Educating Rita

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We live in a world where a strong awareness of identity and acceptance play a vital role in developing a sense of belonging. This idea is explored in the text Educating Rita by Willy Russell and is also evident in the picture book Red Tree by Shaun Tan. In Educating Rita, Rita has yet to develop a strong sense of her identity, thus leaving her feeling estranged and vulnerable in her mundane working-class life. A comparable idea of an unnamed girl apathetically living her life in Red Tree creates connection with the main text, as it reinforces the separation between the characters and their current worlds.

Others might present a barrier which prevents an individual in developing a sense of belonging. Denny objects to Rita’s attempt to move away from him and constantly try to force her to stay in their world. This is apparent in the quote “He said it’s warped me. He said I’d betrayed him”. We know that Rita is known as a character who is bubbly and garrulous, hence the use of short sentence highlights her anxiety and fear. The word ‘betrayed’ is used as a provocation to make Rita question her identity therefore shaking her sense of belonging in the educational world. This idea is also perceptible in Red Tree, on the double-spread picture of the unnamed girl standing in front of a crowd, holding a puppet of herself. Through the use of gaze offer, we are introduced to an understanding that the girl is forced to take part in something she does not value. The faceless audiences in the shadow are looking up at her, seemingly expecting her to put on an act with a fake puppet portrayal of herself. This girl is an effective representative of Rita trying to cope with her working-class background topped with massive expectations from her friends and families. We can also see how the light pastel hue on the girl and that of the audiences creates a powerful contrast between their desires to escape from their current state, just like how Rita craves for a place where she...
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