The need to belong is a human phenomenon that is the underlying cause of our actions. As humans, we search for like-minded people with whom we can find a sense of ourselves as people. This is a product of the fact that belonging is integral to the formation of one’s identity. However, a sense of belonging is often achieved by following a path of alienation. Similarly, alienation leads to disillusionment with that (verbose line) which one once believed in. Apocalypse Now directed by Francis Coppola, John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat and Peter Skrzynecki’s poetry all deal with these three dimensions of belonging.
Belonging and acceptance is integral to the formation of one’s identity. Peter Skrzynecki’s poem 10 Mary Street illustrates the security and comfort that is a product of a sense of belonging. In this case, it is a sense of belonging to a family routine that occurs daily at number 10 Mary Street. The mundanity of the routine provides stability and familiarity. Skrzynecki uses time frames such as “5pm” and “For nineteen years” to establish a sense of repetition and order in the reader’s mind. Collective pronouns such as “we” connote collaboration and inclusion in the family sphere. This family inclusivity allows the poet to establish his identity at an early age in a place in which he belongs, as shown when he describes him wandering in the garden after school. The simile “like a hungry bird” shows (avoid using ‘show’ repetitively) him to be curious and boisterous. It connotes a healthy organic childhood. In the second stanza of the poem, Skrzynecki uses images of growth and nurturing to suggest a loving family environment and a sense of belonging to the land. The quiet “hum-drum” of daily routines, such as washing clothes and gardening, suggests that the house and Skrzynecki’s parents rarely change. This conjures an image of immense strength and solidarity. Skrzynecki establishes his childhood home as an enduring sphere of safety. He does this by personifying the house “in its china-blue coat” as a friend and part of the family. The home is a place in which to remember their Polish heritage. The repetition of the line “for nineteen years” illustrates the length of time that his family have been paying homage to their ancestry to as they “kept pre-war Europe alive.” The use of the Polish word “Kielbasa” not only adds authenticity and depth to the poem but reinforces the idea that, though Skrzynecki’s family has moved away from war-torn Poland to Australia, they still firmly belong to their Polish heritage and there is a link for them and their family through which to establish their identities in their new land. The poet mourns the passing of his childhood and the destruction of the home in which he learnt the nature of growing up caught between two cultures and the rift between the past and the future. This notion is further explored in Apocalypse Now. Colonel Kurtz was the pride of the American Military Command. Having broken from the decrepit and corrupt school of thought that was the US army, Kurtz establishes his god-like rule over a clan of like-minded natives in the jungles of Cambodia. His character extrapolates all issues surrounding America as a nation, from war crimes to environmental stability. In one of the most compelling scenes of the film, Kurtz expresses his thoughts to Willard, one of the first Americans he has encountered since his dissent. He speaks of his son at home and his fear that if he were to be killed, his son would not understand his father’s actions. At this point, the extended close up shot of Kurtz’s face, half shrouded in darkness, changes slightly as he moves further into the light. This conveys that Kurtz still holds onto the hope that his son will one day come to understand his identity and why he acted in the way that he did. Kurtz is not ashamed of his actions because ultimately, he has fully formed his identity. First he was transformed on the battlefields of Vietnam by the...
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