonging being challenged and how this affects one’s sense of belonging. Our sense of belonging is derived from the connections to the places around us. One’s sense of belonging is challenged when changes or barriers arise between our connection with place, people and culture. In both ‘The Ride of Zhu Bao Sheng’ and ‘Big World’, we see the protagonists’ sense of belonging being challenged. Nick Long asserts that Zhu does not belong in the place he is in by using irony, making it clear Zhu feels a lack of belonging. This idea is shown through the line, “He was alone in this place. True, the town is full of people…” Here the obvious use of irony is used to emphasize Zhu’s detachment from the rest of the town caused by his sense of belonging being challenged after he moved from his ‘hometown’. Inevitably with effort, he makes a connection to the place. This is evident by the line “almost drunk with the scent of the acacias, and of the dust, and of this new landscape.” This dreamy state implies that a sense of belonging comes after we establish healthy connections with place. The unnamed narrator in ‘Big World’ tells of the differences between himself and his best high school friend in a confessional tone, saying “Unlike him, I’m not really from here. It’s not hosing blood that s**ts me off – it’s Angelus itself; I’m going nuts here.” Unlike Zhu, the narrator chooses not to build a connection to the place, instead he intends to escape Angelus, evident in the line “f**k it, we’re outta here”. The use of...
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