Belonging - Swallow the Air

Topics: Self, New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Perception Pages: 3 (1046 words) Published: March 4, 2011
‘An individual’s interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging.’ BY joseph king
When an individual’s sense of identity is corrupted through prejudicial attitudes they are left exposed and vulnerable allowing a sense of isolation and displacement in society. An individual’s ability to promote change within is largely influenced by the hardships they experience in their struggle to conform and the connectedness of identity that stems from acceptance. Tara June Winch’s novel Swallow the air, adapts the core concept that the perceptions and ideas of belonging are shaped within personal, cultural, historical and social contexts defining who we are resulting in a true understanding and sense of self. This notion resonates in Shaun Tan’s picture book The Red Tree and Armin Greder’s allegorical picture book The Island ,as all three texts explore the potential of the sacrifices an individual makes to belong and the affect the attitudes and perceptions have which can either allow or hinder an individual’s quest to find their place in the world. Relationships with others and its surroundings can either enhance or restrict their journey of acceptance and security. Swallow the air, emotively alludes to the notion of the protagonists May’s multiple incongruous affiliations. While the quest for a sense of belonging can be potentially excruciating the individual may enrich the community or group, exploring how belonging can challenge an understanding of the world and their self. Throughout Winch’s Swallow the air, May feels isolated and vulnerable to find a real place of security. Despite Mays feelings of insecurity she discovers solace within her Aboriginal community, “We’re all family here, we’re all blacks from different places, but we are all one mob.” The inclusive pronoun of ‘we’ emphasises her acceptance within a group who share her cultural heritage. This notion juxtaposes with the aggressively graffiti May finds...
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