Belonging Speech

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Belonging is a complex idea as it very rarely is defined as solely belonging or not belonging, but rather somewhere in between these extremes. This concept is one that is essential to humans as it gives them a sense of identity and security to their lives. “My Place” by Sally Morgan is a tremendous text which explores this sense of belonging and describes the morphing of her identity, her belonging, through new-found knowledge of her heritage. Several aspects of belonging can also be explored through examining any of Australian poet Peter Skrzynecki’s poems from the “Immigrant Chronicle”. In particular, “Migrant Hostel” which clearly identifies the hardships experienced by one being a migrant in a new country trying to find a place to belong, and “Feliks Skrzynecki” which demonstrates the sense of belonging in regards to a child/parent relationship.

The poem opens with “my gentle father”, the possessive pronoun “my” expresses the relationship, the belonging the father and son feel together. The positive connotation of the adjective “gentle” creates the loving calm tone of the relationship. Peter rejects aspects of his father’s life in Australia of keeping his Polish traditions alive here including how his friends “shook hands too violently”. The incident with the “crew-cut, grey-haired Department clerk” allows Peter to accept Feliks’ decision to retreat to the garden protected by the “golden cypress” and gains an understanding of his old ways. This principal aspect of belonging being an essential need to human life is seen in Peters’ relationship with his father, and also the complex tensions of belonging and alienation experienced by migrants to Australia. Today’s context has changed immensely, although the adjustments and displacement felt by migrants is still the same.
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