Belonging Peter Skrzynecki

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Belonging can emerge from connections with people, places and communities. Without these connections individuals can often find it very challenging to find somewhere or something to belong to. Individuals’ attitudes, beliefs and values can also impact on the degree to which they can or allow themselves to connect to something. These challenges are shown to be faces by individuals in Peter Skrzynecki’s Immigrant Chronicle poems 10 Mary Street, St Patricks College, Feliks Skrzynecki and also in the movies Legally Blonde with main character Elle Woods and in The Pursuit of Happyness with main character Chris Gardner.

For the Skrzyneckis migrating from Poland to Australia was a huge unwanted change. They were faced with moving from somewhere where they had a large amount of connections to a place where they had no sense of belonging. For the Skrzyneckis’ 10 Mary Street was a house that was able to provide them with things that they wanted and needed to connect and belong somewhere within the Australian culture. The house enabled the Skrzyneckis’ to develop aspects of feelings of security and safety and have a place that they could identify with among the community. The Skrzyneckis’ were not ready to give up their ‘old ways’ and have a desire to preserve their polish culture. They did this by creating a garden at their house which conveyed a rich and positive image of life.

Peters parents the Skrzyneckis’ admired their garden immensely. This can be seen from the simile ‘they tended roses like adopted children’ this gave off the impression that they loved it dearly. Peters parents would always have old polish friends over that they could share their own food, culture and tradition with. They had many ‘heated discussions’ with ‘embracing gestures’. However 10 Mary Street had less significance to Peter as he feels as strong social pressure from the Australian culture to change while his parents hang on to the ‘old ways’. Peter reminisces about ‘I’d ravage the backyard garden’ as peter was always confused about where he belonged because he had a lack of understanding about his heritage and also had a lack of acceptance therefor the house did not provide him with the same security as it did for his parents. Peter speaks of ‘citizens of the soil/that was feeding us’ this implies that Peter may become and Australian citizen in the future which would allow him to identify and belong somewhere. Peter Skrzynecki never felt like he belonged to the school ‘St Patricks College’. St Patricks College was of high religious status and this could be depicted from the reference to ‘our lady’ which was a statue who watched imposingly from the building. This was one of the first indications that St Patricks College was of high religious status. However the statues face was ‘overshadowed by clouds’ which is a metaphor that demonstrates the foreshadowing of Skrzyneckis future school experiences and that the religion ma y be a barrier for Peter to belong and connect with the school.

Peter ‘could say The Lord’s prayer/…all in one breath’ this gave off the impression that Peter had missed the significance of the prayer and was very disconnected from his education. His mother however wanted what was best for him and wanted him to be able to have the best schooling like the other children. She was also religious herself which would have influenced her choice of school ‘mother../said a prayer/ for my future intentions’.

Peter felt ‘like a foreign tourist’ when he walked around the school yard and in the suburb of Strathfield. He felt very disconnected from his school life but also from his home life as well. He didn’t understand the need for his education and could not often relate in with what his parents felt about Poland. Peter thought that his school motto ‘Luceat Lux Vestra’ ‘was a brand of soap’. He did not feel secure in the environment because he was different from the rest of the Australian culture due to having a cultural divide,...
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